# The Difference Between Accuracy, Precision, and Resolution

A majority of experts probably couldn’t succinctly define the difference between accuracy, precision, and resolution. In fact, if you asked ten engineers you might very well get eleven answers! This is because even experienced scale designers have made a habit of using these terms incorrectly.

That being said, the distinctions between the three of them aren’t difficult to understand at all.

## Defining Accuracy

When people talk about any of these three metrics, they more than likely are actually referring to accuracy regardless of which word they decided to use to describe what they meant. Accuracy refers to how close a measurement is to an object’s true weight.

Say an object weighs exactly 5,000 pounds on the dot. There’s a good chance that a scale will read slightly less or more than that depending on several fluctuating variables.

For instance, you might find that a scale’s display claims the object weighs 4,987 pounds even though that value is around 0.26 percent lighter than the actual weight. If the scale read considerably lighter, then you have yourself a serious problem.

A well-made scale that uses properly calibrated load cells, like those selected by our engineers at Arlyn Scales, will always prove accurate to within agreed upon tolerances that suit the nature of the object being weighed.

Considering that objects can become wet or end up compromised in some other fashion, this reading may be considerably different than what it should be. However, this starts to get into the territory of precision as opposed to accuracy.

In an overwhelming majority of circumstances, what you really want to consider is the long-term accuracy of the scale you’re working with. You’ll also need to give some thought to how accurate the underlying technology is.

However, you don’t want to miss out on taking the other two metrics into account either.

## Scale Precision

Precision scales are able to repeatedly deliver the same measurement over and over again with almost no variation. While the operator has to expend some effort to ensure that conditions are constant and unchanging, a precise scale shouldn’t add any additional variables into the equation. When a measurement is repeated within a relatively short time period, it shouldn’t look any different.

The most precise scales are capable of providing the same level of measurement precision over a long period of time. This means that you can trust the device to produce similar readings regardless of changing outside conditions.

Those who need stable and reproducible figures are most often concerned with precision. If you’re working in a facility that needs to regularly fill bottles and ensure that each has exactly the same quantity of a product in it, then you need an extremely precise scale.

Keeping the weighing area clean and dry will help to ensure precision because water and other substances will increase the weight of an object slightly. Make sure that whatever you’re weighing doesn’t get any other kind of debris on it either.

That being said, the most important thing is to acquire a scale that’s technologically precise so you’re not dealing with any sort of internal variables, to begin with.

You’ll also want a scale with an appropriate resolution for the objects that you’re measuring.

## Scale Resolution

Resolution refers to the range of the scale divided by the display readout. You could also say that it’s capacity divided by readability. High readability delivers a great resolution, but it doesn’t always result in the best accuracy.

This factor matters most when you want to reduce the risk of operator error. A scale with a low resolution won’t offer a very good readout, which in turn increases the chances that someone will misinterpret the results.

This isn’t quite the same thing as display resolution, which counts the number of pixels visible on a digital screen.

For instance, you may have heard that the Arlyn UpScale digital indicator offers a WSVGA resolution of 1024×600. This figure refers to the resolution of the display in terms of how computer scientists might address the issue.

That being said, the display has a more than sufficient resolution in measurement terms, so you wouldn’t have to worry about this issue if you had elected to install one on your equipment.

## Telling the Three Metrics Apart

While you may still be confused as to the exact lines between accuracy, precision, and resolution, this is completely understandable because there is a high degree of overlap. To sum it down, each of them is defined in the following fashion:

• Accuracy refers to how close a scale’s measurement is to the actual weight of the object being weighed.
• Precision lets the operator known how well-repeated measurements of the same object will agree with one another.
• Resolution is the total weighing range of a scale divided by the readability of the display.

People most often confuse accuracy with precision. Keep in mind that an extremely precise scale isn’t necessarily an accurate one. That being said, you’re certainly going to want units that you can rely on so you’ll have to make sure that any scale you acquire for your business earns top marks in all three categories.

Some industries, especially those that deal with pharmaceuticals, have specified distinct categories to divide scales into. Technicians who have done so are normally worried about preventing overfilling or underfilling of certain containers. If you have a scale that’s a top achiever in each of these areas, however, then you won’t have to worry much about these arbitrary categories.
Accurate & Precise Scales that Suit Your Operation

Regardless of whether you run a larger enterprise-level company or a small agribusiness, you can’t risk using a scale that isn’t giving you the best measurement numbers possible. At Arlyn Scales, we use a combination of high-quality load cells coupled with innovative technologies, like our patented surface acoustic wave equipment, to provide spot-on measurements that you can trust. Contact us online using the form on our site when you’re ready to learn more about weighing options you can really trust.

## Accurate & Precise Scales that Suit Your Operation

Regardless of whether you run a larger enterprise-level company or a small agribusiness, you can’t risk using a scale that isn’t giving you the best measurement numbers possible. At Arlyn Scales, we use a combination of high-quality load cells coupled with innovative technologies, like our patented surface acoustic wave equipment, to provide spot-on measurements that you can trust. Contact us online using the form on our site when you’re ready to learn more about weighing options you can really trust.