Routine Balance Testing Ensures Accurate Weighing Results
Failing to detect weighing errors can be a costly mistake, yet many issues can be prevented by implementing routine testing of laboratory balances. Laboratories can increase efficiency and save costs by putting the emphasis on quality from the outset, enabling balance malfunctions or weighing inaccuracies that would otherwise go undetected to be discovered at the earliest opportunity.
Laboratories of all types – R&D, quality or production – use weighing balances on a daily basis and it’s all too easy to take the accuracy of these precision instruments for granted. However, while balances may seem innocuous, they make a crucial contribution to the end result. Weighing errors lead to inaccurate results, with associated time and cost implications. They may also lead to a failure in meeting regulatory requirements and, potentially, harmful health and environmental effects.
Typically, laboratories reduce the risk of balance performance falling outside process tolerances by periodically employing a service provider to ensure that the instrument settings and calibration are correct. In addition, Bottom of Form routine testing and maintenance of balances in between service intervals is essential. This simple task enables early identification of any non-compliance with performance specifications, allowing timely corrective action to be taken and eliminating unexpected problems when the next balance calibration service is performed.
It is clearly beneficial to put the spotlight on quality from the beginning, building balance testing into routine practice to ensure your weighing results are accurate all day, every day. However, defining routine test frequencies and adequate procedures, and implementing staff training can be challenging and lengthy tasks that consume valuable resources. The key is to assess the risk and consequences of inaccurate results for both the business and staff, as well as the ability to track and trace errors. Consider:
- The impact of weighing inaccuracies on your business process – lost time and materials, out of specification results, rework, production downtime, fines, product recalls, unhappy customers, loss of reputation, etc.
- The consumer – how will incorrect weighing results affect people, animals or the environment?
- Probability of detection – can weighing errors be detected quickly and easily?
This easy-to-follow guide explains the four pillars of successful routine balance testing; frequency, methods and SOPs, test weights and user training. It outlines how, and how often, to test, and which weights to use to ensure proper balance function, and includes links to helpful tools and complementary information to help you establish an appropriate testing routine for your laboratory.