Managing and maintaining equipment procedure forms and required information can be labor intensive if done correctly, so let’s take a look at the requirements, formats and changes that come annually to the AASHTO R18 standard.

Laboratories are required for accreditation to perform calibration, standardization, checks and maintenance procedures. While these requirements are executed through in-house procedures, laboratories may also engage with an outside calibration service. This will involve the creation of in-house procedure forms that must follow specific guidelines. Record keeping is also a key part of the process in order to maintain accreditation. Additionally, there are maximum intervals for procedures performed on equipment as listed in the AASHTO R18 Standard, Annex A, tables A.1 through A.9. 

Procedure form content

As listed in section 6.5, this should be used as a guideline when creating forms for equipment procedures. I have found this to be very subjective with laboratories, some will create a detailed multi-page procedure, while others barely meet the minimum requirements. Procedure forms should be reviewed against section 6.5, changes that are potentially made in the standard annually and the test standard requirements for equipment used for a specific test. Many laboratories refer to SOPs (standard operating procedures) when performing equipment procedures, this can easily be outlined within the procedure form.  

Creating procedures

When creating procedures within R18LabQMS (cal/check/standard/maintenance) users will have three options:

Add existing procedures   

Add procedures that are already created without making any changes. Use this option when you are trying to use the same procedure for the same or similar pieces of equipment, like ovens or thermometers. Once a procedure is created, it can be added/used in both the primary lab or your satellite lab. 

Copy from existing procedures

Make a copy of a procedure that will be similar to the original but may have a different frequency or specification requirements the original procedure. This is useful when you have a piece of equipment that requires two different calibrations with differing frequencies or calibration requirements.

Create a new procedure

Create a new procedure from one of the procedure types – calibration, standardization, check or maintenance. Make the procedure unique or generic by utilizing the application form creator or upload an in-house procedure already being used in your laboratory.

Creating a new procedure

When creating a new procedure you will provide the following information: 

  • Procedure name
  • Procedure type (ca;/check/standard/maintenance)
  • Procedure ID 
  • Frequency (see annex A in R18)
  • Reference standards
  • Upload in-house procedures (optional) that may already be established in a Word doc, or Excel

All procedures will require a basic procedure form that will have default elements. Form elements can be added and be exclusively used in lieu of any other in-house procedures. Added in-house procedures can also be used in conjunction with the procedure form. The basic default form elements are as follows:

  • Measurement standard (non-working instruments used for in-house procedures)
  • (multiple) File upload option, supporting documentation, calibration certificate from outside service.
  • Signature 
  • Date completed on (this date will drive the next procedure date based on the frequency set, and appear on your dashboard)

R18LabQMS user questions

Q:  How do I remove equipment from my inventory, even from the ‘out of service’ tab?

A: You must first take equipment out of service, then the equipment will be listed in the “out of service” tab. In order to remove equipment from being listed as out of service, all associated equipment procedures (cal/check/standard/maintenance) must be removed. This is done by going to the procedure history tab, select the category (equipment is in). Then select the out of service equipment and then remove the procedures associated with the equipment.

Lastly, go back into the equipment inventory tab, then the out of service tab and view equipment details and click remove. This will completely remove the selected piece of equipment from the inventory records both in service and out of service. Be cautious when removing equipment records as this will remove them permanently.

Resources

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

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