Calibration of industrial temperature sensors, what does the regulation say?

Published on 16 déc. 2020 In: Techno

  • Reading timeBEGINER
  • Level04min.

Accuracy and reliability of data are major issues in securing the storage and transport of temperature-sensitive goods such as foodstuffs or pharmaceuticals. Temperature sensors must be calibrated to be as accurate as possible. But what does the regulation say?

Calibration of industrial temperature sensors, what does the regulation say?

The IoT market has been growing for several years and is expected to exceed 5 billion connected objects by 2022. Industrial applications are numerous and the benefits are considerable: improved operating costs, process optimization, improved customer satisfaction, improved safety of people and property... Among these applications, temperature monitoring is probably the most widespread, whether in transport, storage, or smart building. To meet these challenges, manufacturers of industrial connected objects offer increasingly small, intelligent and precise sensors. Indeed, data accuracy and reliability are major points for securing the storage and transport of temperature-sensitive goods such as foodstuffs or pharmaceutical products. To do this, like any measuring device, temperature sensors must be checked periodically. Periodic verification is subject to regulation and refers more specifically to the EN13486 standard.


In this article, we present the COFRAC organization and its certification, then we focus on the regulations concerning the periodic verification of temperature probes.

What is COFRAC? What is the difference between a COFRAC accredited certification and a COFRAC connected certification?

COFRAC is the French Accreditation Committee. In France, COFRAC is the only reference body for accreditation. It accredits the certifying bodies involved in issuing calibration certificates. It is important to note that there are two types of COFRAC certificates: COFRAC-accredited certificates and COFRAC-connected certificates. In the first case, accreditation recognizes the ability of a national or international laboratory to carry out calibration or metrological verifications. The COFRAC-connected calibration, on the other hand, is not carried out by a COFRAC-accredited laboratory but is a calibration which measurement results can be linked to national standards (COFRAC). Please note that only a COFRAC accredited laboratory can affix the COFRAC logo in its reports.

 Is it compulsory to check the temperature sensors periodically?

First of all, you should be aware that the periodic checking of temperature sensors is not mandatory, but strongly recommended. Indeed, over time, the sensors drift, so it is advisable to check regularly that the data collected by the sensor is correct. This periodic verification of the recorders is the responsibility of the user. The user must carry out a risk assessment in order to determine the frequency of the verification and this verification must be carried out by a COFRAC-certified metrology laboratory.

How often should the temperature sensors be checked?

Regarding the frequency of the check, there is no rule and the text of EN13486 (More about this standard) states that "the frequency of the checks depends on the requirements of the user, taking into account the manufacturer's specifications".  Nevertheless, it gives some recommendations: "It is however recommended that the manufacturer or the workshops authorized by him or the approved verification services carry out an inspection each year, when the temperature recorders and thermometers have been used during this period".

How many measurement points are required to obtain certification?

To calibrate your temperature sensors and obtain a certification, it is necessary to take as many measuring points as the operating temperature ranges where the sensors or recorders will be used. For example, if the sensors are only used at -20°C, only one measuring point will be required. If, however, the recorders are used at -20°C and +2°C, two measuring points will be required.

What is the accuracy class of a temperature sensor?

The EN13486 standard imposes certain accuracy classes for sensors depending on the sector of activity. The class of a sensor is defined according to the measurement accuracy it returns. For example, if a sensor is certified class 1, this means that the data returned is accurate to + or - 1°C. The closer the class number is to zero, the more accurate the sensor will be.


Controlling and monitoring temperatures throughout the cold chain are very important issues with regard to the quality of goods. As a result, the range of connected temperature sensors is constantly expanding. It has therefore become essential for manufacturers investing in this type of product to check with their suppliers to ensure the conformity of the recorders, but also to ensure the accuracy of the data they provide and the evolution of this data over time. Although periodic verification is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended in order to secure your heat-sensitive goods. To find out more about the regulations, you can consult the AFNOR website.