Business disruption – a new normal?

Business disruption – a new normal?

As business-minded people when thinking of business disruption, we generally think of businesses like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb – businesses that have literally changed their industries.

What’s exciting with this type of disruption in the business community is that it spurs innovation, creativity and the discovery of what may be on the horizon.  

As we navigate these trying times I believe it’s fair to say we are experiencing a time of business disruption like never before, a painful disruption that will undoubtedly force a change in the way we conduct business. Yet, at the same time, and because of the disruption, I believe business and the entrepreneurial spirit will rise up like a roaring lion to bring about innovation and creativity as we have never seen before. The process may be long and painful but in the end, we will be more efficient, more effective and stronger for it.   

So with that being said, I wanted to look at where we are as an industry. Specifically how the accreditation and management process may look like going forward, and how accreditation bodies will interact with laboratories and their Quality Management Systems (QMS) in the future. Will it be back to business as usual? Most likely not for the foreseeable future. I would expect to see changes in processes with improvements in areas that we had never thought of. 

Accreditation bodies

With accreditation bodies putting on-site assessments on hold until further notice and pushing back dates of events, it’s clear that they are retooling and planning for the future. Recent comments on the AASHTO re:source website indicate things are not going to be the way they were for a while, yet encouraging everyone to continue with all accreditation activities where possible.

Navigating through times of uncertainty 

While in the holding pattern and with accreditation events and dates on hold, the single most important thing for all accredited laboratories is to maintain all normal activities when possible and document activities that are out of your control. An example might be if your laboratory uses an outside calibration service, to document all activities and consider performing or creating an in-house procedure following all standard guidelines including the use of measurement standards. 

Fundamental accreditation actions and requirements

So let’s quickly review the fundamental requirements of the accreditation process to help us identify areas of potential change.

The first five action items to begin your accreditation process

  1. The first order of business is to determine which accreditation body you will be working with.
  2. Determine the areas of accreditation you are pursuing such as performance-graded binder, aggregates, soils, cements, etc.
  3. Within each area of accreditation determine the specific standards that your accreditation will include.
  4. Determine the quality systems your accreditation will include, i.e., AASHTO R18, ASTM D3666, etc.
  5. Use tools and resources like R18LabQMS – A web-based Quality Management System that follows the guidelines of AASHTO R18.  

Basic requirements for accreditation with the AASHTO Accreditation Program (AAP)

  • Participate in the PSP (proficiency sample program)
    • This requirement is the least likely to change its process, samples are prepared and sent to the laboratory with final test results returned electronically.
  • Establish and maintain a Quality Management System / Quality Manual
    • This is an area that may have a significant impact; being a major part of the accreditation process that includes procedures, processes, and documentation. With the assessor reviewing the entire Quality Manual on-site, there could be a need to provide the QM virtually using a web based environment for review at specified intervals.  
  • On-site assessment every 18-24 months
    • With this having the biggest impact in the short term, there will be a need to move forward with observing a laboratory’s performance and compliance with the accreditation requirements. At a minimum, safety protocols will need to be established and in place for the assessors.

User questions

Q: Can you shed some insight on why the application does not show Sections 6.3 and 6.4? I know equipment and procedures and their calibration intervals are in R18, but for the casual observer, it appears these sections are missing. Any thoughts?

A: Not all sections are in the QM that you see in AASHTO R18, only sections that require content or a specific procedure will be listed and have the edit option. Each year we review the R18 Standard for any changes that need to be updated within the application. Those changes are made so all users have access to those updates. Also, you can customize your QM by adding sections to meet your specific needs. Add sections by going to the top of the QM tab “Custom Sections.” There you will have the following options; Title, Chapter, Section, Subsection, Minor Subsection, and Entry Type. That said, we may add a specific section that will provide guidance for upcoming sections in the future.

Resources and training opportunities

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

–         Support

–         R18 Blog

–         WebEx Training, please let us know and we can set this up.

–         Onsite Training – Fee-based, please inquire.

 Upcoming meetings

 AAPT (Association of Asphalt Paving Technologist)

  • Sponsor (on-site)  
  • Tentative dates are now September 13-16, 2020, San Diego, CA

 SEAUPG 2020 Annual Meeting & Exhibits

  • Sponsor (on-site)  
  • November 17-19, 2020
  • Knoxville, Tennessee

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

R18LabQMS Program Manager