Sensitivity may be defined as the rate of displacement of the indicating device of an instrument, with respect to the measured quantity. In other words, sensitivity of an instrument is the ratio of the scale spacing to the scale division value. For example, if on a dial indicator, the scale spacing is 1.0 mm and the scale division value is 0.01 mm, then sensitivity is 100. It is also called as amplification factor or gearing ratio. If we now consider sensitivity over the full range of instrument reading with respect to measured quantities as shown in Figure the sensitivity at any value of y=dx/dy, where dx and dy are increments of x and y, taken over the full instrument scale, the sensitivity is the slope of the curve at any value of y.
The sensitivity may be constant or variable along the scale. In the first case we get linear transmission and in the second non-linear transmission. .
Sensitivity refers to the ability of measuring device to detect small differences in a quantity being measured. High sensitivity instruments may lead to drifts due to thermal or other effects, and indications may be less repeatable or less precise than that of the instrument of lower sensitivity.
Readability refers to the case with which the readings of a measuring Instrument can be read. It is the susceptibility of a measuring device to have its indications converted into meaningful number. Fine and widely spaced graduation lines ordinarily improve the readability. If the graduation lines are very finely spaced, the scale will be more readable by using the microscope; however, with the naked eye the readability will be poor. To make micrometers more readable they are provided with vernier scale. It can also be improved by using magnifying devices.
The calibration of any measuring instrument is necessary to measure the quantity in terms of standard unit. It is the process of framing the scale of the instrument by applying some standardized signals. Calibration is a pre-measurement process, generally carried out by manufacturers. It is carried out by making adjustments such that the read out device produces zero output for zero measured input. Similarly, it should display an output equivalent to the known measured input near the full scale input value. The accuracy of the instrument depends upon the calibration. Constant use of instruments affects their accuracy. If the accuracy is to be maintained, the instruments must be checked and recalibrated if necessary. The schedule of such calibration depends upon the severity of use, environmental conditions, accuracy of measurement required etc. As far as possible calibration should be performed under environmental conditions which are vary close to the conditions under which actual measurements are carried out. If the output of a measuring system is linear and repeatable, it can be easily calibrated.
It is the ability of the measuring instrument to repeat the same results for the measurements for the same quantity, when the measurement are carried out-by the same observer,-with the same instrument,-under the same conditions,-without any change in location,-without change in the method of measurement-and the measurements are carried out in short intervals of time. It may be expressed quantitatively in terms of dispersion of the results.
Reproducibility is the consistency of pattern of variation in measurement i.e. closeness of the agreement between the results of measurements of the same quantity, when individual measurements are carried out:
-by different observers -by different methods
-using different instruments
-under different conditions, locations, times etc.