Primary and satellite lab accounts

Primary and satellite lab accounts

From the inception and development of R18LabQMS in 2012, we wanted laboratories to have the ability to manage multiple Quality Management Systems (QMS) in one place that would provide better management and standardize procedures. And because a company can be running multiple labs in various locations, the concept of the satellite lab was born. Let’s recap the description and functionality of both the primary and satellite lab accounts.

Primary lab accounts

All laboratories using R18LabQMS start their accounts/subscriptions with a primary lab (PL). While following the guidelines of AASHTO R18 you can manage all your laboratory procedures, including equipment inventory and cal/check/standard/maintenance procedures, as you navigate through the R18LabQMS application. There is a dedicated Quality Manual tab within the application that takes the place of the ‘big three-ring binders’ that are in most laboratories today, 

The R18LabQMS application and the primary lab status are designed and meant for a single physical location that meets the criteria of a QMS for accreditation bodies when onsite or remote assessments take place. While the primary lab status is for just that, the primary lab and not for multiple physical locations, you can have multiple areas of accreditation within that lab, i.e aggregate, asphalt binder, emulsified asphalt, concrete, etc., to meet the requirements of your accreditation for that single physical location. 

There are no limitations to the inventory quantity, users, or categories within the primary lab account. Within the quality manual, sections 5 (Management) and section 6 (Technical), you will find the minimum needed procedures as required by AASHTO R18. Custom sections can also be added to accommodate specific laboratory requirements that include ASTM Quality Standards.  

Satellite lab accounts

It is common that most laboratories within companies work autonomously, using various methods and procedures; this can compromise the quality and outcome of testing results, the very essence for creating and maintaining a QMS.

Companies that manage quality management systems with multiple laboratories can find it challenging when it comes to standardized processes and procedures between labs. Adding satellite laboratory (SL) accounts to the primary lab account can have multiple advantages.


The PL and SL function exactly the same. When logging into your account, the PL will be the first to be listed – just click to access the desired lab. Access to all laboratory accounts is only allowed by the primary lab manager (role). For a detailed description of user roles please see our recent blog entry entitled Managing users and their roles.

After the setup process is completed for the PL and the setup process is initiated for the SL account, all the content/procedure will carry over to the SL. All content can be kept the same as for the PL or be edited to accommodate specific requirements for each SL. This makes it easy to complete all SL accounts keeping standardized procedures between labs within your company.

Laboratory inventory is the only exception when setting up the SL account as each laboratory has its own specific inventory list. 

Equipment cal/check/standard/maintenance procedures that are created within the family of accounts can be shared between laboratories; this is one of the most significant advantages with R18LabQMS. Also, if there is an edit to a specific procedure, this change will update the procedure within all accounts, and this can be a big time saver!

Once your lab has established a PL, setting up the SL is relatively easy. To add an SL to the PL from the application, simply click the Manage Lab tab/View Satellite labs, then +New Satellite Lab. Once this is done we will be notified to activate the new SL. 

 User question

Q: I have added comments when taking a piece of equipment out of service, however, I’m not sure where to find the comments. I looked in the procedure history under service records for the piece of equipment that was taken out of service, the comments I put in weren’t there, just ‘Equipment Taken Out of Service.’ Please help!

A: After investigating the comments when taking out of service, we found that the default comments prevailed, ‘‘Equipment Taken Out of Service,’ which is not correct. If the user places comments when taking out of service, those comments should supersede the default comments. We have since fixed this ‘bug’ and now the actual comments from the user are visible, not the default. 

Note: This is a great example of users reporting to us whenever they run across any bugs or issues in the application, a big thanks to our user.

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
  • Virtual Training (1 hour or less, no fees), contact us for an appointment
  • Extensive Virtual Training – Fee-based, please inquire.

Upcoming meetings

All travel to industry meetings will be assessed on their scheduled dates, hopefully we can reset in 2021-22!

We are planning the next sponsorship event with AAPT (Association of Asphalt Paving Technologist) Annual (hybrid) Meeting & Technical Sessions August 30 – September 2, 2021, in Nashville, Please visit the AAPT website for the most up to date details. 

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