As fast as technology changes, we could write a blog entry on this subject quite frequently. The more labs that we speak with in regards to their QMS management methods, more and more, they are wanting to “manage in one place” with a standardized method. However, there are limited options that accomplish this goal. I recently presented R18LabQMS to a laboratory that has multiple software applications with multiple labs in several states. They have been searching for the one-stop-shop solution and have now found it.
Back in 1988 when the AASHTO Accreditation Program (AAP) was launched, the internet of things (connecting any device with an on and off switch to the internet) was non-existent and “SAAS” (software as a service) solutions were not even a concept. Consequently, when laboratories pursued accreditation they followed the guidelines of AASHTO R18 while management tools were limited, outside of the basic pen and paper and a manila folder.
So rather than go through the evolution of how laboratories have managed their QMS, let’s explore what big picture decisions a laboratory needs to go through today when deciding to embark on the accreditation process.
• Understand the purpose of accreditation – to show laboratory competency and to provide accountability for your processes, procedures, and equipment calibrations.
• Provide a description of why your lab is pursuing accreditation, be specific.
• Count the cost before beginning the process. Count not only the fees required by the accreditation body but the time and effort spent by laboratory personnel on an annual basis.
• Establish a timeline in which you would like to achieve your accreditation. Do this after first accounting for all the requirements and costs involved. Don’t just say, “I need my accreditation by a certain date.” That may not be realistic.
• Determine areas of accreditation that your laboratory is seeking.
• Develop a team in the process of establishing your QMS and assign specific tasks.
• Determine the accreditation body that is right for your laboratory.
• Choose management tools that will be used to manage your procedures while following the quality standard at hand. This is the most commonly overlooked detail. During onsite assessments, the assessor will ask to see your quality manual.
• Active and ongoing management of your QMS – what does this look like? Your QMS is an evergreen document that should be used on a routine basis, this will not only meet the requirements for accreditation but fulfill the purpose of accreditation.
• Commit to the process.
R18LabQMS User Questions
Q: Are version updates included with my annual subscription, and if so, how is that handled, and will we be notified?
A: Yes! All version updates to the application are included at no additional cost to the user. Being a web-based solution, updates are done seamlessly. All users are notified when logging into the application under application “news.” We write blog entries outlining any updates.
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”.
Once you work through the setup process, the following links can be found in the lower right-hand corner of the application:
• 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
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