June 28, 2023
When you bring your product to a test lab, you want assurance that the engineers are qualified, the equipment is calibrated, and the test procedures agree with the standards. In the event your product is ever challenged for noncompliance with a requirement, you want to have data from an independent third party showing that it was compliant.
A third-party test lab is an independent facility not involved in the design or manufacture of the product being tested. Elite Electronic Engineering has been one of those for nearly 70 years. Elite’s laboratory is accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), showing that the labs are competent to carry out specific tasks.
A2LA assessors visited Elite for several days in June to review the applicable requirements necessary to maintain Elite’s scope of accreditation. Assessors visit accredited labs every two years. They audit the laboratory’s management system, confirm that equipment is calibrated, ensure test processes are followed, and review the competency of the staff.
Part of the assessment involves talking with the test engineers, who are asked to demonstrate how a test is performed and how the engineer knows that it is correct. These are like the pop quizzes you might have been given in school, where you’re asked without advance notice to explain or demonstrate how a task is done.
As an accredited laboratory, Elite is required to follow the ISO17025 & ISO17065 quality management systems for all testing performed at the facility. These tests may or may not be directly on Elite’s scope of accreditation, as Elite performs testing to a vast array of services and specifications. Elite’s focus is on ensuring that industry-recognized reference standards are on its scope of accreditation. For tests found on Elite’s scope, those tests are fair game for the assessor to ask that they be demonstrated by Elite’s test engineers.
Among the requirements to maintain accreditation is the maintenance of test procedures. The test engineer does not necessarily need to know all the steps from memory but must be able to readily call up the procedure and follow the steps correctly.
The assessor also reviews the lab’s recordkeeping, checking equipment calibration documents, test reports, staff training records, and more. A lab like Elite with an expansive array of services takes most of a week to go through the range of documents and staff interviews.
Upon completion of the assessment, the lab receives a summary report from the assessor. Any deficiencies, large or small, are noted, and the lab has a limited window of time to resolve them and provide evidence of their resolution.
As expected, Elite passed A2LA’s assessment and can continue to show that it carries A2LA’s accreditation. At the end of the assessment Elite’s quality manager Robert Bugielski had this to say: “I’m proud of how the team conducted themselves during the assessment. Our test engineers and team leaders are the backbone of the laboratory. Their expertise and execution of our quality system continues to provide exceptional service to our customers.”
Contact Elite if you have questions about the accreditation process and Elite’s ongoing status. Elite’s promise has been that your product’s tests are done by our experts, on your schedule, with trusted results. A2LA and NVLAP accreditations confirm that you can count on it.