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Digitalisation of Conformance & Accreditation Processes

A collaboration between NATA, JAS-ANZ and GS1 Australia has produced a ground-breaking new report for industry and government. The report has given rigorous attention to the question of the digital future of conformity assessment.

The benefits of digitisation and interoperability between systems

The use of digitisation and interoperability between systems has proven to deliver elevated levels of supply chain efficiency. In Australia, however, there is an absence of digital standards for identifying, capturing, and sharing product compliance and credentials as they move throughout the supply chain. The report proposes a process to simplify the way product testing and certification is managed, using digital authentication and tracking of certificates to improve national productivity and Australia’s international competitiveness.

The key benefits:

  • Data interoperability – The capacity to identify sets of information in a manner which is a) globally unique and b) globally recognisable, means that information can be deployed across different geographical areas and across different supply chains without causing confusion.
  • Smart data locking – Digitalised data can be stored in discrete components, so different read-access rules can be set by the data owner. This is important in cases where there may be trust issues or commercial sensitivities, as it permits verified data to still be exchanged while restricting visibility of certain elements within the original data set.
  • Guaranteed data integrity – Standardised electronic processes for uniquely identifying conformity assessment documents and making these accessible to all authorised supply chain participants, means that there is a ‘single point of truth’. In this secure framework, the possibility for fraudulently issued/altered documentation is eliminated.
  • Credentialing of conformity data providers – Electronically tracking approvals issued by national Accreditation Bodies within digitised data flows means that the authority of recognised conformity assessment bodies is automatically verified within supply chain data.
  • Distributed trust, universal access – Modern data systems using resolver protocols enable coordinated access to data without any need for centralised storage of information. This means the critical role played by globally trusted authorities can be built into global data flows without the need for any centralised physical data storage.
  • Digital linking conformity data to shipments – Globally unique identification enables transparent linking of data to individual product shipments. These electronic linkages in turn provide sellers, purchasers, importers, exporters and regulators with the capability to transparently validate product conformity.
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Cofrac: Artificial intelligence and asbestos detection

Recently, Cofrac* developed a new accreditation scheme for a unique test method based on artificial intelligence to detect asbestos fibers in the air.

The French company ITGA** is specialising in sample and test activities as part of the search for asbestos and other chemical agents. It has been accredited to the NF EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard since 1996 for asbestos. Gradually, in order to follow new regulations and best support its customers, ITGA applied for their accreditation to be extended to capture activities: industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, legionella and lead.

ITGA is also active in research and development. Within this scope, it developed a new test method delegating the detection of asbestos fibers to artificial intelligence: a service incorporated within the framework of air monitoring, in relation to the Public Health and Labor Codes.

To promote this large-scale project, the laboratory wished to accredit this new method, unique to the field. When it judged that the method was mature enough, ITGA asked Cofrac for an extension of accreditation in order to highlight its competence and expertise in asbestos search, and thus reassure its customers about the reliability of its services.

ITGA’s previous requests for extensions of accreditation were based on existing methods. So, for this first specific development of accreditation, Cofrac supported the laboratory. ITGA followed the different stages of the process, until its notification of accreditation in November 2021.

Artificial intelligence for asbestos detection is an innovation that opens the way to other perspectives that Cofrac stands ready to support!

* The French accreditation committee (Cofrac).
** Accreditation 1-5970, detailed list available on www.cofrac.fr

 

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HKAS introduces new accreditation service for underground utility survey

Like many urban cities around the world, the underground environment of Hong Kong houses complicated and extensive arrays of utility networks. These networks cover sewers, water mains, electricity, gas and telecommunications, etc. To maintain their proper function, it is crucial to conduct regular and effective underground utility (UU) surveys. It is also important to get a precise blueprint of the utility network under a construction site before commencing any underground works.

To improve the quality of underground utility surveys and facilitate planning of underground works, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has recently developed a series of local test standards that can be utilised for these surveys. The test standards consist of six non-destructive testing methods for surveying, imaging and diagnosis (NDTSID) including (1) electromagnetic pipe cable locating, (2) ground penetrating radar, (3) Laser scanning survey, (4) visual inspection, (5) leak detection by acoustic methods, and (6) flow survey & monitoring for drains/sewers. Conformity assessment bodies may apply these test methods in conducting underground utility survey. To help ensure the quality of these surveys, Hong Kong Accreditation Service (HKAS) has also launched a new accreditation service for NDTSID in November last year. This new programme is based on ISO/IEC 17025 and the supplementary criteria document established by the HKAS Task Force on UU Survey, which is a special expert committee set up under the Accreditation Advisory Board’s Working Party of Construction Material Testing. The supplementary criteria document lays down accreditation requirements specific for NDTSID.

Local government departments, such as those responsible for water supplies and drainage services, are keen on applying NDTSID in their construction projects. They will likely require contractors carrying out these surveys to obtain relevant accreditation. A high demand for such accreditation service is thus anticipated. HKAS has already received some applications for these tests and is actively processing them.

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NATA Updates

NATA’s 75th Anniversary

Over the 75 years since NATA was founded, Australia has seen unprecedented change and emerging from the shadow of empire, it has become a vibrant, modern, wealthy and independent nation.

Set against a backdrop of a nation in transformation, NATA has played a vital role in assisting Australian industries to evolve and improve, supporting industry and government to grow and modernise our economy, providing confidence in day-to-day products and services for the Australian community and helping underpin trade in competitive global markets.

In our anniversary film, we have endeavoured to present NATA in a way not seen before by using authentic documentary storytelling. As part of this process, we uncovered a deep passion & genuine care for the work they do.

It is these people and all those that have been associated with NATA over 75 years that have created the invisible thread now firmly woven into the fabric of Australian society.

We are NATA and this is our story.


NATALEE

NATA is proud to introduce a new video series designed to bring greater awareness to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work NATA has been undertaking in Australia over the last 75-years. NATALEE is a 6-episode series that uses gentle humour to showcase the many areas NATA has an impact on in everyday Australian life.

To date 4 episodes have been released as follows:

Video 1 – How I discovered the work NATA does

Video 2 – Hello My Name is NATALEE

Video 3 – Sleepwalking and Talking NATA

Video 4 – Food for Thought

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Accreditation supports organic production in Guatemala

Through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, the Republic of Guatemala regulates the correct application of organic agriculture legislation, controls the certification bodies for certified organic operators and registers them, and provides third-party recognition that the Guatemalan organic exportable officer has met the required quality standards for each country and territory the products are marketed to. The main export markets for Guatemalan products are: the United States, Europe, and Japan, among others.

Mandatory compliance to a conformity assessment scheme, confirmed through accredited conformity assessment, ensures the traceability and differentiated value of the product and provides confidence for consumers, in the sense that the production system complies with the international requirements for organic classification.

In Guatemala, organic agriculture is an important industry, because it represents a more favourable price for the national producer, promotes connections among those involved and provides healthy food for people to consume. It is friendly to the environment by promoting conservation, appropriate use of natural resources and protection of biodiversity, helping to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

Currently there are 164 organic operators that include associations, federations, cooperatives and individual producers. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the growth is maintained at an average of 7% per year in production volume, already exceeding 200,000 hectares of arable land. Initially only coffee was offered as an organic product, however, market demand has diversified the Guatemalan organic exportable offer to the following products: cardamom, cacao, macadamia nuts, honey, lettuce, green beans, black tea, papaya, and broccoli, among others.

The mode of cultivation promotes connections between small producers, links more than 60,000 farmers,  and generates approximately 20,000 permanent jobs and more than 80,000 temporary or indirect jobs. The most important markets for the exports are the United States with 80%, the European Union with 15%, and Japan, Canada and Arab countries with 5%.

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ANAB: Surviving the Pandemic in the Training Industry

Similar to many businesses around the world, the ANAB Training Institute faced unprecedented challenges during early 2020.  It seemed like overnight everything stopped and continuing with “normal” training operations was no longer possible. In a matter of days, we went from reaching maximum registrations to having only self-paced training gain any interest. We knew in order to be able to continue offering our training, we had to act and act quickly. 

Our team, at that time, had been together for less than a year and were still getting to know one another, fleshing out our roles, responsibilities, and capabilities when everything was turned upside down. Now, we were faced with the challenge of needing to change the mode of instruction and delivery of training for the vast majority of our in-person training course catalog.   

We knew one thing – Live Online – was the only way we could continue operating in this new world of quarantine, but how?  What system would be best suited for live, instructor-led online instruction? And how would we deliver training in such a way as to maintain ANAB’s long-standing high-quality reputation as a high-quality provider of accreditation related standards and technical training? The internal auditor, and lead and technical assessor courses, which are our most popular, were traditionally done face to face, as these types of courses have a great deal of interaction among the participants and the instructor. We found ourselves asking, is the ‘one approach fits all’ the best way to go or should we take each course and decide how to structure it? How would we overcome the disconnect between trainer and trainee when such interactions are so vital to learning success? What about distractions and overall screen fatigue? And most importantly, how would we keep the participants captivated and involved, and monitor their progress without the typical visual clues one sees in the classroom? We had to answer all these questions in a very short period of time. We were spending days educating ourselves on online systems (e.g., Zoom, WebEx, Go-To-Meeting) and figuring out what would work best for us. All the while, in quarantine and without the ability to be in the same room together, talk about screen fatigue!

We were not successful from day one, our first month of completely online offerings sold very few seats. In addition, we had few instructors with online teaching experience. About two months into the launch of our online training, we finally started to see improved results; we were getting participants and our courses were starting to fill. After our first private training request for an instructor-led online course and with the conversion of all our courses to online delivery, we were confident that this would actually work. Fast forward a year, our operations are back to normal; well, back to the “new” normal. We learned many tricks along the way and are still learning, every session brings something new and continual improvement is constant.

Our current instructor-led online courses are more interactive now than they ever were. We were able to incorporate every in-class exercise to an online exercise and utilize online tools to maximize participant interactivity. In addition, 100% of our in-person course offerings have been transferred to instructor-led live online training. Yes, we even learned that the Internal Auditor, and Lead and Technical Assessor courses can be successfully and effectively delivered live online, using small group exercises, an e-version of flip charts for discussions and debriefs and most importantly various instructor tools and tricks to keep participants engaged. Even our biggest instructor skeptics now happily instruct in this new virtual environment. We may not even be able to convince them to go back on the road! Well, that’s another bridge we can cross when we get there.

We knew then, and are even more convinced now, that this COVID pandemic has changed the way we do business forever. The world is more connected through electronic means now than ever before and it is not necessarily a bad thing. This reality opened-up a tremendous number of opportunities for businesses and individuals. The ANAB Training Institute will never be the same, and we do not want it to be. We are now reaching more participants across the globe than we ever did just short of 2 years ago. We can deliver private and open registration courses to people globally without the expense of travel. The diversity that we are seeing in our open registration courses enriches the experience for all participants. The discussions and exchange of experiences is something we would never have been able to achieve in pre-COVID era.

We hope one day we will be able to go back to face to face training, but for now, our customers are telling us it is not the time. People are not ready, and we are ok with that. Our early 2022 schedule is still fully live online, and although we are open to face-to-face private training, over 90% of our customers request for the instructor-led live online delivery. 

Remote everything will pick up momentum and will not go away, whatever the future brings we have it covered. 

ANAB Training Institute – We are open for business in this new virtual world.

ANAB Training Institute Team

From top left Amy Levasseur, Emma Dutton, Melanie Ross and Natalia Larrimer. Missing from the photo Roger Muse.

 

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BLQS-DMSc: a unified accreditation reform in Thailand

There are four accreditation bodies (ABs) operating in Thailand however, only the National Standardization Council (NSC) – Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) – Ministry of Industry is a full member signatory to both the ILAC MRA and IAF MLA. The Bureau of Laboratory Quality Standards (BLQS-DMSc) – Department of Medical Sciences – Ministry of Public Health, and the Bureau of Laboratory Accreditation (BLA-DSS) – Department of Science Service – Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation hold full membership and signatory status to only the ILAC MRA while the Office of Standard Accreditation (OSA) – National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) – Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives holds full membership and signatory status to only the IAF MLA. All of these ABs are Government Agencies working as the agency-in-charge for standardization in a specific field of accreditation (such as testing and calibration laboratories, medical laboratories, reference material producers (RMPs), and product certification programs). Their specific scope of activity relates to the National Standardization Act B.E. 2551 (2008) of the national standard committee under the Cabinet approval.

The implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the benefits of the multilateral MRA for greater efficiency, cost savings on the ease of doing business policy, and the ongoing global pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) provide  significant opportunity for the Thai Public Policy Government to improve its own performance. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a single platform for accreditation was signed between the four ABs to strengthen the cooperation on 15th December 2020. This partnership aims to reduce the redundancy and unnecessity of multiple onsite assessments and accreditations from different ABs with specific areas of accreditation activities  for  customers.

Presently, the unified accreditation reform has commenced with testing laboratory accreditation by using joint assessments between ABs under the ‘single scheme’ of the same standard (i.e. ISO/IEC 17025) and under the ‘multiple schemes’ of different standards (i.e. ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO 15189). Currently a laboratory can apply with only one AB for any scope of testing where that AB has the MRA recognition. For example, currently, a laboratory has to apply for ISO/IEC 17025 testing scope of accreditation with NSC for industrial chemicals; with BLQS-DMSc for pharmaceuticals; and with BLA-DSS for waste water. From now on, the laboratory will be able to apply to just one AB as a single point of contact (“one stop service”), for the entire scope of testing activities, and still be verified compliant with the standard. The platform however, is currently only voluntary, so a customer may maintain accreditation with each individual AB as per usual should they wish.

The next step,  is to set up ongoing monitoring and reporting systems that interface with this platform. We look forward to working with the simplified and harmonized processes and procedures of each AB to expand the unified accreditation model., In the future we plan to establish the “one application – one platform – one certificate” for testing laboratory accreditation, and also expand this platform to other MRA/MLA scopes such as reference material producers (RMP), proficiency testing providers (PTP), management system (MS) as well as extending the scope of the recognition to the MRA/MLAs to cover other conformity assessment body activities in Thailand (e.g. biobanking facilities specifying accreditation complying with ISO 20387 and medical device accreditation complying with ISO 13485).

We held a public hearing addressing these proposed changes on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 via the zoom cloud meeting application to communicate and promote the changes to our customers, and also to receive input and feedback. Approximately 650 participants shared their thoughts with discussion and opinions regarding this joint initiative. This input will allow us to pursue a better modifying process. Participants at the public hearing approved of the initiative and few of the customers have already decided to apply using this platform on their next cycle of assessment supporting sustainability in accreditation. Finally, this joint supporting service was approved to start in October 2021 and is expected to be a  great success with acceptance from customers. It will also help to stimulate competitiveness in the economy, and keep up with global changes especially in this time of COVID-19 restrictions.

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BSCA: Belarusian Industrial and Innovation Forum 2021

On 28-30 September Minsk, Belarus, hosted The Belarusian Industrial and Innovation Forum 2021 – one of the largest international events in the field of industry, high technology, innovation and scientific and technical development. The purpose of the exhibition is to promote innovative industrial equipment, products and technologies of domestic and foreign companies to regional and international markets and to strengthen business contacts and share best practices.

Within this Forum on September 29, 2021 the Belarusian State Centre for Accreditation held a breakout session covering topical issues of accreditation.

The benefits of international recognition of accreditation for governors, industry, consumers was discussed as well as the value of the ILAC MRA and IAF MLA marks on conformity assessment documents for business and industry. BSCA also took the opportunity to draw more attention to the global data base IAF CertSearch as an international online platform to provide the validation of accredited certification worldwide.

 

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A new event format for Cofrac accredited inspection bodies

Cofrac* is used to organising events for its customers of its different divisions. Usually offered face-to-face, theses meetings have been reinvented due to the pandemic.

Following two “Accreditation and Inspection meetings” organised in 2016 and 2018, Cofrac offered a completely redesigned event in June 2021, to accredited bodies and those interested in accreditation for inspection activities.

With a studio worthy of a television production and several projectors and cameras pointed at concentrated speakers, flawless animation, discussions, presentations and videos broadcast and available for streaming; the organisation of this event was undoubtedly a great first and success for Cofrac!

Called “Accreditation in the inspection field: let’s talk about it!”, this event took place remotely, filmed and broadcast live from Paris. Only the members of the Inspection division were present on D-day in the studio to encourage their colleagues in this unprecedented exercise.

On the program for this half-day: updates and projects from the division, a presentation of the most frequent findings observed during the assessments as well as a point on the associated requirements, and a focus on the document GEN REF 11 – General rules for reference to accreditation and to international recognition arrangements – which gave some clarification on how to use the reference to accreditation.

The event was punctuated by live surveys, to collect participants’ reactions, and video interludes, one on the Cofrac digitisation project, and a second one explaining the different types of independence in the inspection field.

The organisation of this remote meeting met the expectations of the 142 people who participated via the streaming platform. Indeed, out of the 77 who answered the satisfaction questionnaire, 99% said they were satisfied and very satisfied. When asked “Did you like the TV set format?“, the answer was unanimous: 99% yes! Further proof of the success of this event is that 73% of respondents said they would prefer this remote format for a future event!

 

 

* The French accreditation committee (Cofrac).

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News from Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC)

EIAC launched a number of new accreditation schemes:

Crime scene investigations

The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) has launched its ISO/IEC 17020:2012 accreditation scheme for inspection of crime scenes. This is a first of its kind in the region. EIAC is already running ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation schemes for forensic and digital forensic testing laboratories. This new accreditation scheme will enhance the confidence in the reliability and accuracy of data produced during criminal investigations.

Medical sample collection centers and laboratories

This scheme is based on ISO/TS 20658: Medical laboratories- Requirements for collection, transport, receipt, and handling of samples and covers the essential and very important aspect of medical testing. Ensuring the integrity of the samples is crucial reliable testing. 

Inspection for clean room and biosafety cabinet

This scheme is based on ISO/IEC 17020:2012 and provides reliable tools to ensure the better environmental monitoring.

EIAC accredited first day care surgery center   

EIAC has accredited the first Day Care Surgery Centre in the region. The scheme is based on the requirements of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua). This scheme was developed to address the growing need for quality management in the healthcare sector.

EIAC signed MoU with Dubai Health Authority

EIAC has revived its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Health Authority (DHA). A delegation from DHA visited the offices of EIAC and the progress on the MoU was reviewed and it was resigned. The DHA is an important stakeholder for EIAC in its accreditation services. DHA has recognized EIAC as one of the accreditation service providers for healthcare sector. The EIAC extended its services to cope with the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and accredited conformity assessment bodies for COVID-19 testing and personal protection equipment testing. The EIAC has accredited 168 medical laboratories and one day care surgery center.

EIAC CEO with visiting DHA delegation

EIAC participating in regional and international events

As a major accreditation body in the region, EIAC actively participates in regional and international activities.

Ms. Amina Ahmed Mohammed, Chief Executive Officer of EIAC, attended the 8th International Halal Food Conference on 1st September 2021. She presented on the “Role of EIAC Accredited Halal Conformity Assessment Bodies in Developing Halal Trade”. Mr. Mohammad Abdelmotagaly, Advisor of EIAC, gave a presentation on the “Approach Towards Harmonizing Halal Standards”.

Ms. Amina Ahmed Mohammed also attended the symposium of Saudi Accreditation Council. The symposium celebrated World Accreditation Day. Ms. Amina spoke on the role of Arab Accreditation Cooperation in the region for supporting the accreditation bodies.

EIAC CEO addressing the International Halal Food Conference

 

EIAC’s accreditations helping business entities and decision makers

The United Arab Emirates has a strong quality culture. The EIAC is playing a vital role in maintaining the highest levels of quality in various fields. Business entities, and public and private decision makers are widely accepting the accreditation granted by EIAC.

An EIAC accredited inspection body was contracted to inspect all stages of the world’s tallest Ferris wheel known as “Ain Dubai”. It is 250 meters (820 ft) tall and is due to open on 21st October 2021. The EIAC accredited inspection body has certified the whole journey of the Ferris wheel from reviewing the design, to inspecting the manufacturing process and the functionality, and verifying the safety of the wheel post installation.

EIAC Director of Certification Bodies Accreditation Department and the Advisor of EIAC visited Dubai airport and immigration authorities and discussed persons certifications for various fields related to airport and immigration operations.

EIAC representative’s briefing to Dubai airport authorities

 

EIAC’s peer evaluation by ARAC  

The periodic peer evaluation of EIAC was conducted on 23-27 May 2021. The scope included ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 15189 and ISO/IEC 17020 for testing, calibration, medical laboratories and inspection bodies, and the evaluation was conducted remotely. 

EIAC’s remote peer evaluation

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