Calibration in our day-to-day life in 2023
Updated: Feb 25
We are familiar with the concept of air travel and most of us have flown in an airplane at least once in our life. We have also had nerve-wracking moments of going through turbulences, watching another plane pass by in proximity, and so on. But even with such scenarios, we have a strong belief that all the checks and balances done on these machines will ensure a smooth experience.
High-accuracy instruments are used in the process of quality assurance along with data available from the air data system. Various components such as altitude, air pressure, etc are calculated by these sensors and then visible to the pilots in the cockpit. The pilots then make informed decisions and ensure a smooth flight.
So, how confidently can you trust these systems in place with respect to your safety? It all comes to the background of how these minute sensors and other measurement modules are maintained. When we hear the word ‘calibration’, we often associate it with complex laboratory operations, and rarely do we think about how important such a process is for our day-to-day sustenance.
Calibration lies in the center of processes that range from hospitals, automobiles, aviation, food, pharmaceutical production, etc.
Let us look at an example of how a disaster instated the importance of demanding standard quality assurances to be made and incorporating industry standards in the field of space travel.
We are all familiar with the space shuttle challenger disaster which enables NASA to establish the Office of Safety, Reliability, and Quality Assurance to address safety concerns better. The disaster was caused by the failure of the two redundant O-ring seals in a joint in the Space Shuttle's right solid rocket booster (SRB). The record-low temperatures of the launch reduced the elasticity of the rubber O-rings, reducing their ability to seal the joints. The broken seals caused a breach into the joint shortly after lift-off, which allowed pressurized gas from within the SRB to leak and burn through the wall to the adjacent external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB's aft attachment, which caused it to crash into the external tank, which caused a structural failure of the external tank and an explosion. Following the explosion, the orbiter, which included the crew compartment, was broken up by aerodynamic forces. This shocking disaster caused ripples that led to stringent quality measures and highlighted the importance of calibration across many sectors.
Let us look at a more relatable example, where calibration plays a huge role in maintaining standards. In the automotive industry, we trust our vehicles blindly before taking them out for a spin daily. From having our kids on board to the safety of our dear ones, we trust the existing system in place and the condition of the vehicle taking you around. How is this possible? From all the routine maintenance fixes you take your car to, proper calibration and quality control measures are employed to ensure that safety is of utmost priority.
So, before that long drive, how do you prepare yourself for the unforgiving weather conditions that could change a day around for you? Weather alerts and apps have sorted this out for us too! We depend ourselves solely on this process, but have you ever thought about whether to trust the source of it all? Everyday weather reports are provided by local or central weather stations. These weather stations use precision barometric pressure transducers and indicators, among other sensors, to report fluctuations in local ambient pressures and use this data to create isobars. These isobars are used to assess wind conditions and predict important weather events. Yet another example of how calibration happens in our day-to-day life!
These are just some of the examples of how large or small, the field of calibrations affects our lives daily. At Metquay, we are still learning about the various industries that provide this valuable process and about how calibration supports even the smallest of our actions in this world, today!
A huge shoutout to this industry and the numerous technicians and processes that make our world a better, yet safer place to live in.