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Departments: Quality Software

Software Reviews

Calibration Manager 4.0
Calibration software eases audit chores.

by Craig S. Howell

Calibration Manager from Blue Mountain Quality Resources helps track and manage the calibration and maintenance of measurement equipment, including inventory, scheduling, reports and certifications, and record management.

This robust program has all the functions you'd expect in a calibration program and more. It can be set up to automatically calculate and update due dates. Users can find, sort, replace or filter records using simple commands. Drop-down menus minimize error entry and maximize consistency. Records can be archived, which improves system performance by decreasing the number of records that are searched and maintained. Screen clutter, a problem with some programs, is reduced through the use of data objects--data fields (e.g., a vendor name) that can be clicked to drill down and bring up additional information. In fact, one of Calibration Manager's strengths is this 3-D approach to data display.

Calibration Manager consists of several functional areas: Administrator Tools (a separate program), security and compliance issues, equipment calibration history, and reporting functions.

Administrator Tools--This module allows administrators to manage and maintain accounts; assign security levels and user access privileges; create work orders, tag systems and workflow templates; and set auto-reminders.

Work orders assign an ID number to each task to help with tracking and identification. A tag system tracks items by location within a facility. Workflow templates define the steps and requirements for calibration and maintenance.

Compliance--Audit trails isolate and track changes that affect specific items (e.g., changes to the system configuration, users or datasets). It records the original setting, new setting, initiator, time and date, and the results are displayed in a printable table. Changes to the Equipment History and Equipment Master modules also show up in the audit trail. There are also system and dataset logs that track any changes and an electronic signature (E-Sig) function when documents must go through a signature loop.

Equipment calibration history--Two sets of records, the Equipment Master and Equipment History, show the details of each particular tool.

The Equipment Master stores general equipment information for each item, including calibration scheduling, maintenance and other events normally associated with that equipment.

Equipment History shows calibration results and manages the information related to completed events. It also contains "snapshots" of an item at the time an action is performed, which is useful for tracking information that changes periodically.

One welcome feature is the addition of a recycle bin. Anyone who has worked in database programs is familiar with the frustration of deleting information by accident. When information is deleted in Calibration Manager, it goes into a recycle bin. From there a system administrator can restore it. Only purging the recycle bin will permanently delete the information.

Each piece of equipment is identified by a combination of two fields, a system ID and component ID. Most of the information displayed is in a table view format--a simple summary of rows and columns. Double-clicking on any record will display a detailed view of that record.

Defining a piece of equipment as a standard adds another level of tracking to the system. Standards are color coded to show their status: active, retired, removed or past due for calibration. Reports can be generated to perform reverse traceability if a calibration standard is found to be out of tolerance.

The measurement data screen has several sections for tolerance codes, received out of tolerance and pass/fail. Also associated with measurement data is configuration data (e.g., nominal set point, tolerance, limits, units, etc.; information on specific procedures and calibration standards, comments, etc.; and calibration data).

Calibration Manager uses Crystal Reports with a selection of 30 templates that can be used as is or as a template for creating specific reports.

This best-in-class product is targeted toward large multisite companies. However, small companies, particularly those that must comply with or be audited to a federal or international standard, will benefit from Calibration Manager.

About the author

Craig S. Howell is the owner of CPM Labs, a full-service calibration and ultra-precision measuring lab located in Rancho Cordova, California. Fax him at (916) 635-4489. Letters to the editor about this review can be e-mailed to letters@qualitydigest.com.

Calibration Manager 4.0
by Blue Mountain Quality Resources

Requirements: Client--400 MHz Pentium; 64 MB RAM; Windows NT 4.0, 2000, XP or 98. Server--700 MHz Pentium; 512 MB RAM; SMTP; IIS 5.0; Windows 2000 Server (SP 2) and Microsoft SQL Server 2000.

Price: Single-user license starts at about $2,500. Multiuser and/or multisite pricing is dependent upon options and number of concurrent users.

Blue Mountain Quality Resources
208 W. Hamilton Ave.
State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 234-2417
Fax: (814) 234-7077
E-mail: calman@coolblue.com
Web: www.coolblue.com