As manufacturing operations expand, companies need to implement ever better methods to manage practices. This need is especially relevant for those in the process control industry where facilities typically utilize automated control systems, each which might contain large numbers of fixed assets. Often, many of these assets are used to measure physical parameters and control processes. ISO, FDA and other regulatory certifications require periodic testing of these devices to ensure consistency and accuracy of measurements. The need to document testing results for each and to easily retrieve historical information has led to migration from the use of paper and spreadsheets to calibration management software.
Streamlined Workflows with Automation
Choosing the right CMS will provide many benefits. One of the most important is the ability to automate and streamline workflows. Some of the more advanced commercially available programs provide features designed to reduce the administrative and managerial load, eliminate human errors and reduce operational costs. True asset management solutions enable information to be captured as actual data, not “read only” files. Operational supervisors can use this data to make educated decisions like how to optimize calibration intervals, create departmental and employee productivity metrics, assess systems and device life cycle reliability and more.
Furthermore, some programs enable even further use of automation with the use of documenting process calibrators. These are test standards that can source physical test parameters such as temperature and pressure and simultaneously read their correlating electronic signals during a calibration event. The calibrator automatically captures and stores as-found/as-left readings while presenting the technician an immediate pass/fail prompt at each designated test point. Subsequently, completed work can be uploaded into the master program for approvals, to create certificates and to store historical results.
Improved Efficiency with Calibration Software
With increased automation comes increased efficiency as well. Less time is going to be spent writing things down using pen and paper. Fewer mistakes will be made because the program provides clear instructions for delegated tasks, performs all math functions and automatic data verification. As manual procedures are replaced with automated options, time needed to calibrate is shortened, productivity is improved, mistakes are lessened and operational costs are reduced.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be Tracked
As previously stated, calibration management software that captures data enables managers and engineers to track key performance indicators (KPIs). Some more advanced programs provide a variety of standard reports for the most commonly used KPIs. Some also enable information to be shared with other applications for even more advanced use of historical data.
Significant Cost Reduction Using CMS
Calibration practices that utilize pen & paper, calculators and/or filing cabinets at any stage of operations are under performing. This includes the use of paper based work instructions, standard operating procedures, training documents, historical records, etc. If this describes your current methods, choosing and implementing the right calibration management software will provide significant return on investment.
Asset Optimization with Calibration Management Software
Technicians typically capture as-found readings during a calibration event. They use this to determine in-tolerance status and whether adjustments are needed to pass or fail the device. Sometimes, a failed measurement might even be cause to initiate a product or quality assessment investigation. In a paper based system, this is the extent of usefulness for this information. With data driven calibration management software, this information can also be used to track asset reliability over time and provide an additional data point when making decisions for future asset selections.
SDLC (sofware development life cycle) is an important consideration for FDA and ISO regulated companies. These regulations demand that the software providers that they choose meet stringent guidelines with their development and internal pre-release testing practices. For those performing calibrations, quality systems must be in place that clearly define work flow practices and that show documented evidence of consistent steps taken for continuous improvements. Data records must be kept when it comes to device calibrations and retrievable, on-demand, during audits. Compliance to these regulations is easily accomplished with the proper selection of a feature-rich calibration management software product.
Implementation and Support
Choose your calibration management software provider carefully. They are key to obtain optimum benefits for your investment. System features and functionality are important but other things to consider are:
- Length of time in the business
- Calibration domain expertise
- Internal development and pre-release testing practices
- Size of product user base
- Scalability to long-term objectives
- Deployment and system options
- Vendor reputation
- References and testimonials
- On-boarding assistance
- Post-sale support services