August 16, 2012, Accutek Engineering Team
By: Kevin Conley, Lab Technician
Audit season is ending here at Accutek and I can’t tell you how relieved I am. If you’ve ever been through one, I’m sure you understand how stressful they are. Each year, or every other year depending on the certifying organization, an auditor comes in and evaluates whether or not your laboratory has earned their seal of approval, based on your quality system procedures and practices.
I’m happy to report that Accutek has survived three audits this year, earning the seal of approval from A2LA and Nadcap. A2LA accredits us to ISO 17025 (Mechanical Testing). NADCAP accredits us to AC7101 (Metallurgical Testing), as well as our newly added accreditation, AC7113 (Weld Testing). Check out our Accreditations page for our certifications and scopes. Accutek is also pleased to announce the newest additions to our ISO 17025 scope: ASTM F2193, ASTM F2267, ASTM F543, and ASTM F1798!
What happens during an audit?
When Accutek is audited our entire quality system is fair game for the auditor to review. This includes review of our quality manual, standard operating procedures, calibration reports and test reports. There are hundreds, if not thousands of controlled documents that make up our quality system. So, as you can see, it’s not a typical trip to the dentist for a cleaning …it’s a root canal. We do this to ensure that we are consistently producing the high quality test reports that clients have come to expect, and rely upon, from Accutek.
Since it’s still fresh in my mind, I’d like to provide those of you who may be audited with some tips and ideas on how to make it through your rookie audit with your sanity intact:
• First, try to relax. Its audit time and you’ve done everything to prepare.
• Be organized. This is one of the most important tips I can give. The auditor wants to see most of the documents pertaining to the accreditation. If you can’t locate them, it may mean major findings or loss of accreditation.
• If you have a team, get them involved. They’ll have a better understanding of the process you’re going through and appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining a quality system.
• Remember, auditors are people too. Bring coffee and bagels in the morning, they will appreciate the hospitality.
• Be honest and genuine. Ultimately, an auditor’s job is to provide you with a valuable service and help you and your team to be the best it can be.
• Follow your procedures line by line. If you need to print it out and have it in front of you, do it!
• If you have questions or are unsure about anything during the audit, ask someone. Guessing is a no-no.
• Last but not least, have fun. This is a learning experience and is going to benefit you in the long run. Auditors are typically (I haven’t met all of them) intelligent, well rounded individuals. They have seen and experienced a substantial amount. If you listen, and heed the advice and recommendations, you will improve your business.
Audits can be exhausting, but the end result is well worth the time and energy. You’ll definitely need to blow off some steam when it’s all over. Have fun and enjoy the ride.