Trescal is the global leader in calibration services.
Each year, more than 70,000 companies active in the aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical, energy, electronics and telecommunication sectors entrust Trescal with their calibration needs.
In 2019, Trescal took a significant step in the Asia Pacific region with the acquisition of the three leading Australian and New Zealand calibration service providers: IPAC, Celemetrix and Test ‘n’ Cal.
The Australian Mining Review spoke with Trescal General Manager, Chris Body, IPAC Solutions’ Branch Manager Alan Mortimer, Celemetrix’ Technology and Compliance Manager Anthony Wynn and the CEO of Mobile Test ‘n’ Cal, Andre Borell, to learn more about calibration and why it is so important to industries around the globe.
What is calibration?
“Calibration is the act of comparing a device under test (DUT) of an unknown value with a reference standard of a known value,” Chris said.
“A person typically performs a calibration to determine the error or verify the accuracy of the DUT’s unknown value.
“As a basic example, you could perform a calibration by measuring the temperature of a DUT thermometer to learn the error of the thermometer by comparing it to more accurate device such as a calibrated reference thermometer.
“In some cases the DUT can be adjusted to reduce measurement errors.
“Calibration is important because it helps ensure accurate measurements, and accurate measurements are foundational to the quality, safety and innovation of most products and services we use and rely on every day.
“Few people realize the critical role and importance of calibration in their daily lives.
“But calibration improves assurance of precise measurements required in research, development, and innovation, as well as the production of millions of products and services worldwide.
“Pause and look around your room right now; most of what you see was produced within tight measurement specifications assured by calibration.”
Mine sites and calibration
Most equipment on a mine site is critical to its operation and in some cases, the equipment is too large to ship to a calibration laboratory.
Calibration services can be undertaken swiftly, on-site, with the services planned and completed as efficiently as possible to ensure as minimal a disruption to operations or offsite at a dedicated calibration service centre.
“Coordination and flexibility is everything with onsite calibration, particularly on mine sites which are often located in some of the harshest, fast-paced, remote, environments in the world,” Chris said.
“Some equipment may too critical to daily mining operations to be out of action for an extended period of time, it is critical to thoroughly plan calibration needs and time the services with the operation’s scheduled maintenance downtime.”
“A good calibration company will work closely with the client, on-site, to limit the disruptions to their operations which results in less down time for clients and significant cost saving.”
To reduce operational down time, a company can hire suitable calibration equipment and undertake calibration services when the equipment is out of action.
“Hiring calibration equipment can be a good option for short term projects where capex purchases are required,” Chris said.
NATA is Australia’s national accreditation body for the accreditation of laboratories, inspection bodies, calibration services, producers of certified reference materials and proficiency testing scheme providers throughout Australia.
NATA is also Australia’s compliance monitoring authority for the OECD Principles of GLP who provide independent assurance of technical competence and integrity of organisations offering testing, inspection and calibration services.
“NATA accreditation is formal recognition that facilities produce reliable technical results which increases community confidence and trust in a facility’s services, mitigates risk, improves tendering success and facilitates trade.
“A NATA Accredited Laboratory is a laboratory that has been formally recognised by NATA for their quality management system and competency to perform certain test methods within their capabilities.
“Using a NATA Accredited Laboratory gives assurance to the client, that items such as staff competency, reference equipment accuracy and traceability are of a suitably high-level and that their calibration procedures and methods are too.”
Temperature sensors and thermometers
“Temperature sensors and thermometers are installed across all mine sites and form key components in environmental monitoring systems, weather stations and process plant equipment,” Chris said.
“Some mining equipment operates at very high temperatures that that can become very dangerous, very quickly, unless accurately monitored and controlled.
“It is imperative to operate accurate equipment and ensure it is adequately maintained and reliable – calibration is key to managing such critical risks.”
Pressure and vacuum gauges
“Mining equipment operating in harsh environments is subject to heat, dust, shock and vibration impact which can significantly affect its accuracy and working life,” Chris said.
“Pressure and vacuum gauges are very common across a range of mining applicators from industrial mechanical gauges to highly accurate digital systems.
“Calibration of pressure and vacuum gauges is critical to ensure equipment operates within its design and safety limits.”
The dangers on mine sites are not limited to pressure and temperature, torque systems can also be very dangerous if not operated safely.
“Mine sites can have a multitude of torque equipment in operation from manual torque wrenches and screwdrivers to electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic tools, with some hydraulic tools operating to as high 25,000Nm,” Chris said.
“To ensure safety and best practice, torque equipment must be well maintained and calibrated regularly.”
Gas detector and monitoring
Most countries require mining companies to monitor gas levels throughout their mine sites.
“Gas monitoring equipment can be fixed throughout the site with the ability to initiate site wide warning systems when dangerous gas levels are detected, or portable, often carried around by staff during their normal working day,” Chris said.
“Gas detections systems require very regular calibration and checking, as sensors can become contaminated in harsh environments and need replacement.”
Load cells and scales
Load cells and scales used to measure force and weight are used in a range of applications in the mining industry, from low accuracy dispatch scales to high accuracy loading systems.
“If not calibrated and checked regularly, the equipment will provide inaccurate readings which can result in inaccurate quantities, and also lead to unsafe lifting and loading operations,” Chris said.
High voltage equipment
High voltage is a critical risk to personnel working at mine sites, located in some of the most remote, harshest environments in the world.
“Power and plant systems at mine sites operate a lot of high voltage equipment and the regular testing and calibration of this equipment is paramount to minimise fatality risks and ensure the site is a safe environment for personnel,” Chris said.
“High voltage is fatal if it is not treated with respect.
“Stringent safety protocols and suitable equipment which has been rigorously tested must be utilised in these environments to ensure the upmost safety levels are maintained.”
Mine sites are some of the most dangerous places to work in the world and mining companies make significant efforts to promote safe work environments by providing training to personnel, ensuring compliance with safety systems and frameworks and committing to calibrating and testing equipment.
The calibration effort extends to drug and alcohol screening equipment.
“There is nothing is more dangerous than someone being impaired by drugs and alcohol whilst operating some of the most dangerous equipment,” Chris said.
“All mine sites have stringent drugs and alcohol polices and test not only their staff regularly, but also visitors to the site, as such, this equipment must be tested regularly and be well maintained.”
Flow rate monitoring is crucial for the operation of pump and plant infrastructure and is equally important in groundwater and environmental monitoring programs required at all mine sites.
“Mine sites must calibrate the flow metres used to monitor flows across a mining operation to ensure the facility is operating efficiently, predict issues before they arise and also ensure they are operating within environmental limits and licence conditions,” Chris said.
As with high-voltage equipment, electrical instruments pose a considerable risk to personnel and the operability of an operation.
“State regulations state that all electrical instrumentation must be calibrated before use and mining companies must comply with this requirement to ensure appropriate health and safety standards are upheld,” Chris said.
Trescal’s Calibration Services
AMR asked Alan, Anthony and Andre about what services they can offer clients in collaboration with Trescal.
“IPAC has continued to offer extensive calibration services, including factory verification and calibration devices to both existing and new clients,” Alan said.
“We have been well supported by Trescal’s global technical network spanning across 30 countries and have had the opportunity to showcase our services on a global platform.
“We are still actively managing 200,000 assets annually and the number is growing increasingly.”
Anthony said that backed by Trescal, Celemetrix continued to offer its customers – throughout Australia and New Zealand – repair and functional testing services across a range of test and measurement devices, safety equipment and mobile plant used in mission critical application.
“We have also continued to provide second tier support such as fleet management, compliance and quality audit reporting systems for customer owned equipment to ensure its availability and operational integrity,” he said.
Andre said Mobile Test’n’Cal procided its customers with high voltage testing, calibration, inspection and repair services and have provided high quality work results for clients across Australia and New Zealand.
“Working with Trescal has put us on a global stage and given us the opportunity to collaborate across the calibration sector to provide full package solutions to our clients,” he said.
“We do considerable work around high voltage testing which is required y various standards and legislation on a wide variety of electrical safety items and personal protective equipment in order to ensure they remain safe and provide the level of protection required.
“It has been a great opportunity to be able to collaborate with a global company and draw on experience from leaders in calibration across the world.”
Trescal is one of the largest multinational organisations, specialising in calibration, who are expanding globally to support clients from variety of sectors.
Operating in 30 countries, Trescal benefits from owning over 150 in-house laboratories and 220 customer on-site laboratories.
“Trescal aim to be the number one calibration service provider in countries across the globe,” Chris said.
“Following our recent acquisition of three of Australia and New Zealand’s leading calibration service providers, we can demonstrate a strong presence and support clients across the Asia Pacific region.
“In terms of capability, we offer a breadth of calibration products and services to benefit our customers.
“When it comes to calibration, there isn’t much we can’t do!”
What does the future hold for Trescal?
“Calibration is at the heart of our customers’ production processes and quality systems,” Chris said.
“It ensures the accuracy of their tests and measuring equipment.
“Today in 30 counties, more than 70,000 customers from all industries trust us to perform this critical and mandatory service.
“As the worldwide leader of the calibration market, innovation and continuous improvement are essential to us.
“Every year we invest more than $23m in new capabilities, laboratory refurbishments, automation, robots and training programs for our 3850 professionals.
“Such investments are key to guarantee Trescal’s technical excellence and single source solution across the globe.
“We are excited for IPAC, Celemetrix and Mobile Test’n’Cal to join us on this thrilling journey.”
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