The right tools in the midst of change

The right tools in the midst of change

With the recent turn of events affecting our nation, it is crystal clear there has been a seismic shift in the way we will be doing business for the foreseeable future. If there’s one thing that’s certain in life – it’s change. 

This past January I reminded the laboratory we would be having our biannual on-site assessment with AASHTO re:source only to be notified in April that all onsite assessments have been suspended until further notice. 

Pivot and change

Later in April, the announcement was made that Remote Assessments (RA) would be offered to accommodate laboratories with urgent needs that include first time assessments, adding tests to the scope of accreditation, remedial or to meet the request from a specifier. One requirement for laboratories requesting an RA is that they provide all documents and records as required by AASHTO R18 either by uploading on their portal or by providing access to a web-based management system. 

On May 21st there was a webinar outlining the RA process that included Q&A from the audience. The questions were great, with one being, “When will accreditation bodies resume their onsite assessments and what will that look like?” The answer was “time will tell.” With disruption and change comes new ideas and better processes that, otherwise, may never have come to fruition.

Be prepared with the right tools

Around 1978, when I began my career in materials testing, there were no computers, just small basic handheld calculators – just one step above a slide ruler. Think about that!

My first lab experience was in a mechanical properties laboratory where we crunched numbers with paper, pencil, used x-y plotters and changed the speed of the test machine by manually swapping out gears (old school Instron) with everything on paper. 

As the years passed, computers began to enter the world of business and into our laboratory. We were able to use computers to calculate more complex equations but the size of the computer was massive! Wow, we were impressed. I used to say that in the future, test samples would be placed into a test machine, a button would be pushed and the results would come out on the other end. That idea sounded crazy but it would be amazing. Here we are, several decades later, and we’re almost there.

Business and technology will continue to evolve. We always need to keep up and be prepared with what life throws at us and be ready for opportunities that are presented.

As we move in uncharted waters it’s going to be increasingly necessary to be prepared for what lies ahead. Using the right tools will affect the way we do business. In the case of our Quality Management Systems, paper copies have become a thing of the past. Keeping pace with changes in the standards and documentation will be essential.

User questions

Q: I’m occasionally asked, is it possible to delete a saved document, users, or a procedure that was inadvertently saved and needs to be edited?

A: I won’t get into every scenario here (that’s for another post), but the main reason for the inability to delete certain information is that the policy to ensure all records are retained for a minimum of 5 years; please see section 5.9.1 in AASHTO R18 for specific affected areas. That said, we have assisted laboratories where there are duplications that don’t conflict with the R18 standard.

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;


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 2018 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