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What's the Difference Between Calibration, Verification and Validation?

If you’re in an industry where you use measuring devices in various processes and systems, calibration, verification and validation are all essential to your success. While these terms are often confused with one another, they each have distinct meanings and purposes. All three of these processes are often needed to ensure your systems are safe and your final products meet compliance and accuracy standards.

Find out more about the difference between verification, calibration and validation below.

Table of Contents

What Is Calibration?

Calibration refers to the process of comparing the accuracy of an instrument’s measurements to a known standard. These known measurements are called calibration standards, with these standards helping a technician adjust an instrument’s accuracy to deliver reliable measurements again. Any calibration standard a technician uses should be traceable, meaning the standard’s value can be traced back to a national standard, such as those set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

When It’s Needed

Calibration is required whenever a device starts to produce inaccurate measurements or results. Typically, companies will have their equipment on a calibration schedule to ensure accuracy never drifts too much and affects key processes.

Who Calibration Applies To

Instrument calibration applies to any company using measuring devices, such as those in the defense, medical, aerospace, pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Since all of these industries rely on measuring devices for various processes, they must receive accurate measurements to ensure product quality and safety.

Benefits of Calibration

Benefits of Calibration

If your company employs measuring devices and equipment, calibration is essential to ensure you receive accurate measurements. By regularly calibrating their equipment, companies can receive various benefits. Some of these calibration advantages include longer equipment life, greater safety, better compliance and more profitability.

Learn more about these benefits below:

  • Greater safety: When you calibrate your equipment, you can improve safety by ensuring certain processes have the appropriate environment to be successful. Many sensitive processes require total accuracy to work appropriately, meaning a device that provides inaccurate measurements can result in errors and even unsafe situations for operators. With calibrated equipment, your most sensitive processes have an appropriate environment, safeguarding equipment and staff from danger.
  • Longer equipment life: Calibrating your measuring equipment and instruments can help you raise their overall lifespan. When a device isn’t calibrated regularly, you may not know when the device is starting to fail. By calibrating your equipment at recommended intervals, you’re more likely to catch issues early, taking action on them before a piece of equipment needs more expensive repairs. Besides the financial benefits, calibration helps you extend your equipment’s life by making it easier to stay on top of needed maintenance.
  • Reduced costs: When you use measurement devices and calibrate them at the appropriate level, you can see a significant reduction in costs. With accurate measurements, you’re more likely to save money, as you won’t experience product recalls and errors due to measurement errors.
  • More revenue and profitability: Another way calibration financially benefits companies is by increasing their reputation in their industry and inspiring customers to return to them. Since calibration reduces product errors and recalls, it’s more likely you provide better quality products to your customers, leading to greater revenue from customer referrals and returning clients. By improving your revenue stream and cutting costs, you can increase your company’s overall profitability.
  • Better compliance: Many industries have various regulations in place to protect workers and the general public. Companies often use measuring instruments to ensure their processes and final products comply with these regulations. When you regularly calibrate your equipment, you’re more likely to avoid compliance issues, as you’ll have accurate measurements you can use to stay within regulatory compliance rules.

Applicable Standards

Companies that offer calibration services must be ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited and use NIST traceable calibration standards. NIST traceable standards help technicians know they’ve adjusted equipment appropriately so it will deliver accurate results. The ISO/IEC 17025:2017 provides a set of standards for labs to follow to show they’re competent at performing various laboratory activities. Laboratories with this accreditation show a recognized accrediting body has inspected their labs. With this accreditation, a lab has proven they can properly calibrate specific types of devices.

What Is Verification?

Verification is a procedure made to help companies ensure their processes or equipment are working the way they were originally intended to. In this procedure, a company will use some sort of measuring device to see if a piece of equipment is operating correctly. It can also refer to a procedure designed to check an entire process to ensure this process meets its stated operating specifications.

Keep in mind, the verification process doesn’t involve any corrective actions. Rather, it’s simply a check to ensure equipment or processes produce results with errors within an application’s maximum permissible error, otherwise known as its tolerance. One main difference between calibration and verification is that verification doesn’t have technicians make any adjustments. This procedure also doesn’t usually have technicians checking its results versus any NIST standards. Verification simply helps companies confirm their instruments and systems are performing correctly.

When It’s Needed

Verification typically takes place after calibration is completed. Whether you’re calibrating all of the measuring units in a particular process or only calibrating a specific piece of equipment, verification is essential to ensuring the calibration was performed successfully. Companies also often use verification before calibration to help them see what needs calibration in a particular system.

verification is essential to ensuring the calibration was performed successfully.

Who Verification Applies To

Like calibration, verification relates to companies that utilize measurement devices in various processes. It can also apply to calibration companies so they can verify they’ve performed their calibration services correctly. Alongside companies performing calibration services, companies that sell measuring devices may use verification to ensure they’ve manufactured a measuring instrument correctly, providing an excellent product to their customers.

Benefits of Verification

Since verification helps companies see if an instrument is working correctly, it comes with a few advantages, including:

  • Improved productivity: By performing verification on a device or process after calibration, you can improve your company’s overall productivity. Since verification can help you catch if your calibration was ineffective, you can use it to make sure you’re not improperly producing products. As a result, you avoid wasting time devoting staff to producing products you’ll later have to throw away or recycle. Instead, you can always have staff working on productive tasks.
  • More consistent performance: While outside organizations typically don’t require companies to perform verifications, many companies use it to monitor their internal performance. By consistently performing verification, they can see how their equipment performs and take action quickly whenever this performance begins to slip. As a result, verification can help companies receive more consistent, high-quality performance from their equipment over time.
  • Greater compliance: After you calibrate your equipment, verification helps you see if your equipment will comply with regulations. Since this process can help you check if your equipment is performing within the required range, you can quickly catch issues that could make you fall out of compliance. By performing verification, you can show you’re following ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standards to ensure you maintain your ISO 17025 accreditation and don’t run into any legal or customer perception issues from losing it.

Applicable Standards

The ISO/IEC 17025:2017 lays out a few standards labs to follow when using measuring devices. For example, these standards require that labs verify their methods and their equipment has evidence of verification to show they meet specified requirements. Any company with a lab environment must know and follow the various ISO 17025 standards to maintain their accreditation and show their customers they can handle various tasks competently.

Another applicable standard to verification is ISO/IEC 17029. This standard provides general requirements for verification bodies, encouraging consistent and competent verification processes from companies that provide the service.

What Is Validation?

Validation is a process designed to ensure different parts of a system function well together to help generate the needed outcomes. After a system’s components go through calibration and verification, validation is required to ensure all these components work together in a system to produce the right outcome.

The difference between calibration and validation comes down to calibration focusing on an instrument’s accuracy back to a known standard, while validation is geared toward making sure a system meets its stated functional intent. Since validation and verification are often confused, it’s important to note that verification checks if a process has the right operation while validation focuses on the system having the right output.

When It’s Needed

Validation is often needed when a company needs to show a regulating body or customer that a system functions in line with requirements or intent. When a company performs validation, they’ll be checking if the various components of a system function together to generate an intended outcome. Validation often occurs after calibration and verification services are performed.

Who Validation Applies To

Validation applies to a whole host of industries and companies using measuring instruments in their systems. Since this process ensures a system produces the desired outcome, it’s essential to companies wanting to achieve high product quality. You can also see regulatory bodies using validation to ensure a company’s systems’ outcomes meet various regulations.

Benefits of Validation

Benefits of Validation

Validation provides companies with several benefits that make it a crucial part of any system relying on measurement devices. Review some of the top advantages of validation below:

  • Greater safety: When you validate your company’s systems, you guard yourself against poor outcomes. These outcomes can result in non-functioning equipment or products that don’t perform optimally, raising the chances a product causes harm. Alongside ensuring product safety, validation can better protect your system’s operators, as it ensures all of the components of the system are working properly and won’t result in potentially unsafe errors.
  • Higher customer satisfaction: Since validation helps companies ensure their systems meet a customer’s desired outcomes, performing validation can help you raise customer satisfaction. This process acts as quality assurance, meaning you’ll be aware when a customer’s desired outcomes aren’t being met. As a result, you can make sure you always deliver products in line with customer expectations. By meeting expectations, a customer is more likely to view your company as a reputable source for their needs and return to you in the future.
  • Better compliance: Like calibration and verification, process validation allows companies to comply with industry and governmental standards. When you validate your systems, you can more easily meet compliance standards. Adhering to compliance standards can help you raise your industry reputation and avoid mandated shutdowns or fines.
  • Reduced errors: When your system doesn’t produce the desired outcomes, you can see more errors in production. By validating your systems, you can ensure your customers receive batches of products without mistakes. Reducing errors can also result in increased productivity at your facility and raised revenue.

Applicable Standards

Like verification, validation is mandated by the ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17025:2017. These standards make it so companies can prove their measurement results’ validity and give regulatory bodies proof of consistency. ISO standards also apply to the validation of methods to ensure everything in a system is working appropriately. As with verification, ISO/IEC 17029 also applies to validation, offering requirements for validation bodies.

Why We Perform Calibration, Verification and Validation

At MicronPA, we regularly perform calibration, verification and validation at our state-of-the-art laboratories. Since all of these different processes serve vital roles in confirming a production system is performing optimally, we perform all three to give our customers the best service possible. By using all three of these procedures, we can see if our calibration services were effective, a process or piece of equipment is operating correctly and a system is creating the right outcomes.

Since we’re ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited and ISO 9001 certified, we ensure any instruments we calibrate don’t run into compliance issues. As you now know, these standards don’t just apply to calibration, so we also perform verification and validation. Combining all three of these processes ensures we adhere to compliance standards and maintain our accreditation and certification.

Many of our clients come from different industries, such as the defense, medical, automotive, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries. All of these industries require accuracy to complete various processes and ensure safety. For example, pharmaceutical equipment must be as accurate as possible to ensure products, such as prescription drugs, are safe for patients. Due to this need for safety, we perform verification, validation and calibration services, making it so our customers can be confident their protected from potential safety threats.

Turn to MicronPA for Calibration Services

Since our team at MicronPA are experts at equipment calibration, we can handle various services for your needs and make the process easy. While you can send your instruments and devices to our lab, we can also come directly to your facilities for on-site services. We also regularly provide instrument pickup and delivery. We ensure quality by offering NIST-traceable laboratory services and taking the time to understand our customers’ needs before we get to work.

If you’re ready for calibration, verification and validation, take a moment to review our many services. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or want to partner with us.

Turn to MicronPA for Calibration Services

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