By Graeme C. Payne
Many work environments require conformance to standards for quality management, laboratory quality and technical competence, government regulatory requirements, or legal requirements. These types of standards or requirements contain language requiring use of documented work procedures, and control of those documents. There are many cases where an approved work document, such as a calibration procedure, specifies an item of inspection, measuring and test equipment (IM&TE) that is not available. It is then necessary to substitute a different item of IM&TE in order to accomplish the task. It is important that the organization have an effective process for determining if a proposed instrument is an acceptable substitute for what is listed in the documented work procedure. This discussion focuses on electronic IM&TE but the principles are adaptable to all measurement and test disciplines. The information is applicable to calibration and test laboratories, but also to any organization where measurements are made during the process of producing goods or services. While metrologists have the knowledge, training and experience to determine an acceptable substitute, it is quite likely that a typical worker in industry – even in a technical or engineering role – may not and therefore be unable to make a correct substitution determination. In addition, there is very little published guidance readily available on this subject.