ISO/IEC 17025, “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories,” is the go-to standard for certification of testing labs. So when you’re learning about standards and how to use them, you may have questions on what the relationship is between testing labs and the ISO/IEC 17025. There’s a great article in InCompliance magazine this month. It’s titled “Specifying Accredited Calibration Services: A Review of Electrical Test Equipment.” And it describes how you use the ISO/IEC 17025 certification to help you find a calibration lab for your product testing.
First of all, use of the ISO/IEC 17025 is one of two primary standards on calibration. Along with ANSI-Z540.3, the successor for ANSI-Z540.1, it replaces the old MIL-C-45662 (later MIL-STD-45662), “Calibration System Requirements.” These standards are used by test labs the world over to make sure that testing is correct and reproduceable by correct calibration of the equipment used.
The article divides your process in getting an accredited calibration service into two primary activities: Finding an appropriate lab and issuing the purchase order along with the receipt of the final results. This is particularly helpful, since many folks don’t realize that accreditation is the way you the customer know that your test lab will provide you with valid results.
Finding the lab boils down to three major concerns. First, is the lab accreditated by an ILAC signatory accreditation body? This is your verification that a third-body certification organization has reviewed the processes at the test lab in question and that these meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025. Secondly, you’ll want to confirm that the test lab has the expertise to work with your product. Part of this is obviously confirmed by the scope of accreditation. But you may also need to take into account such factors as location, since you may need to have your testers work on your premises rather than at their facility. Lastly, you’ll want to review the accreditation to confirm that it is current (not expired). You can do this at the accreditation body’s website in most cases.
Specifying the work by way of a purchase order is your assurance that the work that the lab does will meet your products needs. Section 4.6.3 of ISO/IEC 17025 describes the technical content you’ll need to include. And you’ll also want to make sure that you include enough detail to assure that any regulatory or other legal requirements can be fulfilled by the work the test lab does for you.
When you get back your report, check it out to make sure that the calibration certificate contains all the information requested on the PO. And you may also have labelling requirements to verify as well.
The article then provides you with a sample process for obtaining an accredited calibration for an LPDA antenna. This is particularly helpful for those of you with electrical equipment that needs to be tested. You can follow this example when considering how to set up your procedure for certification of your electrical equipment in the future.
Meantime, good testing relies on both strong calibration procedures and using the proper standards for the testing. When you need standards for these types of purposes, search for and order them on the Document Center Inc. website (www.document-center.com). We’ve been working with standards since 1982 and have a detailed catalog of documents for you to choose from. And should you have questions, our staff is here to help you! Just reach out to us by phone (650-591-7600) and/or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’re your Standards Experts!