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4 Key Reasons Why the Accuracy of Your Scientific Instrumentation is Drifting

4 Key Reasons Why the Accuracy of Your Scientific Instrumentation is Drifting

Inaccuracies do not occur in the way you might expect.

Louise Jeffrey

Especially, as most laboratory managers choose well designed scientific instruments. However, even the best equipment in the business can experience drift.

Figuring out where to start to prevent potentially harmful results for both operators and consumers can be stressful. But there are ways to eliminate faulty tests and research findings.

Gaining confidence in the accuracy of your scientific instrumentation for consumer safety is at the heart of what we do here at Ellab. We know exactly why science equipment can malfunction and how to ensure that all your devices – whether they measure temperature, pressure, flow, volume, speed or time – are correctly calibrated to globally-recognized standards.

The Problem with Drift

Those using scientific instrumentation will probably know the most common cause for instrument inaccuracy is down to drift. Drift is defined as ‘the change in an instrument’s reading or set point value over a period of time’ and how it deviates from a known standard (an ‘accurate’ reading).

And while some of the reasons drift occurs may seem obvious, such as the environment it is kept in, others are not as well-known. But all these issues are crucial to know and consider for the success of the process.

Reasons Why Your Instruments Might Drift

  1. Environmental Surroundings:
    • Lab Relocation – A simple change in an instrument’s usual environmental conditions can affect its performance. For instance, after lab relocation, the processes and experiments remain unchanged, but the equipment may suddenly produce different results.
    • A Hazardous Environment – In some production facilities and research labs, scientific equipment may be less likely to work accurately because of their harsh environment. This can be due to the instruments being used in extremely high or low temperatures, such as freezers or ovens, or because they are exposed to hazardous substances, such as oils or corrosive materials.
  2. Over-Use or Aging: Sometimes equipment doesn’t function properly because it’s too old, or because it has been used far more extensively than the manufacturer recommended.
  3. Power Outages: Even with back-up generators in place, the mechanical shock or vibration caused by sudden loss of power can cause instruments to behave differently. This is especially true when they are connected to a mains power supply.
  4. Human Error: We are all human and mistakes happen in all lines of work, and this is no exception. Errors can occur in several different ways – staff could accidentally dropping an item, forget to clean or maintain it or use it in an inappropriate environment or for something other than its intended purpose. Staff could also make a mistake in recording or transcribing results or readings.

Consider Ellab as Your Calibration Partner

The principal way of ensuring that your equipment is functioning accurately, is to ensure that it is calibrated regularly to check for any errors or drift. Ellab uses instrumentation that is traceable to DANAK, UKAS, NIST and many others, which means that we can check a wide variety of instruments, including data loggers, pressure gauges, temperature controllers, flow meters, regulator valves and much more. All to an officially recognised standard.

We can work on-site, which we appreciate is particularly important for efficiency purposes, and we also have our own calibration laboratories. Using a mixture of precision digital equipment and comparators, as well as calibration software, we can carry out a number of requirements.

Find your local calibration team here or contact us for more information.

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