For both high tech manufacturers and testing and calibration laboratories, being able to produce precise and accurate test data is vital for establishing competence. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) are both non-governmental organisations which work to improve standards of safety, reliability and quality for products and services. The ISO/IEC 17025 standard is a joint effort by both organisations, first issued in 1999, to establish a standard for calibration and testing laboratories.
Why ISO/IEC 17025 matters
ISO/IEC 17025 is the accepted international standard for all testing and calibration laboratories. Being recognised as working to this standard is vital for establishing trust in the results you produce. Accreditation for the standard shows that you are working in a technically competent way and are producing accurate, precise data. For independent labs, this will give clients confidence in your services, while for in house testing facilities it will demonstrate that your company’s quality control procedures are appropriate and your products are safe, reliable and of good quality.
How accreditation works
Getting accredited for the ISO/IEC 17025 standard is entirely voluntary, but not doing so isn’t really an option if you want people to place their trust in the data you generate. In the UK accreditation is carried out by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and involves thorough evaluation of a laboratory’s processes and quality management systems on a regular basis. Accreditation demonstrates your technical competence and compliance with the ISO/IEC 17025 standard.
Quality management systems
Quality management in laboratories usually revolves around three factors – accuracy, reliability and timeliness. Good quality results are those which are deemed to be accurate, produced by reliable processes and delivered within an acceptable time frame in order to be useful. Quality management systems, therefore, focus on ensuring that these three factors can be successfully and consistently achieved.
ISO define a quality management system as “coordinated activities to direct and control an organization with regard to quality”. These activities need to take account of all processes and procedures carried out in the lab as part of any testing activities. Ensuring these processes and procedures are carried out adequately involves controlling a number of factors including:
Organisation – The first step in any quality management system is making sure the structure and management of the laboratory is appropriately organised to facilitate the production of high quality results. This includes making sure all staff are aware of the required standards and how to achieve them and that the necessary controls are in place and appropriately recorded and monitored.
Personnel – Human error is one of the biggest causes of quality issues in any facility, so making sure staff have the appropriate training, oversight and encouragement is vital.
Equipment – Without high quality equipment it will be very hard to achieve precise, accurate, repeatable results. Making sure you chose the best possible apparatus for your needs will make it much easier to produce reliable data.
Facilities – Maintaining a consistent testing environment optimised for the processes being undertaken will allow you to produce reliable, repeatable data.
How TEK can help you achieve ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation
One of the most important elements of any quality management system is being able to control the testing environment. Here at Total Environmental Kooling we specialise in creating temperature controlled rooms that will allow you to maintain the optimal conditions you need for accurate measurements. Our systems are fully compliant with the ISO/IEC 17025 standard and we have years of experience helping our customers gain accreditation so are well placed to advise you on the best steps to take for your organisation. We can also help you control humidity, air flow and air quality to produce an ideal testing and calibration environment.
To find out more about how TEK can help you meet and exceed ISO/IEC 17025 standards, call us today on 0117 9523355 or fill out our contact form and we will get back to you promptly.