Written by Ken Wijaya 12:16 am Product Testing & Certification

Lab Accreditation Explained

IAPMO R&T Lab is an accredited ISO 17025 laboratory. But, what does that mean? In a nutshell, accreditation provides a way to determine the competency of a lab to carry out the tests it performs. To become accredited, a lab must be audited by an outside body, which will spend several days on site reviewing documentation, examining test set ups, and interviewing employees.

The benefits to accreditation are that it gives external recognition of the technical competence of a lab, which leads to a marketing advantage as clients make choices about who will test their products.

What Does ISO 17025 Require?
The ISO 17025 standard consists of two main sections: management clauses and technical clauses. In the early days of the lab, auditors spent more time auditing the technical requirements to ensure the tests listed on our scope documents could, in fact, be performed.

Several years ago, a revision to the standard came out. The revision added several items to the management clauses. These included top management commitment, effectiveness of training, customer feedback, data analyses, and continuous improvement of the entire management system.

The auditors look for evidence of a documented management system, which consists of a quality manual, quality procedures, forms, and records. When they visit on site, they look for objective evidence that the procedures are being followed. Additionally, they spend a lot of time going through the lab to verify how tests are done. They may pull completed test reports, the standards used in those reports, and have lab personnel “walk” them through the steps taken to arrive at the final conclusions. Along the way, they may check if equipment is capable, if personnel have been trained, and that numerical results are within spec.

The ISO 17025 standard requires that all measuring and test equipment (MTE) be calibrated using standards that are traceable to a national standard. Additionally, it requires the calculation of what is called “measurement uncertainty,” which must be carefully estimated using statistical methods as well as “best guess” approximations. This is a complex process that must be done for each type of instrument used and applicable test results.

Other sections of the standard include: controlling documents, corrective action, customer service, complaints, purchasing, internal audits, lab methods used, and test reports.

Today – More and More Documentation
To maintain our status as an accredited lab, we must show documented evidence that we continue to comply with the standard. The amount of documentation has grown over the years; as has the number of standards we have the capability to test.

Because of the increased requirements of the ISO 17025 standard, IAPMO R&T Lab now has a separate Quality Department and a Quality Assurance manager.

Today, IAPMO R&T Lab is accredited through ACLASS, part of ANSI (American National Standards Institute). The ACLASS accreditation is recognized worldwide and should reduce our need for multiple listings with other agencies.

Ken Wijaya
Executive Vice President IAPMO R&T Labs

Last modified: December 30, 2022