It’s easy to become overwhelmed when it comes to maintaining procedures that require recurring activities within your quality manual; equipment procedures, technician evaluations, PSP samples, and management reviews – just to name a few. Examples of procedures that don’t require frequencies would be storage, retention and disposal of test samples and identifying samples. Let’s take a closer look at how these procedures can affect time management.

The heart of the quality manual  

Think of your QM as an evergreen document that is continually being updated, not just revisited when absolutely necessary or when the on-site assessment is due. Your QM is a way to communicate with your team and to demonstrate real quality within the laboratory.

The management of equipment calibrations, checks, standardizations and maintenance procedures is arguably the most time consuming and possibly the most subjective in regards to what is required within the procedure. The typical laboratory can have on average 100+ pieces of equipment that require ongoing procedures with frequencies of 6 to 12 months, and most of those with two procedures. This could be the management of 300 procedures annually by either an outside testing service or an in-house procedure with ‘measurement standards’ used in the process.

Based on the average number of procedures that are required in a typical lab, at least one completed procedure per day is required to stay current. Many labs will take a more realistic approach by aligning their equipment procedures on given months to minimize downtime within the laboratory.

Additionally, all procedures need to be reviewed annually against the current test standards to be sure they are updated with all changes.

Outside testing services

Many laboratories choose to have outside calibration services come on-site to perform equipment procedures as opposed to creating in-house procedures and personally performing them.

In-house procedures

In-house equipment procedures are created for calibrations/standardizations/checks/maintenance, and performed by laboratory personnel using ‘measurement standards’ (non-working measurement devices),

Strategy

Whether you use laboratory personnel or an outside consultant, in addition to the QMS Manager, consider delegating the responsibility of overseeing specific areas and management of equipment procedures that would provide an extra set of eyes and oversight in the critical part of your quality manual.

Have a process

• Annual test standards review
• Lab staff performing in-house procedures
• QMS Manager review and finalize all equipment procedures prior to saving; verify completeness, follow most updated standards, meets frequency requirements?
• Contracting with outside calibration service; same QMS manager review
• Reminder system in place

User questions

Q: I would like to add test standards to the list found under the Manage Lab tab / Test methods, how can I do this?

A: This can easily be done within the Manage Lab tab and click ’add’ and the window will open titled New Test Method. This will allow the user to add new test procedures that will be added to the list.

Resources

R18LabQMS YouTube channel
Training and informational videos that include version updates, R18LabQMS demos and more.

R18LabQMS has a knowledge base
Accessible from the dashboard within the application, top right “help”.

Training 0pportunities

Once you work through the setup process, the following links can be found in the lower right-hand corner of the application:

• Support
• User Guide
• R18 Blog
• WebEx – Additional training, please let us know and we can set this up.
• Onsite Training – Fee-based, please inquire.

Upcoming meetings for 2019

ASTM
June 4-6, 2019 • Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel; Denver, CO

2019 AASHTO Committee on Materials & Pavements (AASHTO COMP)
August 5-9, 2019 • Baltimore, Maryland

For all questions regarding your quality management system, whether your lab is accredited or not, please contact us and learn how R18LabQMS can add value to your company.

– Gary Irvine
R18LabQMS Program Manager