Which NAVLAP or A2LA Laboratory Accreditation Body?

F

Fatboy

#1
Can anyone tell me which accreditation body (NAVLAP or A2LA) is the best bang for the buck? Is one better/easier to work with?

Thanks in advance.
 
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D

D.Scott

#2
First of all, welcome to the Cove. It is nice to see another representative from the Lone Star State.

In my opinion, I think you need to put your own bang in your buck. The degree to which you benefit from a good system is entirely up to you. Both the bodies you mention are supposedly impartial in their accreditation and neither would be able to consult on your system.

The A2LA is the older of the 2 and is probably more well known and might even give the perception of carrying more weight with your customers. NAVLAP is just as well respected by those who take the time to look into it but they are admittedly the newer. The real "new kid on the block" is LAB which I understand is also a very fine group. If you are speaking purely of a calibration lab/service there is also 2pCP through AIAG.

I think your bang will probably come through a well defined and maintained system and short of hiring a consultant, I can't think of a better place to get some answers than right here at the Cove. If you haven't spent the few dollars for membership, I would suggest it. You will get a lot more than the small cost in a very short time.

Good luck with your lab and once again, welcome.

Dave
 
J

jeffster

#3
Dave,

I have heard stories where political squabbles have allowed companies which have been accredited by agencies other than A2LA (LAB) to not be recognized. I was told by one LAB operator that if they had a piece of equipment calibrated at a firm which was accredited by LAB, A2LA would not consider that equipment calibrated.

We are also trying to decide on which way to go with 17025 accreditation and I am curious as to what experiences others have had.

Thanks,

Jeff
 

Hershal

Metrologist-Auditor
Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Folks,

Time for some history.

The first accreditation in the U.S. predates both NVLAP and A2LA, issued by an AB known then as ICBO ES, now known as IAS. Yes, we are the oldest AB of our type in the country. First accreditation issued in 1975.

NVLAP came next, with A2LA close on its heels. That is the order of origination.

Numerous others are in the field now, including L-A-B. Jeffster is correct that A2LA is not obligated at this point to accept L-A-B cals, as L-A-B is not in a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA).

As to which gives more bang for the buck or is easier to work with, I recommend you talk to all.....IAS, NVLAP, A2LA, L-A-B, ACLASS......ask each hard questions and request a quote that details estimated costs, rather than only looking at a fee schedule.

Hershal
 
K

Ken K

#5
Jeff, you are correct. Our auditor, who works for both A2LA and LAB, discussed some of the political differences between the two off the record.

Two labs within our company are accredited by LAB and one by A2LA. We cannot do any ILC/PT with the A2LA lab because they will not recognize us as being accredited.

Personally, I am satisfied with LAB. They have been undergoing some growing pains recently, but nothing too serious. Shop around. It's your money and like Dave said, you do need to put your own bang in your buck.

Good luck.
 
T

tomvehoski

#6
I have worked with A2LA, LAB and ACLASS with clients. This experience covers registrations from 2000 to 2003, so it may not all be current.

I found A2LA the most expensive and difficult to deal with. True, they do probably have the best name recognition, but you will pay for it. I was also left with the feeling that you work for them. For example, one client asked them to quote, then asked them to send in a representative for a presentation. We were told "A2LA does not do presentations. Send us your deposit check and we will set up a pre-assessment."

The same client also quoted L-A-B. They sent a VP in on two days notice to discuss the process, costs, etc. They were also much cheaper. An additional consideration is that LAB also partners with ISO registrars, so you may be able to save a few $$$ with a combined quote if you are also 9000, 16949, etc. It is also possible to do a combined audit, although it is difficult to find an auditor qualified in both 17025 and 9000 at times.

ACLASS is my most recent experience. They were also very willing to work with the client and cheaper than A2LA. They are new and don't have all that many registrations, but I would still recommend them. Let me know if you need any contact information - I talked to one of their VPs about a month ago.

As for the audits and auditors, I would say all were about the same. Good, fair auditors but strict on enforcing the standard and making you prove any exclusions.

It is important that you verify that your customers will accept LAB, ACLASS or other bodies certifications. The place I am with now is forced to use A2LA because we also carry a special electromagnetic compatability lab certification (GM standard) for which only A2LA is approved at the moment.

Hope this helps,

Tom
 

Hershal

Metrologist-Auditor
Staff member
Super Moderator
#7
D.Scott said:
NAVLAP is just as well respected by those who take the time to look into it
NVLAP is the Cadillac AB in the U.S., and unfortunately the most expensive. However, they are the best. If you survive the assessment, you join an elite group.

The rest of us are lower cost, and each of us have our strong points, and weak points.

Questions I might suggest you ask each (IAS, A2LA, L-A-B, ACLASS) include:

1. Actual cost to be estimated in a quote, that includes assessor days based on scope, travel expenses, etc.

2. The AB's schedule, that is, how quickly can the AB serve you, assuming no big issues?

3. What staff person will personally handle your file, start to finish?

4. What are the policies on training, PT/ILC, measurement uncertainty, traceability?

These questions will get a very rough picture of the AB and the service one can expect.

Then ask existing clients of the AB. Download scopes and contact information from each, just a sample will do, then call and ask each how the service has been to them.

Then you get a more complete picture of how to select your AB. :)

Hershal
 

Hershal

Metrologist-Auditor
Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Thought I would throw one more into the mix, which is equally accepted by IAS, NVLAP, and A2LA.......

That is SCC/CLAS, our friends from Canada.
 
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