When you're tasked with overseeing an industrial operation, it's important you stay aware of the vast array of responsibilities that await you. Reliable performance is the result of repeatable actions, but unless you can correctly verify those actions through the use of accurate measurements, you may find yourself in the dark. Precision measuring instruments, when used properly, can be extremely helpful toward that end, but even they require specialized maintenance that you should be prepared to provide.
Unfortunately, many people may be unaware of those requirements and find themselves relying on potentially inaccurate information. Below, you'll find a guide to maintaining your precision instruments that should help you avoid those pitfalls and generate reliable reports that you can use to optimize your measurements. It's often been said that a good craftsman never blames his tools, and by following these steps, you should never have a reason to do so.
For many people, their toolbox is an all purposes storage case that holds everything they may think they'll need in a given day. Unfortunately, that attitude can also make a toolbox a potential source of trouble, as your precision instruments can be easily damaged if they're constantly rattling around other items or being subjected to vibrations.
For blunter instruments like screwdrivers and hammers, high precision comes in usage rather than manufacturing. That's not the case for calibration tools, plug gauges, and other specialized measurement tools that perform essential tasks as part of your manufacturing operation.
Make sure that you store those items in protective cases away from your other tools. You should also keep those cases on a stable surface that's not subjected to frequent vibrations in order to guarantee their calibration remains consistent. If it's at all possible, keeping your precision instruments entirely out of the work area until they're needed is probably the best practice to follow.
Mechanical factors aren't the only driving concern governing the accurate use of precision tools. Environmental factors also play a role, and in some cases, they may be even harder to control. A work floor is likely to be a warm and humid environment, and that changing temperature can cause both plastic and metal components to flex slightly. While those changes may be imperceptible to the naked eye, they can be vitally important when considering manufacturing tolerances.
Even your instruments themselves may perform differently in a difficult climate, which highlights the importance of controlling your manufacturing area as much as possible. Air conditioning is a tool for productivity as much as it is a tool for comfort, and if you can't control the environment around your manufacturing space, you should attempt to perform your precision testing in a different, smaller area where you can receive accurate results.
Ultimately, it's difficult to have an accurate instrument without having a clean instrument. This makes it your responsibility to thoroughly inspect all of the surfaces of your measuring tools after every usage, and carefully clean off any dirt or grime that may still be clinging.
Non-static cloths are best for this purpose, as they can guarantee that you aren't forced to deal with any residual electrical or magnetic concerns. In the case of thread plug gages, this is a particularly important step, as industrial grease and lubricants may be hiding in the very openings that you're seeking to measure.
WESTport offers professional calibration services and other measurement assistance that should be sure to provide you with the results you want. Turning to the professionals for your precision instrument needs is the best way to guarantee you're never left guessing, and to assure your customers that your tactics are reliable every time.