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Outside Calibration - Accredited, certified - Is NIST traceability guaranteed?

rstocum

Involved In Discussions
#1
I am sorry if this subject has been answered somewhere else. I could'nt find it with a basic search. I am the quality engineer for a company seeking ISO9001:2000 registration. We are reviewing our gage lab methods and are wondering: where it comes to our outside calibration (surface plates, comparators, scales, etc.) if the lab we contract these services to is A2LA "accredited", and ISO 17025 "certified", is it automatically known to our registrar's auditor that what they calibrate for us is traceable to NIST standards? Or do we need to get a statement from the lab to that effect?
 
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gard2372

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
rstocum said:
I am sorry if this subject has been answered somewhere else. I could'nt find it with a basic search. I am the quality engineer for a company seeking ISO9001:2000 registration. We are reviewing our gage lab methods and are wondering: where it comes to our outside calibration (surface plates, comparators, scales, etc.) if the lab we contract these services to is A2LA "accredited", and ISO 17025 "certified", is it automatically known to our registrar's auditor that what they calibrate for us is traceable to NIST standards? Or do we need to get a statement from the lab to that effect?
Section 7.6 does not specifically call out NIST or A2LA only that the tiems must be traceable. But you auditor should not question the A2LA traceability. Review your Cal labs ISO cert. Often, in the cert paragraph it usually will state certified to ....... And NIST or ANSI will usually be lsited.


You may want to review the release by A2LA.

http://www.a2la.org/press_releases/PR7799PolicyNIST.htm

http://www.a2la.org/annreports/2004_ar/annual_report/recognition.html

"The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has formally recognized A2LA as competent to accredit testing laboratories to meet the technical requirements for acceptance by European Union Member State Governments under the EMC Annex of the U.S. - EU Mutual Recognition Agreement. NIST has also recognized A2LA as an authorized body under the provisions of Phase I of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) MRA."
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#3
rstocum said:
I am sorry if this subject has been answered somewhere else. I could'nt find it with a basic search. I am the quality engineer for a company seeking ISO9001:2000 registration. We are reviewing our gage lab methods and are wondering: where it comes to our outside calibration (surface plates, comparators, scales, etc.) if the lab we contract these services to is A2LA "accredited", and ISO 17025 "certified", is it automatically known to our registrar's auditor that what they calibrate for us is traceable to NIST standards? Or do we need to get a statement from the lab to that effect?
If the calibration certificates you receive from your source don't explicitly refer to traceability, they should. Just because a lab is A2LA (or otherwise) accredited doesn't guarantee that each individual calibration was done using traceable standards, any more than ISO registration guarantees that each individual product will meet specifications.
 

Hershal

Metrologist-Auditor
Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
First thing to look at.....EVERY lab in the U.S. will claim they are traceable to NIST.....the claim without evidence means nothing.....

Accreditation to ANS/ISO/IEC 17025 when conducted by a recognized accrediting body means that the traceability has been checked and verified and that your 9K auditor should accpet it.

A note here, the internationally recognized accrediting bodies that are U.S.-based are: IAS, A2LA, NVLAP.

Also, the traceability does not have to be through NIST.....it can be through ANY of the NMIs (National Measurement Institutes) that are signatories to the BIPM arranagement.....for a U.S. organization, that means traceability through Canada or Mexico is EQUALLY ACCEPTABLE, though through the National body (in this case NIST is preferred).

One other thing to watch.....many labs will charge extra for the "accredited" certificate, which includes the logo and the uncertainties.....spend the extra to get the accredited cert, then you know it has what you need.

Hope this helps.

Hershal
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#5
Hershal said:
Accreditation to ANS/ISO/IEC 17025 when conducted by a recognized accrediting body means that the traceability has been checked and verified and that your 9K auditor should accpet it.
This does not mean, however, that nothing ever changes between visits from the accrediting body. The accreditation means that the last time someone looked, everything was OK. It doesn't mean that new standards of questionable pedigree weren't acquired the day after the visit. The likelihood is small, I know, and if the lab is properly accredited you're probably safe, but ISO auditing is about objective evidence, and making assumptions based on accreditation isn't objective evidence, imo.
 

rstocum

Involved In Discussions
#6
Gentlemen, thank you. One thing Hershal said was just stated by the management of our outside calibration lab. If there is ISO 17025 certfication accredited by an accrediting body like A2LA, the traceability of their equipment and inspection methods is understood to be traceable back to NIST standards. The guy I just spoke to said that is implicitly stated in the ISO 17025 certfication and he is faxing us a copy of it. One less headache on the road to ISO - thanks again.

Rich
 
R

ralphsulser

#7
We were cautioned by our TS16949 CB lead auditor to watch the certifications for next due date for the master gage blocks traceable to N.I.S.T. Every systems certification can look good until you look closely to see if they are beyond the due date. The CB auditor said she has seen a few out dated ones listed.
 
M

mikoyan

#8
Another word of caution. If you are using an ISO-17025 lab make sure that the items they are calibrating are covered by their scope. We got tripped up a couple years ago for that. The lab we were using was not accredited for some of the things they were calibrated.
 

apestate

Quite Involved in Discussions
#9
Ya this is a weak post but

Not sure if this has been covered in this thread, but one of the most common items of advice under this topic is to include the requirement for NIST traceable, accredited, full report calibration in the purchase order.

This is covered in ISO 9001:2000 under the heading "Purchasing information"
 
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