Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Application note: Improving productivity in a temperature calibration laboratory

September 2009 Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration


Many calibration laboratories and instrument shops face the problem of delivering more accurate calibrations in less time and at lower cost. Although improving quality and performance while reducing cost is a difficult problem, it is also an old problem that manufacturers have been facing for years. Lean manufacturing, a concept pioneered by Toyota, offers an approach that may benefit service as much as it does manufacturing. This paper describes how lean manufacturing principles were used to improve quality and productivity in a temperature calibration laboratory.


Fluke’s Hart Scientific Division maintains a temperature calibration laboratory in American Fork Utah, providing NVLAP accredited calibration services (lab code 200348) from approximately –200°C to 1000°C. Lab associates take pride in the fact that their calibration uncertainties are among the best commercially available in the world. In spite of the laboratory’s technical successes, Platinum Resistance Thermometer (PRT) calibrations still took too long and occasionally had to be repeated.

The calibration process used by the Hart Scientific team is accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) sponsored by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). Accreditation is a result of a high level of competence and a lot of effort by the team and management. However, there were still some issues that the team wanted to resolve.

Good calibrations just seemed to take a long time. With all of the procedures and quality checks necessary to ensure good work, it became difficult to keep the output level high. The team decided to investigate whether anything could be done to improve the efficiency of their processes without damaging the quality.

To find out how Fluke improved its process capacity through better process flow, process layout and adding automation, visit:


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