For the lab, NIST Certifications has to do with "verifying that a specific piece of equipment does what it's suppose to do within the specifications documented by the manufacturer". N.I.S.T. stands for the "National Institute of Standards and Technology" located in Boulder, CO. This NIST Certification is acknowledged in many different ways. Other names for NIST Certification maybe Certificate of Calibration, Traceable Calibration, Certificate of Traceability, etc. So many times you may similar terms but in short they mean the same thing. most of the time.
ISO Certification. Sometimes we all will get calls from a customer that has a need for ISO Certification. What they are probably looking for is "calibration to a nationally known standard" or NIST Certification. The Driven Company verifies what information they need in the way of certification and most every time you'll see the same information on both of the attachments below.
This NIST Certification may be required by many of our customers on new equipment and the ones they send in for repair and/or calibration. Some customers send their equipment in for this one purpose to have it calibrated and certified. This is commonly done on a routine basis (usually once a year).
So what is this certification? It's documented proof that a piece of equipment meets the manufacturer's specifications. This is done by comparing our equipment to the customer's equipment and providing a document that states the results. The customer is supplied with this documentation for their records. The lab maintains this document on file for in excess of 5 years.
To take this another step, our requirements are that in order to verify the utmost accuracy in our calibrations the equipment we use to calibrate our customer's equipment should have a ratio of 4:1(when ever possible). Simply put, our equipment must be 4 times more accurate than the equipment we're calibrating. An example would be a customer send their panel meter for certification. The rated accuracy we'll say is ±2%. The meter is 0-100 VDC. When we hook the meter up to our calibrator, our calibrator must be 4 times more accurate. So the calibrator must have an accuracy of .5% on DC Volts. Two percent divided by 4 equals the .5%.
In the above example let's use the example
of the ±2% panel meter 0-100 VDC. (Scaled 0-100 DCV and has an input of 0-100 DCV). If we hooked this meter up to our calibrator (.5%) and the pointer indicated 99 DCV, the meter is said to be within the manufacturer's specifications. Two percent of 100 is 2. One hundred minus two is 98. One hundred plus 2 is 102. So the rated accuracy of the panel meter is from 98 to 102 DCV. If the meter indicated between 98 and 102 it is said to be within the manufacturer's specifications.
Now how do we know that our calibrator is .5% or better on DCV? One way is that the manufacturer states the rated accuracy of the calibrator. But how are we sure that the calibrator is .5% or better? We use equipment that is 4 times more accurate to compare it against. This comparison is our calibration and we would issue a certificate on this production calibrator. This is our calibration chain or "Traceability". In one way or another our equipment is traceable back to NIST. This traceability is what the customer is looking for when they request a NIST Certificate. On this same note, whenever we incorporate a new piece of equipment into the lab, before we can begin to use it in production (use it in the final calibration for our customer's equipment) it must be certified either by us or by the OEM. This is also a requirement from some of our customers, whenever they purchase a new piece of test equipment they require the NIST Certificate prior to the unit being placed into service at their facility.
Each piece of equipment that is used in the final calibration of our customer equipment is "Certified to NIST". To follow the chain a paperwork trail is created that links the customer's equipment through our equipment and back to NIST.
Having the correct equipment (equipment that is accurate enough) defines our "capabilities" . Many times when we get calls from customers or our sales force on calibrating or certifying equipment, part of the process is looking up the manufacturer's specifications on the unit in question and verifying that we have the correct instrumentation to perform calibration/certification.
For some of you that are involved in certifications with you