Maintaining your quality management system – an anniversary

Maintaining your quality management system – an anniversary

With many labs, it is easy as the busy season approaches to put off maintaining a quality management system (QMS). One area that is arguably the most active and comes due on a continuous basis is equipment procedures (EP).

In our lab, we have 150+ pieces of equipment, and between the calibrations, standardizations, checks, and maintenance, we end up with 300+ EPs that must be completed on an annual basis. While this can seem to be a daunting task, it’s easily managed within our R18LabQMS dashboard with widgets labeled past due, approaching deadlines and completed procedures.

Another helpful widget on the dashboard is the recurring checklist. On the first of each month, each section of AASHTO R18 will be listed with the option to dismiss (no changes) or click the link to be taken to the QMS to make changes and updates. The recurring checklist serves as a monthly reminder that assures the user of an updated QMS and being prepared for the next on-site assessment.

Areas often overlooked

A more specific example with subtle and easily overlooked changes can concern users. In the case of an employee who has been promoted from a technician level to a management position, this would involve three changes: user role within the application, updated job description and a biographical sketch/resume.  

Another example would be the method used in test reporting and updating that process in section 6.3.1.

Another area that can be easily overlooked is maintaining records of proficiency samples with low ratings (ratings of 0, 1, and 2).  This requires laboratories to document low ratings using the proficiency sample corrective action report that included a root cause analysis. In the past, laboratories were required to send this form to AMRL (now AASHTO re:source). However, you are now only required to maintain this record and include it with your PSP Records; not doing so will result in a non-conformity during an on-site assessment. Within R18LabQMS, this can easily be done by going to the reports tab, click view (results requiring corrective actions records), then click edit and add results.

Maintaining your quality manual will make onsite and remote assessments go smoothly with minimal stress and preparation, not to mention the time saved. 

There’s more to maintaining your QMS than just the aforementioned. There are required maintenance items with the accreditation body, and in the case of AASHTO Resource, they have a great article available titled:  Maintaining AASHTO Accreditation, Maintaining Quality. And while you’re there, please check out their other great resources on re:university.

On a side note

R18LabQMS is celebrating its 10th year since launching on March 10, 2013. Our very first subscriber signed up two weeks later and is still on board as a user today.

R18LabQMS is now used in 40 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, universities and DOTs. 

User question

Q: We love the fact that we were able to import our equipment inventory, what about importing or adding equipment procedures (EP), how does that work?

A: Great question, and one that we are exploring and the best way to do it. Most if not all laboratories manage and create EPs differently, so the solution is not cut and dry. That said, we have learned a lot over the course of time since R18LabQMS was launched in March 2013. 

Currently, you can import your equipment inventory within the inventory tab using the import template, however, this does not include EPs. The solution we are currently looking at is adding two columns that would be labeled procedure ID and next procedure date. This would only apply if the lab has existing procedures and would add them to individual pieces of equipment on the import template. 

BONUS content for our R18LabQMS user

Passwords should be 8-70 characters with upper- and lower-case letters and numbers.


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


Getting started with R18LabQMS and what we provide regarding training, both virtual and onsite. Before we dive into options, getting started happens within the setup process, it is intuitive and follows the sections that require procedures within the management and technical sections. Each section number within the setup process corresponds to AASHTO R18. You can either type your Procedure Itself or upload a file with the details of the procedure. I always tell labs during a demo it’s much like a ‘Turbo Tax’ experience, it walks you through each step.

Once you have completed the setup process, or wish to move on to the dashboard view, just click save progress and exit setup in the upper right-hand corner. It’s straightforward and intuitive.

Additional training needed to jump-start the onboarding process: 

Virtual training

We target a specific area for training and limit the time to one hour. An example would be adding equipment procedures to your equipment. There is no charge for virtual training limited to one hour.

Onsite training

We spend one day in your laboratory to review all aspects of your quality manual and take a deep dive into R18labQMS implementation. This training is fee-based, please inquire. 

Upcoming meetings and sponsorships

2023 AASHTO re:source Technical Exchange  Sponsor

Fort Worth, Texas, March 27-30, 2023

ASTM  Sponsor ‘working lunches’

Denver, CO, June 6-8, 2023

AAPT  Sponsor

San Diego, CA, September 12-15, 2023

Please check out our most recent promotional R18LabQMS video.

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 laboratory.

One last favor to ask, if there is a specific topic of discussion you would like to see in the upcoming posts, please send us a note.

Gary Irvine
R18LabQMS Program Manager