Creating and managing equipment procedures

Creating and managing equipment procedures

Within any quality manual, creating and managing your equipment procedures is arguably the most laborious activity for your laboratory.

In our case, we have four areas of accreditation with over 130 pieces of equipment requiring a combination of calibrations, standardizations, checks and maintenance procedures with various frequencies. With an average of two procedures with a 12- month frequency, that requires 260 procedures to be completed throughout the year!

Every procedure needs to be completed and recorded in a timely fashion for a host of reasons, such as maintaining the integrity and quality of your test results within the lab, customer confidence and accreditation requirements – just to name a few.

Let’s review a few key points when creating and maintaining equipment procedures.

Creating procedure

Every laboratory has their own methods and preference when it comes to creating the procedure forms while meeting the requirements within AASHTO R18. The R18LabQMS application was designed to be as flexible and intuitive as possible to accommodate those requirements so, when creating a procedure, you will either have the equipment procedure performed by laboratory staff (in-house procedure), or an outside calibration service. Either way, documentation needs to be created for each procedure that was performed.

In-house procedures

In-house procedures are performed by laboratory staff using measurement standards (non-working pieces of equipment). Reference equipment (measurement standards) used to perform calibrations, standardizations, checks, or maintenance procedures must include the manufacturer serial and model numbers.

Equipment procedure forms need to follow the requirements and guidelines of the “AASHTO R18 Standard found in section 6.3: Procedures for Individual Pieces of Equipment” and in-house procedures need to have detailed written procedure reports.

Outside calibration service

Similar to in-house procedures, however, you still will declare within the procedure that it has been performed by an outside service and provide the documentation meeting the minimum requirements for documentation. 

Procedure records

Whether you are performing in-house procedures or having an outside service do so, it’s always important to be sure all required documentation is included. This can be found in “AASHTO R18, section 6.5 Equipment Records.”

Equipment procedure intervals

Once you have created your equipment procedure forms for maintaining your records, it’s now critical to determine the frequency of action on those procedures; guidelines are found in the “AASHTO R18 Annex A – Equipment Calibration, Standardization, check, and Maintenance Tables.” Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in regards to maintenance procedures.

Copy or add existing procedures

Created equipment calibration/check/standardization/maintenance procedures can be shared within the primary and satellite laboratories. This is one of the most significant advantages when using the R18LabQMS application. Also, if there is an edit to a specific procedure the change will update the procedure within all accounts, which can be a big time saver.

User question

Q: I have some trouble building the organization chart and adding users. I need to place technicians under me, how is this done?

A: First, I’ll address adding technicians as users: go to the Users tab on the far right, there you will find + New User. It’s important to note that whenever you add users to the application they will immediately be sent an email from service@r18labqms.com with a link to create their unique password. Make sure new users are aware of this as some will sometimes say after a couple of weeks that they never received an email. Check again, it might have ended up in a clutter, junk or spam folder.

Secondly, to organize your organizational chart simply click on the Users Tab where you will find ‘Org Chart’, click and the org chart will appear. To edit, just click modify (left), then drag and drop (holding the user’s name when dragging). When completed, click save to the left of modify.

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 (one 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, 2021-22 is looking good! 

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, TN. 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