Package aids calibration management

Maintenance of a control system after commissioning requires routine scheduled calibration of component parts including sensors, transmitters, and gauges. Scheduled calibration is a major quality assurance requirement for facilities operating under ISO9000 or QS9000 guidelines and a regulatory mandate for pharmaceutical processes governed by the U.

11/01/2000


Maintenance of a control system after commissioning requires routine scheduled calibration of component parts including sensors, transmitters, and gauges. Scheduled calibration is a major quality assurance requirement for facilities operating under ISO9000 or QS9000 guidelines and a regulatory mandate for pharmaceutical processes governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA.

The need to manage calibration is consistent across industry segments where the user must know key data regarding each device as well as its calibration history. In addition to documenting calibration status, these data are useful for evaluating cycle effectiveness and device application and their deterioration over time. Users keep these records in a variety of formats from file cards to custom database applications.

Calibration Manager from Blue Mountain Quality Resources (State College, Pa.) is a software package designed to aid in scheduling and documentation of calibration activities. A dedicated Microsoft Access database application links to Blue Mountain's Crystal Reports; users can define reports required for the application.

The central portion of this package is the Equipment Master where items for calibration are defined and tracked. The database front end allows users to fully define each device, including tag name, model number, serial number, and location. In addition, user-definable fields can be custom-labeled to meet specific requirements. Another helpful feature allows users to create a new record from a blank form or copy an existing form to limit repetitive data entry.

Within the database, users are also able to change tag name assignment for an existing instrument. This allows tracking of calibration data by instrument serial number or tag location as required. Should the instrument be later reassigned, a new tag name can be used while keeping prior calibration information.

Useful parts of each equipment record are the Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) links that provide support documentation for each device. Listings of electronic documentation pertaining to each piece of equipment are given by general classification such as:

  • Drawings—P&ID, mechanical layout, location, and assemblies;

  • Procedures—Calibration or maintenance;

  • Specifications—Purchasing documentation, and other references.

Each document listed on the OLE link page includes the full path, providing access simply by selecting the open icon. Thus, users have access to all essential information within a single framework.

To facilitate data entry, the developers have included two approaches to reduce clerical errors and save time. First is the ability to "check-out" portions of the database from the licensed primary computer to a portable computer for field use. This allows the technician to directly enter calibration data into the database while in the field and then, when this is complete, update the master database by a "check-in" of the database portion.

Another data-entry approach is through an option package that allows direct communication with handheld calibrators. In this case, technicians can download calibration parameters into the handheld device using Calibration Manager and then upload the results.

Calibration Manager was evaluated using Version 3.0 Demonstration (v. 3.00.0115) operating under Microsoft Windows 98. The software is also compatible with Windows 95 or NT.

For more information about Blue Mountain Quality Resources' Calibration Manager, visit www.controleng.com/freeinfo .


Author Information
Contributing Editor, Tracy J. Coates P.E. is a consulting engineer at PCE Engineering, Johnson City, Tenn.




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