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  • Writer's pictureMetquay Inc Consulting Team

How to choose between ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited and NIST Traceable calibrations in 2023?

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

To better understand the process behind which calibration standards are used

across the industry, let us try to understand what really is a calibration standard.

A calibration standard in layman's terms is an internationally accepted value that

is labeled accurate. Any Device Under Test (DUT) is compared to the standard

values set to calculate error and tweak the instrument to be termed accurate

and acceptable.


So, how does a user know which type of calibration standard best suits their

device requirements? To know that, let us explore the difference between

accredited and traceable calibrations.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a section under the U.S

Department of Commerce provides a traceable calibration, wherein a

manufacturer or laboratory can ensure that the standards used for calibration

can be traced back to the International System of Units (ISI) with a command chain

that is unbroken, and measurements are comparable.


A traceable standard does not consider the expertise and quality of the staff or

a laboratory that carries out the calibrations but provides a method to ensure the

standards maintained can be traced back to the ISI.


Meanwhile, the ISO/IEC 17025 accredited standards are accepted internationally

and can be claimed superior to the NIST standards because they consider the

calibration discipline, by evaluating the competence of the calibration lab.

Another key factor that makes it better is the fact that the measurement

uncertainties are also included in the standard result.


Now to address the question of, which standard to use for your equipment.

The decision lies in the hands of the quality department professionals of a

company. All equipment that is tagged critical because of their functionality in

a setting would be better adapted to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. Some

examples of critical equipment would be plane parts, temperature controllers in

nuclear power plants, etc. The accuracy is highly correlated to the functionality of

this equipment in critical scenarios and hence a more comprehensive standard

procedure is undertaken.


Meanwhile, non-critical equipment that does not have direct, drastic implications in

the real world would be better suited to follow the NIST traceable standards.

Some examples of non-critical equipment would be tire gauges, torque wrenches

etc.


Every owner or lead individual of an organization gets the call on deciding which

the standard would be better catered to their equipment.


All that matters is, every piece of equipment must meet the industry standard!


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