Strong maintenance management requires a wide variety of tools, instruments, meters and sensors. If these aren't working correctly, it makes maintenance difficult and poisons all the data you use.
Calibration is a critical process to ensure this equipment is performing as intended so your assets are running at maximum uptime and your valuable data is accurate. Today, software makes that process simpler through automation—taking one more task off your plate.
This guide is designed to help software buyers learn more about calibration management systems and determine the features they need.
In this Buyer's Guide, we'll cover:
What Is Calibration Management Software?
Calibration management software offers functionality to keep all the tools and equipment used in maintenance management calibrated accurately. This is performed in a similar way as other maintenance—using recurring work tasks based on a calendar, managers know exactly when recalibration activities should happen.
Calibration management contributes to higher quality maintenance and/or production, and is a critical part of remaining compliant with the various ISO standards or manufacturing regulations from the FDA.
Like a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), calibration management software will also track the history of recalibration tasks. This gives you access to loads of useful data to optimize your recurring work orders and identify trends about each tool.
Calibration readings as seen in Ape Calibration Control
Since calibration is so important for maintenance, many calibration systems can integrate with a CMMS or an enterprise asset management (EAM) system to coordinate calibration with other maintenance activities.
The final part of the puzzle is hardware. Depending on the tools you use, hardware is available to speed up recalibration. Some vendors offer both software and hardware.
Common Features of Calibration Management Software
While there is a wide variety of calibration management software available, there is a certain set of core features you should be looking for as you explore your options. They include the following:
||Allows users to create recurring calibration tasks on a calendar, often color-coded to stand out from other planned maintenance.
||The system will notify managers and technicians about recalibration work that is near its due date via email or text.
|Work order management
||Create and assign calibration work orders, and include details about the specific tool and instructions for the task.
||Users can add instructions for each tool and add them to work orders to ensure accuracy and consistency.
||Allows users create and use a barcoding system for tools and equipment for quicker scanning and tracking.
||Collects and stores a history of calibration and maintenance tasks to create a digital trail in case of an audit.
||Create profiles for each tool and add details like images, calibration history and instructions to recalibrate.
||Enable the ability to let workers rent tools and equipment and track their usage, location and status.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Different types of buyers require different sets of functionality out of their calibration management software. Here are the primary user bases:
- Facility maintenance managers. Facility management responsibilities are many, and maintenance is a major part of the role. Depending on the size and complexity of your building, you can have dozens of tools and equipment to keep up with and several workers who need to check them out to complete tasks. Look for equipment rental functionality in a calibration system.
- Manufacturing maintenance managers. In manufacturing—especially food production—maintenance and calibration contributes to compliance with FDA regulations. Software helps companies create a digital trail of calibration and maintenance actions that are easily retrievable for audits. Ask vendors how this information is collected and stored in the system to see if it meets your needs.
- Field service or multi-site maintenance managers. Many times, maintenance takes place in the field as workers travel to job sites, another facility or customers' homes—and sometimes calibration is needed out there as well. Portable calibration tools are designed to handle these situations with ruggedized handheld tools. Check which systems can easily integrate portable tools if you expect workers to be mobile.
Benefits and Potential Issues
Several boosts to efficiency. Automating calibration management leads to time savings in multiple areas. Tasks can be completed quickly, and you can optimize scheduling so fewer unnecessary calibration checks are needed, saving money on labor. Then, you always have historical data to easily prove compliance.
Implementation can take time. When you install new systems to help manage a large number of assets, the process often includes some manual entry of asset information. In the same way, it may take some time to enter details about all the tools you use. Vendors typically offer assistance with migrating information from a paper system, or integrating information from another system.
Additional hardware is available. Depending on your type of business, additional hardware can significantly increase the convenience and value of the investment. Barcoding lets you scan multiple items quickly instead of manually searching, and calibration tools of some kind are a necessary part of the process.
Market Trends to Understand
Cloud-based calibration software. The popularity of web-based software (or Software-as-a-Service) has touched nearly every type of system because of its more affordable upfront cost, scalability and lower maintenance. This trend has impacted CMMS and calibration software as well. Smaller companies can take advantage of technology with cloud-based software. Inquire about available deployment methods as you evaluate software.
Keep an eye on FDA regulations. The FDA requires companies that produce food to follow strict regulations regarding the maintenance and cleaning of production machinery. The details can change, so it's important to stay up-to-date on FDA rules. Calibrating tools plays a big role in maintenance, and software ensures you have historical records in the event of an audit.
Pricing and Purchasing Options
While not every vendor offers pricing on their website, many offer cloud-based software with a cost per user per month, or a range of users, in addition to the standard on-premise perpetual license with an upfront cost.
Your budget will impact the features you receive, but these systems can be expanded with optional modules. Most vendors offer a "lite" version, which is a good choice for smaller companies who need automation now but would like to scale up features later.