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EIAC’s peer evaluation for existing and new scope
The peer evaluation of Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) was conducted on 20-24 November 2023. The peer evaluation was jointly conducted by the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) and Arab Accreditation Cooperation (ARAC). The eight-member peer evaluation team was comprised of peer evaluators from accreditation bodies of Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Tunisia, and USA.

The peer evaluation covered the existing scope ISO/IEC 17021-1 (for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 22000 & ISO 27001), ISO/IEC 17065 and ISO/IEC 17024 and new scope of ISO/IEC 17043 Conformity Assessment-General requirements for the competence of proficiency testing providers.

EIAC participated in Arab Health Exhibition & Congress 2024
The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) participated in Arab Health Exhibition and Congress held on 29 January to 1st February 2024. Arab Health is largest exhibition and forum of medical field in the region. A large number of exhibitors of medical products including devices, pharmaceuticals, healthcare service providers and medical professionals attended the exhibition and discussion forums. The EIAC had a dedicated booth in the exhibitions. Large number of medical professionals from healthcare sector including medical laboratories visited the EIAC booth.

EIAC’s new scheme for persons certification bodies
The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) has launched a new scheme for ISO/IEC 17024 persons’ certification bodies. The certification scheme is developed by the regulatory body, Health & Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. The aim of the scheme is to enhance the health and safety conditions at laborers’ accommodations. As per the scheme requirements, the accredited persons’ certification bodies will be responsible to provide certifications to competent “health & Safety Officers” for laborers’ accommodations. The laborers and other people living in those accommodations will be the beneficiary of the scheme.

EIAC attended ARAC’s annual meetings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The 11th annual meetings and general assembly of Arab Accreditation Cooperation (ARAC) were held from 5th to 14th December 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The meetings were hosted by the Saudi Accreditation Center (SAAC). EIAC delegation, headed by Ms. Amina Ahmed Ahmad, CEO attended the annual meetings.

EIAC conducted trainings for conformity assessment bodies
The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) has conducted various training sessions over the past few months.

ISO 15189 training was conducted for medical laboratories and assessors and experts. Dr. Venkatesh Thuppil was the resource person. The training was conducted on 26-29 February 2024.

ISO/IEC 17024 training was conducted for persons certification bodies. The training also covered the conformity assessment requirements. The training was attended by delegates from various public and private entities including Dubai Police. Engr. Muhammad Shahid Rasool was the resource person for the training. The training was conducted on 21-22 February 2024.
Trainings of transition to new version of ISO 15189, Biobank and Halal standards were also conducted. Dr. Venkatesh Thuppil, Mr. Mohammed Abdel Motagaly and Mr. Erik Reisdorf were resource persons.

EIAC jointly hosts APAC annual meetings
The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) along with Emirates National Accreditation System (ENAC) and GCC Accreditation Center (GAC) will jointly host the annual meetings of Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) in Dubai, UAE on 13-18 July 2024. This is the first time that annual meetings and general assembly of APAC being held in the UAE and middle east region.

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MAURITAS holds Training Course on ISO 15189:2022

In the ever-evolving realm of healthcare, adherence to internationally recognized standards is of utmost importance to ensure quality, reliability, and credibility of laboratory services. The ISO 15189 standard, updated in December 2022, serves as a cornerstone for quality management and technical competence in medical laboratories.

The Mauritius Accreditation Service (MAURITAS) has, as of now, accredited 7 medical laboratories in accordance with ISO 15189:2012, “Medical Laboratories – Requirements for quality and competence’’, for a total of 148 parameters in the medical subfields of immunology, biochemistry, haematology and microbiology. Recognizing the importance of staying abreast of the updates to the standard, MAURITAS organised a training course from 05 to 08 February 2024, for its staff, assessors and other stakeholders.

Dr Sambhu Chakraborty and the 21 participants

 

Participants during the training course

Mr Chankar Bheekhun (L), Accreditation Manager of MAURITAS
presenting a souvenir gift to Dr Sambhu Chakraborty (R)

 

The training course was facilitated by Dr. Sambhu Chakraborty from the Institute of Applied Quality Management & IAQM Consultants Pvt Ltd, India. With his expertise, Dr. Chakraborty guided the 21 participants through an intensive curriculum that covered various aspects of the ISO 15189:2022 standard and its practical implications. Participants had the opportunity to network with industry peers, forge valuable connections, and build a community committed to upholding standards of excellence in laboratory practice.

This training course has equipped professionals with the knowledge and skills to navigate the revised standard, and drive continuous improvement within the medical laboratory sector.

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ODAC and CODIA sign a collaboration agreement


Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
March 21st, 2024

The Dominican Accreditation Body (ODAC) and the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects, and Surveyors (CODIA) signed a collaboration agreement that will enable the management of projects to benefit the construction sector.

The agreement was signed by the director of ODAC, Ángel David Taveras Difo, and the president of CODIA, Juan Villar González, with the aim of contributing to the institutional strengthening of both entities.

Ángel David Taveras Difo valued the signing of the agreement, which will be a great contribution to strengthening the quality infrastructure and confidence, in the acquisition of products and services.

“The signing of this agreement reaffirms our commitment to quality and the generation of trust in the country’s construction sector, whose activities directly impact the growth of commerce, tourism, and consequently, the Dominican economy, and of course, the safety of the Dominicans,” said the official.

The agreement establishes that CODIA will prepare a regulatory resolution that establishes a proposal for the ODAC accreditation process for conformity assessment bodies.

In addition, it contemplates the joint development of training programs that facilitate the training of technical or managerial personnel of both entities, taking care of compliance with the impartiality requirements by international standards and criteria.

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JAS-AU Expanding Accreditation Services for the Accreditation of PTP

Jordanian Accreditation System – Accreditation Unit (JAS-AU) is proud to announce that it has expanded its services to include accreditation of Proficiency Testing Providers (PTP) according to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17043 standard.

JAS-AU has been working diligently to expand its services in the field of accreditation of PTP since 2022. This is due to the importance of proficiency testing results and their use as a tool to demonstrate conformity assessment bodies’ (CABs) competence, in order to improve the national quality infrastructure. It also recognises the increasing demand of local PTPs to overcome the obstacles that CABs (laboratories specifically) face when participating with providers abroad. For example, shipping costs have recently increased, and increasing accreditation areas which it is difficult to cover by PTP, and the restrictions by the customs agency in all around countries.


Technical support for this project was provided by UNIDO, and an accreditation expert was involved in the project. Several activities took place according to a predefined plan as follows:

  • Hosting a training course from 2 – 5 January 2023 that covered ISO/IEC 17043:2010 requirements (Technical & Management requirements) and the new revision of ISO/IEC 17043, Assessment techniques, and reporting. The course was attended by JAS-AU assessors and staff including personnel responsible for evaluating the outcome of assessments and of decision-making,
  • Reviewing JAS-AU management system and preparing a gap analysis against the assessment criteria for the accreditation of PTP, and then making the necessary changes to the management system,
  • Training on the new changes and on the preparation for mock assessment on 15 October 2023, and
  • Two onsite assessments performed by JAS-AU assessment teams under observation of the expert from 16 – 19 October 2023. The assessments were performed on two PT providers who expressed their willingness to have a mock assessment within the project activities.

 


The desired goal of the visits, which was to evaluate the competence of JAS-AU and its assessment teams was achieved, as the technical expert expressed his satisfaction and praised the competence of the assessment team members, the extent of their commitment, and their ability to assess the requirements.

Consequently, JAS-AU has officially launched a new service to accredit PTP according to ISO/IEC 17043 and ILAC policies.

JAS-AU will continue to build on this achievement and prepare to apply for extending its signatory status of the Arab Accreditation Cooperation MLA (ARAC MLA) to cover the scope of accreditation of Proficiency Testing Providers. This will ultimately lead to the extension of its ILAC MRA signatory status.

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QAI CIA News

The QAI Centre for international Accreditation (QAI CIA), a fairly young organisation, started its accreditation activities for Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) in 2017 with the following accreditation programmes:

2017
• Accreditation of Medical Testing Laboratories as per ISO 15189

2018
• Accreditation of Testing laboratories as per ISO/ IEC 17025

2021
• Biobanking Accreditation as per ISO 20387 (For the First time in India)

2022
• Accreditation of Calibration laboratories as per ISO/ IEC 17025

2023
• Accreditation of Proficiency Testing Providers as per ISO 17043
• Accreditation of Reference Material Producers as per ISO 17034
• Accreditation of Inspection Bodies as per ISO 17020

We are happy to announce that QAI CIA achieved international recognition by joining the APAC MRA for Testing (ISO/IEC 17025) and Medical Testing (ISO 15189) on 31 October 2022 and the ILAC MRA for Testing (ISO/IEC 17025) and Medical Testing (ISO 15189) on 10 December 2022. This makes us the second AB in India to achieve membership of the ILAC MRA. We intend to add more accreditation programmes to the ILAC MRA as we progress.

This recognition has helped us in expanding and promoting our business, and accepting a greater number of applications for accreditation.

We are also pleased to announce that QAI CIA is now present in Asia, Africa and the Middle, East as an accreditation partner. We are motivated to excel in supporting countries that may not have their own Accreditation Body and / or a specific accreditation programme.

We are committed to hold to our Vision and Values by providing a credible accreditation mechanism. We are certainly would like to contribute towards our national government’s agenda of Viksit Bharat (Developed Bharat) in the conformity assessment ecosystem and do our bit to take Bharat (India) to the 1st World Ranking in Quality and Accreditation Infrastructure.

Further, we are open for bilateral collaboration to learn, share and support these shared goals with organisations in different countries.

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The Role of Accreditation in Elevating the Quality of City Gas Distribution in India and Beyond

Introduction
Natural gas is widely recognized as an eco-friendly and clean energy source, offering significant potential to address environmental concerns while meeting the increasing demand for energy sustainably. The Government of India has placed emphasis on encouraging the adoption of natural gas as both a fuel and feedstock nationwide, aiming to elevate its proportion in the primary energy mix from its current level to 15% by 2030. At present, about 23,500 Km long gas pipeline network is under operation in the country and around 12,000 KM pipeline is approved/under construction. The GoI plans to complete the vision of One Nation One Gas Grid by 2030.

Understanding Accreditation
Accreditation is the process by which an authoritative body evaluates and certifies the competence, integrity, and performance of organizations, laboratories, and individuals. First and foremost, accreditation fosters confidence among stakeholders, and also acts as a catalyst for continuous improvement. By adhering to internationally recognized standards and best practices, stakeholders are compelled to enhance their processes, technologies, and workforce competence. This not only leads to higher efficiency but also promotes innovation and sustainability in the sector.

India is among the top nations working towards enhancing the quality infrastructure within the country & beyond. India’s national accreditation system under the Quality Council of India (QCI) ranked 5th in the world in the recent Global Quality Infrastructure Index (GQII) 2021. The GQII ranks the 184 economies in the world on the basis of the quality infrastructure (QI).

The responsibility of the accreditation procedure in India rests on the shoulders of National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) which is a constituent board under the Quality Council of India. It is mandated to provide accreditation to Conformity Assessment Bodies (Certification, Inspection & Validation/Verification Bodies) as per international standards, generally ISO standards for various Conformity Assessment Schemes / Standards.
CGD System across the Globe: A Comparative Study
CGD System in USA:- Approximately two-thirds of crude oil and refined products in the United States are transported through pipelines, while almost all natural gas is conveyed via the same means. Various everyday essentials such as stoves, automobiles, ovens, planes, and dryers rely on products derived from oil and natural gas. ASME B31.8-2022: Gas Transmission And Distribution Piping Systems outlines specifications aimed at ensuring the secure transportation of gas within pipeline infrastructures.
ASME B31.8-2022 addresses the entire process from design and fabrication to installation, inspection, examination, and testing of pipeline facilities utilized in gas transportation. It encompasses engineering prerequisites essential for the secure design and construction of pressure piping. Furthermore, the standard delineates safety considerations regarding the operation and maintenance of such pipeline facilities, aiming to safeguard both the general public and workers.

CGD System in the European Union:- National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC) is the regulatory body for Gas distribution in the EU. Over the past few years, Ukraine has made a number of important changes in the regulation of the gas market. One of the main achievements was the adoption in 2015 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Natural Gas Market”. The new law enshrined in the EU’s economically sound approaches to the organization of the natural gas market, separate’s the functions of the operator from the functions of gas production and supply, clearly outline the functions of the state and the independence of the regulator, and establishes the principle of regulating natural monopolies and free pricing in competitive gas market segments.

Role of Inspection Bodies in ensuring Accreditation
The Inspection body accreditation is a formal means of demonstrating the technical competence to perform specific types of inspections, thereby providing a ready means for the customers to gain confidence in the quality of inspection services they will receive. Inspection aims at demonstrating the safety and functionality of the inspected target. Typical examples of inspected targets include boilers, pressure vessels, transformers, oil and gas sectors, machinery and equipment, and food processes.

The article specifically focuses on the role of Inspection Bodies in ensuring quality & competency of bodies in supply technical cluster specifically to City Gas Distribution. The City Gas Distribution (CGD) is the last component of the Natural Gas value chain delivering Natural Gas to end users in the town and cities to meet in demand for a cleaner and more efficient, economical and environment friendly energy source.
One of the primary benefits of accreditation is its role in ensuring safety. Natural gas, while a clean and efficient fuel, can pose significant risks if not handled properly. Accredited CGD operators undergo stringent assessments of their safety protocols, infrastructure, and emergency response capabilities. This results in a safer operating environment for both employees and the public, reducing the likelihood of accidents and minimizing their impact if they occur.

The Inspection Bodies seeking accreditation for Inspection comply with the requirements as specified in the international standard ISO/IEC 17020:2012 “Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection” and other requirements. The National Accreditation Board for Certification Body (NABCB) provides accreditation to various conformity bodies in Scope sector 26 (Gas Supply as per IAF ID1:2014) that demonstrates sound capacity to conduct inspections based on three categories Type A, Type B, Type C. NABCB plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and quality of the CGD system via accrediting various inspection bodies such as Bureau Veritas, Tata Projects Ltd., SGS India, TÜV SÜD South Asia etc. in India. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) acts as a regulator that allows Technical Standards and Specifications including Safety Standards (T4S) audits according to Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006.

Challenges and Opportunities
While accreditation brings numerous benefits to the CGD sector, it also poses certain challenges. Maintaining accreditation requires ongoing investment in staff training, equipment, and quality management systems, which can be resource-intensive for smaller inspection bodies. Furthermore, keeping pace with evolving technologies, regulatory frameworks, and industry best practices necessitates continuous improvement and adaptation.
However, these challenges also present opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among stakeholders to drive excellence in CGD.

Way Forward
The accreditation of inspection bodies is crucial for elevating the quality, safety, and dependability of city gas distribution infrastructure and operations. Through adherence to globally acknowledged standards and optimal practices, accredited inspection bodies offer assurance to regulators such as PNGRB, investors, and the public that CGD networks are engineered, built, and managed to the utmost standards of excellence and safety. This endeavor not only aligns with India’s pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals 7, 11, and 13 but also reinforces the nation’s commitments to climate action as outlined in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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Pioneering Sustainable Tourism Management in Colombia: A Leap Towards Global Standards

Last February, the National Accreditation Body of Colombia (Organismo Nacional de Acreditación de Colombia – ONAC) embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to elevate the standards of sustainability in the tourism sector through the implementation of Colombian Technical Standards (Normas Técnicas Colombianas – NTC) in Tourism Sustainability Management Systems. This move not only signifies a strategic pivot from Sectoral Technical Standards (Normas Técnicas Sectoriales – NTS) but also underscores Colombia’s commitment to harmonizing with global benchmarks, thereby enhancing the quality and sustainability of its tourism industry.

The new sustainable tourism accreditation service was presented to the Colombian Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (ANATO), some tourism service providers, and other stakeholders. The event served as a meeting between different stakeholders in the tourism sector, among them the Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), one of the key stakeholders and the ones directly interested in acquiring sustainable tourism accreditation services.

Additionally, the event served to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation, particularly in the tourism sector. Accreditation has the potential to contribute to the internationalization of tourism services provided within the country and to make Colombian tourism service providers known to a global audience.

Tourism, a rapidly growing industry, holds the promise of economic prosperity, employment generation, and the promotion of cultural and environmental awareness. However, its unchecked expansion can lead to adverse impacts, including cultural dilution, environmental degradation, and the depletion of local resources. Recognizing these dual facets of tourism, the World Tourism Organization has defined sustainable tourism as a model that fully considers its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.

This model aligns seamlessly with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly targeting the promotion of sustainable tourism that fosters job creation and local culture and products. In this light, the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism (MinCIT), in collaboration with the Colombian Institute for Technical Standards (ICONTEC), has spearheaded the transition to NTC in tourism sustainability management, heralding a new era of standardized, high-quality, and sustainable tourism practices.

The transition from NTS to NTC reflects a profound evolution towards a more integrated and formalized framework of standardization within Colombia, setting a new benchmark for quality and sustainability in tourism at a national level. This evolution is a testament to Colombia’s deep-seated commitment to excellence and responsibility in its tourism sector. By aligning with NTC, service providers are not only adhering to national standards but are also positioning themselves competitively in the global market, enhancing their appeal to a more sustainability-conscious clientele.

The significance of this shift cannot be overstated, as it paves the way for a more resilient and competitive tourism industry that is in harmony with environmental conservation, cultural respect, and social responsibility. Moreover, the certification under NTC for sustainability in tourism acts as a catalyst for innovation, fostering economic resilience, attracting investment, and raising awareness about sustainable practices among both providers and tourists alike.

Despite the promising outlook, the heterogeneity of Tourism Service Providers (PSTs) and the financial burden of certification pose considerable challenges. The ONAC’s market study reveals a pressing need for collaborative efforts between government entities and accreditation body to facilitate certification for PSTs, overcoming financial and technical barriers. It suggests tailored incentives, tiered fee structures, and comprehensive support programs to democratize access to certification, ensuring that all segments of the tourism industry can embark on the journey towards sustainability.

This study was prepared by the Coordination of Socioeconomic Studies for Quality Infrastructure, a new area of ONAC in charge of conducting economic research and generating valuable information to support decision-making by ONAC, the CABs, the other actors of the quality infrastructure, as well as other stakeholders. The study can be consulted both in Spanish and English in the following website: https://onac.org.co/en/market-study-of-accreditation-services-in-colombian-technical-standards-for-tourism-sustainability-management-systems/onacs-blog/

There have been several studies conducted by the area, including market analysis studies for the opening of new accreditation services, review of sources that allow understanding the current state and opportunities for improvement of the quality infrastructure in Colombia, reviews of the impact of accreditation on aspects such as energy efficiency or international trade, among other documents. All these studies will be available for public consultation through ONAC’s website.

ONAC’s initiative to offer accreditation services in NTC for Tourism Sustainability Management Systems represents a significant leap towards aligning Colombia’s tourism sector with global sustainability standards. This endeavor not only enhances the competitiveness and attractiveness of Colombia as a sustainable tourism destination but also reaffirms the country’s commitment to responsible tourism practices that safeguard its cultural and natural heritage for future generations. The journey ahead is challenging, yet with strategic partnerships and sustained efforts, Colombia is poised to become a beacon of sustainable tourism on the global stage.

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Accredia Italy: Accreditation for potable water

Italy, like most countries, is facing increasingly grave environmental and climate crises, which can affect the availability of potable water. There are also issues with partly obsolete water infrastructure, which lead to leaks and dispersion. The availability and sustainable management of water and of health and hygiene structures, have become one of the 17 objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, and the European legislator intervened on the topic with the EU Directive 2020/2184. The EU Directive was implemented in Italy in March 2023, through Legislative Decree 18/2023 (the Decree).

The Decree was developed thanks to an extensive partnership between institutions, public and private stakeholders and Accredia, the Italian Accreditation Body. Federico Pecoraro, Deputy Director of Accredia’s Testing Laboratories Department, underlined the important role of tests carried out under accreditation: “In this area, accreditation continues to be a valid tool used by the authorities to establish the level of competence, impartiality and good organizational functioning of those who must ensure a high level of protection of public interests.”

Italian law and EU regulation
Water intended for human consumption can be processed or non-processed water used for drinking, preparing food and drinks or other uses, supplied through a distribution network or in tanks, bottles or containers. This also includes water used for food production and other substances for human consumption, but natural mineral waters are excluded. With the aim of ensuring healthy and clean water, Legislative Decree 18/2023 introduced important innovations for operators of potable water systems, for people involved in water treatment, and for citizens. Accreditation was already mandatory in line with the previous Decree of the Ministry of Health of 14 June 2017, but with the Legislative Decree of 2023 it has become central.

In this way, the role of accreditation for testing laboratories according to the standard ISO/IEC 17025 “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories” was strengthened in the areas involving accredited tests on water and the certification of materials in contact with water, as well as management systems of potable water companies and the inspection of distribution networks. Article 6 of the Decree – “General obligations for a risk-based approach to water safety” explains how this approach is aimed at covering “the entire potable water supply chain, including compliance with the specifications in article 5″, and to guarantee “the continuous exchange of information between the operators of potable water distribution systems and the competent authorities in health and environmental matters.”

Accreditation of tests conducted on water
Accreditation of tests on tap water guarantees its healthiness and increases the competences of those who have a key role in the protection, control and monitoring of water resources and their natural environments. Accredited tests guarantee the safety and effectiveness of periodic monitoring of water quality by water service operators, i.e. anyone who supplies water intended for human consumption to third parties.

Out of a total of 1,353 testing laboratories accredited by Accredia (as of 31 December 2023), approximately 60% also conduct tests on water for human consumption. The Decree defined a new list of parameter values to evaluate the quality of water, determined by means of tests carried out by laboratories accredited by Accredia according to ISO/IEC 17025.

Accreditation to certify chemical reagents
The Decree also introduced important innovations regarding the so-called ReMaf, i.e. the chemical reagents and active and passive filtering materials to be used in the processing of water for human consumption. By 12 January 2036 the ReMaf will have to be certified under accreditation and subsequently authorized by the National Center for Water Safety (CeNSiA) and registered in the AnTeA system, in order to be placed on the market.

From a technical point of view, ReMaF are certified by accredited bodies that perform periodic inspections of the production plants, taking samples to be analysed and, for the analyses necessary for certification, they rely on accredited testing laboratories.

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Accredited testing laboratories for the construction and civil works sector in Colombia.

By: Paola Aguirre V., Diana Jácome M., and Mauricio Rodríguez R. International Technical Direction. National Accreditation Body of Colombia – ONAC

Let’s start with a little history about accredited laboratories in Colombia.

When we talk about accredited laboratories, it is important to highlight the fact that the first accreditation granted by ONAC in laboratories scheme, was to a construction and civil works one. It was in 2009 (14 years ago), the same year ONAC started with the accreditation activity in the country.

Today, this is the sector with the highest number of accredited testing laboratories (52) that represents 19% of the total number of accredited testing laboratories. Thus, since 2019 a growth trend has been evidenced in this sector of laboratories, as identified in Graph 1, the highest growth rate was achieved in 2021, reaching 10 new accredited laboratories. Moreover, the first semester of 2023, accreditation has been granted to 3 new laboratories and there are another 5 in the process of accreditation, maintaining the growth trend that started since 2019.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that since 2014, the testing laboratories scheme has the international recognition signed with the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), which are multilateral agreements that allows around 100 economies worldwide to accept and recognize the results issued by testing laboratories accredited by ONAC.

 

Graph 1

Additionally, Graph 1 also shows the number of new laboratories accredited pr year (grants), the increase in the number of testing or the number of sites (expansion), laboratories that have had their accreditation withdrawn (withdrawals), and the net number of accredited laboratories in the sector. Thus, since the first accredited laboratory, the sector achieves an average growth rate of 3.3 new laboratories per year.

Regarding the withdrawals of accreditation, no clear trend is observed, these are considered isolated cases, with a maximum of 4 for 2022, 2 in the years 2015 and 2017, and values of 1 or 0, for the other years. On the other hand, in the last years there is also an increasing trend regarding the expansion of accreditation, taking into account that only until 2013 the first expansion of the scope was presented by one laboratory accredited in the construction sector, with values between 1 or 2 laboratories that expanded their accredited scope between 2013 and 2020.

In the last two years there was a substantial increase in applications, 8 laboratories in 2021, 9 laboratories in 2022 and 4 so far in 2023 have expanded their accredited scope, showing that not only in the last two years the number of accredited laboratories in the sector has increased, but that laboratories are seeking to expand the portfolio or capacity of their accredited services to meet market needs.

The fact that the number of accreditations for testing laboratories in this sector is predominant with respect to the other sectors of laboratories accredited by ONAC, demonstrates the importance and confidence that the user of these services, recognize in accreditation, which is a fundamental element to confirm the competence to guarantee the validity of the results that are issued, from which relevant decisions will be taken within the processes of planning and execution of the constructions and civil works.

Overview of accredited laboratories

When we talk about accredited laboratories, it is important to keep in mind which is the scope of each accreditation, i.e., which are the specific activities that each laboratory performs competently. These scopes are dynamic and depend on the services that each laboratory has demonstrated that can perform competently, including, in effect, the traceability of its measurements to the International System of Measurements (SI).

One of the aspects that are part of the accredited scope are the laboratory locations, from which three types of laboratories can be differentiated: permanent, on-site and mobile laboratories. The first ones, are those that perform the tests in the permanent location of the laboratory, which is clearly registered in the accredited scope and using equipment that cannot be moved from one location to another.

The second category is characterized because the tests are performed with portable equipment, directly at the sampling site, which may be at the front of the construction or civil works, delivering results immediately in most cases. And the last one, it is the complete laboratory that moves to the sampling site, regardless of the nature of the equipment used in the tests. Each type of laboratory presents a series of conditions, restrictions and benefits when providing services, but, as long as they are covered by the accreditation granted by ONAC, they comply with the elements of competence established in the international standard ISO/IEC 17025 and the requirements of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

Currently, ONAC has 52 accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) for this sector, legal entities that subscribe the accreditation with ONAC. The operational headquarters or Laboratories reach a total of 67 (permanent site) covering 11 departments from 32 in whole country, and 20 cities and/or municipalities, information that can be identified in Figure 1. Additionally, fourteen (14) CABs have laboratories that are accredited to perform on-site testing and one (1) corresponds to a mobile laboratory, being this the only sector that has this type of laboratory.

Graph 2

As can be seen in Figure 1, the largest number of accredited laboratories are located in the city of Bogotá, D.C., with 32 laboratories, equivalent to 48% of the total, Antioquia has 8 laboratories, representing 12%, Atlántico with 7 laboratories, reaches 10%, Cundinamarca with 6 laboratories equals 9%, Santander with 4 laboratories accredited laboratories reaches 6%, Norte de Santander with 3 laboratories reaches 5%, Valle del Cauca and Bolívar with 2 laboratories, 3% each one and Risaralda, Caldas and Boyacá with 1 laboratory, correspond to 1.5% each one. In general terms, testing activities for the sector are centralized in the departments of the Andean, Caribbean and Pacific regions, covering the main capital cities. It is important to clarify that the 14 on-site laboratories and the mobile laboratory cover the entire national territory.

 

When we refer to the scopes accredited in Construction laboratories, it is possible to analyze them from several aspects, starting with the type of testing provided, as shown in Graph 2, in which tests under mechanical techniques predominate, reaching 40% of the total accredited tests offered by the accredited laboratories, tests that include: tensile, tension, breakage, compression, among others, to determine material resistance.

Graph 3

Secondly, there are gravimetric techniques, which constitute 35 % of the total number of accredited tests, including: moisture determination and ratios, particle size distribution, aggregate index, density, among others. 12% corresponds to physical tests, which include the determination of surface quality, linear mass, moisture content by distillation, among others. 6 % of the accredited tests are dimensional, with tests such as: measurement of projections in bars, thickness of compacted specimens of asphalt mixtures, measurement of graphite and wires, among others.

And finally, the remaining 7% (Others) corresponds to tests performed under various techniques such as: physicochemical, colorimetry, optical emission spectrophotometry, rheology, among others. All these tests are of great relevance for the sector, as they allow to determine the quality of materials and items, and thus guarantee their reliability and adequacy in the construction processes.

Another way to classify the accredited scopes of the sector’s laboratories corresponds to the test item, although a laboratory may have within its portfolio, for example, tests in the mechanical field, this is limited to a detailed group of items, for which it has demonstrated that it can provide services competently. Graph 3 shows the distribution of accredited tests by type of item.

 

Graph 4

 

The accredited tests cover several types of items and materials. Among these, we find tests for soils, rocks and aggregates (fine and coarse aggregates), which are mostly gravimetric and the most offered in the sector, reaching 49 % of the total accredited scopes. Then, with 17 % are the tests performed on asphalt, cement and pavements, including hydraulic cement, and with 9 % the tests on asphalt mixtures, in which for these two types of materials the tests are predominantly of mechanical and gravimetric type.

Accredited tests on steel materials (rebar, smooth bars, electro welded mesh, smooth and drawn steel wire, among others) represent 12 % of the total number of tests, and for this type of materials, most of the tests are mechanical. Tests on concrete (including hydraulic concrete) and prefabricated concrete, in which mechanical compression and flexural tests predominate, represent 9 %, and tests on masonry materials (paving blocks, slabs, bricks, blocks, etc.) of mechanical type represent 4 %.

Although the materials and items mentioned above are those that predominate in the construction and civil works sector, there are also accredited testing laboratories that offer services for complementary materials and items or items of indirect use for the sector, such as electrical elements, plastics, pipes, among others. All these scopes and the accredited laboratories that provide these services can be consulted in the Official Directory of Accredited Laboratories – DOA.

If we analyze the accredited scopes by type of standard or testing standards used for the provision of services, we can identify a distribution as shown in Graph 4. In which we can see that 47% of the tests offered by accredited laboratories in this sector are performed according to the guidelines of the standards of the National Roads Institute (INVIAS), which is probably related to the needs generated by the institutions that outline the requirements in the contracting of public civil works.

Graph 5

While 34 % of the accredited tests are performed under National Technic Colombian standard – NTC standards, issued by ICONTEC, recognized by the Colombian Government as the National Standardization Organization, these standards are usually adoptions of international standards or standards developed by national standardization committees. In a low percentage, 9%, there are tests with ASTM international standards, and 10% with other standards such as AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), API (American Petroleum Institute), among others.

Considering that almost half of the tests are performed with INVIAS standards, documents based on NTC standards, which are derived from international standards such as ASTM, it is necessary to call attention to the fact that these standards are outdated in relation to the international documents on which they are based (mainly 2013).

This is due to the fact that the speed with which international standards are produced and updated is greater than the speed with which these documents are adopted in Colombia; even more so, when they are included in National Technical Regulations or in the terms for contracting of these services by the State. This lack of updating represents a competitive disadvantage for national laboratories in relation of the mutual recognition agreements that ONAC has signed with ILAC.

Finally, from the information available in ONAC, it is possible to identify the type of organization that owns the accredited laboratories. Most of the accredited laboratories in the sector correspond to private entities, reaching 85%, being clear that it is this type of entities that can adjust their strategies, budgets and operations in a more dynamic way to the market demand in this economic sector. The remaining 15% of the laboratories correspond to public entities. Now, considering the importance of this sector in a developing country like ours, it is highlighted that the academy has taken part in this sector, 9 laboratories are identified ascribed to educational institutions, reaching a participation of 17 %, three laboratories of SENA (National Learning Service) and 6 laboratories of universities, of which two correspond to public universities.

Some reflections

The analysis carried out allows identifying the growth trend of accredited testing laboratories for the construction and civil works sector, as well as some classifications that can be made based on the accredited scopes and the legal nature of the accredited laboratories, but it also allows showing the areas, specific sectors, techniques, items or materials, where there is no supply or the existing supply is insufficient.

An economic and growth sector, such as construction and civil works, in terms of infrastructure for a country owes its success, growth and contribution to society, in part to the quality assurance of its processes, as well as the search for efficiency in its construction methods, for which accredited conformity assessment services, such as the activities performed by testing laboratories, are fundamental and indispensable, in the different stages, from planning, to the confirmation of designs and compliance with specifications once the works or constructions are completed.

For this reason, having a greater capacity of accredited testing, with a greater offer and with the globally accepted level of competence, is a strategic aspect in the competitiveness of the sector.

 

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CRESAC celebrates WAD 2023
World Accreditation Day 2023 celebrations, organized by the Regional Center for Evaluation in Education, Environment, Health and Accreditation in Africa (CRESAC) were held on Friday June 9, 2023, at the Amphitheater of the UFR of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences of the Felix Houphouët Boigny (FHB) University of Cocody. The generic theme was: “Accreditation: Supporting the future of global trade.” 
 
The subthemes developed by CRESAC were entitled:
 
  1. “Issues and Challenges of accreditation in the sustainable development of global trade: Case of the health and education sectors”.
  2. “CRESAC: Regional accreditation opportunity”.
 
This day was co-sponsored by:
  • the Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Health Coverage (MSHP-CMU), Mr. Pierre DIMBA,
  • and the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Professor Adama DIAWARA.
 
The agenda for the day was structured around two important activities:
  • Speeches;
  • Conferences.
1. The speeches
 
  • PCO speech: Welcome and content of the agenda
The day began with a welcome from Professor MONDE Absalome, Head of the Studies and Development Department and President of the Organizing Committee. He addressed warm greetings from CRESAC to the authorities and participants and brought to their attention the content of the day’s agenda.
 
  • Speech by the President of FHB University
The teacher Vincent MONSAN, Vice-President of the University, representing Professor BALLO Zié, President of the Félix-Houphouët Boigny University of Cocody (University hosting the ceremony) indicated that his university was honored by the choice made on it to host such an event.
He also in his speech, recommended to decision-makers to preserve the interests of future generations before hoping in his closing remarks, that the “exchanges resulting from this day lead to an improvement in higher education and health of our populations.”
 
  • Speech by the Executive Secretary of CRESAC
The Executive Secretary of CRESAC, Professor SESS Daniel first thanked his hosts who, through their presence, gave a special shine to this commemorative meeting of the 16th World Accreditation Day. He then noted the need for professionals in the various fields concerned as the world is changing.
 
Mr. Executive Secretary indicated that quality being at the heart of all activity “accreditation bodies and the various players in the quality sector have a duty to work to meet the challenge of fighting for quality and the well-being of our fellow citizens”.
 
The Executive Secretary took the opportunity to present the history of CRESAC, and bring to the attention of the assembly certain achievements including upgrading of the centers of health, development of benchmarks, achievement of accreditation, etc.
 
Mr. Executive Secretary also announced the prospects of accreditation of new laboratories and his vision of seeking the status of signatory of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) of ILAC.
 
At the end of his speech, he expressed his warm thanks to the Ministers.
 
  • Speech by the Representative of the Minister of SHP-CMU (Opening of the day)
Professor Soro _ Kountelé Gona, Deputy Chief of Staff, representing Mr. DIMBA Pierre, Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Health Coverage (MSHP-CMU) welcomed the multiple efforts undertaken by CRESAC, headed by SESS Professor Daniel for the commitment to the culture of quality.
 
In his message, he noted that today’s world is more interconnected than ever, with trade that transcends borders and continents.
 

2. Conferences 

  • 1st Conference
This conference hosted by Ms. Professor DOSSO Mireille, Director of the Pasteur Institute of Ivory Coast, had the theme: “Issues and challenges of accreditation in the sustainable development of global trade: Case of the health and education sectors”.
 
It has structured its development around three axes:
– Definition of the concepts of quality, certification and accreditation
– Issues and challenges of accreditation in education
– Issues and challenges of accreditation in health
 
Regarding the issues and challenges of accreditation in the sustainable development of global trade in the health and education sectors, Professor DOSSO Mireille highlighted the interest in accreditation by demonstrating that it can add value to an organization by establishing trust in its goods and services, improving its competitiveness and making it easier to monitor its compliance in order to “Support the future of global trade.”
 
For her, accreditation in the Higher Education sector will promote the implementation, deployment and recognition of the reform of the License-Master-Doctorate (LMD) system of our States on a global scale, as well as the universalization of knowledge and academic mobility requirements.
 
For the speaker, health accreditation consists of committing to reducing the risks linked to care in order to resolve the equation of sustainability of human existence in global trade.
 
In short, health accreditation remains the key to reducing the challenges in health globally, as well as many problems and potential consequences of this sector, in order to promote global trade.
 
The discussions with the speaker were then moderated by Professor Mamadou SAMBA, Director General of Health.
 
  • 2nd Conference
The second conference was moderated by Professor BONNY Jean-Sylvain, Head of the Occupational Medicine Department of the UFR SMA, who is also a member of the CRESAC executive secretariat.
 
The theme of his intervention was:
“CRESAC: Regional accreditation opportunity”
 
From the outset, he gave the history of the creation of CRESAC and presented its opportunities in the field of accreditation noting that CRESAC remains a benchmark in terms of accreditation, especially since its scope covers several areas.
 
Professor Jean-Sylvain BONNY presented the accreditation procedure:
  1. Accreditation request (Applicant organization)
  2. Examination of the application and notification to the applicant
  3. Preparing for the evaluation visit
  4. Initial assessment
  5. Decision of the Sectoral Accreditation Committee
  6. Notification of the decision to the requesting organization.
 
He presented the opportunities of CRESAC accreditation as contributing to regional positioning and affecting competition in the global market.
 
For Professor Jean-Sylvain BONNY, the laboratories demonstrate their competence and high level of quality thanks to accreditation to international standards, thus strengthening their quality management system.
 
It also increases business efficiency, governance, productivity and profits. Accreditation to globally recognized standards is increasingly important due to competition in the global marketplace.
 
Additionally, accreditation increases the level of investor confidence and strengthens collaboration between suppliers from different countries.
 
The exchanges between the speaker and the public were moderated by Professor MONDE Absalome, Head of the Studies and Development Department of CRESAC.
 
  • Conclusion
The closing speech was made by Professor GNAGNE-KOFFI Yolande, Technical Advisor to the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, responsible for Health. On behalf of the Minister, she addressed words of thanks, encouragement and congratulations to CRESAC, for having developed this precious theme showcasing the challenges in the accreditation of our education and health systems with a view to making a significant contribution in the sustainable development of world trade.
 
She, on behalf of the Minister, congratulated Professor SESS for the strong actions carried out to promote accreditation in Africa and confirming the availability of the ministry to support CRESAC.
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