The Test and Research Centre Ltd (T&R) has become the first test laboratory in the UK to achieve accreditation (ISO 17025) for the mobile access tower standard BS EN 1004-1:2020 from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
John Darby, General Manager at T&R, explains more about accreditation and why it is important for the company.
2nd August 2021
Our clients rely on us to produce competent and reliable test reports. To demonstrate our competence, over the last twelve months we have been working with UKAS to obtain accreditation as a test laboratory in accordance with ISO 17025, for:
BS EN 1004-1:2020 – Mobile access and working towers made of prefabricated elements
Part 1 – Materials, dimensions, design loads, safety and performance requirements
We had already incorporated the requirements of ISO 17025 into our management system. But UKAS can only assess organisations that are already doing the work – you can’t audit an idea!
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the whole process, but in late 2020, UKAS undertook a “pre-assessment” audit to review T&R’s readiness for the Initial Assessment. This one day audit was a long and stressful day, but the assessors were happy with what they had seen and recommended progressing to the Initial Assessment.
By Easter 2021, after further COVID related delays, UKAS had completed the Initial Assessment at the laboratory in Soham.
First, the process involves a review of the management system. Due to COVID, they did this remotely. Our assessors reviewed the documented processes, procedures and records for conformity with ISO 17025. Then during an on-site review a few days later, our assessors went through the activities and controls in the laboratory. It was another long and stressful day, but all the hard work of the previous months paid off. We had a handful of nonconformities to close out, about a dozen in total, which is apparently very good going. One of the assessors said it’s not uncommon to get 5 times that number at the Initial Assessment.
We had three months to close out the corrective actions. ‘No problem!’, I thought, but the time soon disappeared. Keeping the laboratory running, with increasing levels of testing due to a growing client base, didn’t leave much time. However, they were submitted by the deadline, and these were to UKAS satisfaction, we received our grant of accreditation on the 22nd July 2021.
This is a major milestone in establishing the Test & Research Centre as the independent specialist for access equipment, and it’s a great reward for the hard work it took to get here.
The Certificate of Accreditation can be found on the UKAS website, together with the Schedule of Accreditation.
T&R makes application to UKAS for Accreditation
UKAS complete pre-assessment at Soham
UKAS complete pre-assessment at Soham
UKAS grants Accreditation
As a fundamental part of what we do, we need to make sure that our test laboratory can provide technically competent and reliable test reports. Our clients rely on these reports to demonstrate product conformity. Either as part of the development process or as independent third-party testing to support product sales.
We are also a Certification Body and provide product certification with our T&RGETMARK. With a UKAS accredited test laboratory, we can then rely on the test reports as part of the product certification process.
ISO 17025 is the international standard for test laboratories:
ISO 17025:2017 – General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories
ISO 17025 contains requirements for:
For specific items like measurement instruments, the standard requires us to demonstrate an unbroken chain of calibrations going back to the national measurement standard. We achieve this through external calibration and regular internal checks and comparisons. This ensures that all equipment stays within its acceptance criteria and can be used for measurements.
When it comes to working to standards, like EN 1004-1, we work to a process and a procedure. This ensures that every product we assess is approached in the same impartial and repeatable way.
UKAS will be back for the first surveillance audit in December, so we need to consistently maintain the high standards we have set ourselves in preparation for this.
Now we are accredited, we have several options on where to go next. As we now have a relationship with UKAS, expanding the ISO 17025 scope of accreditation to other standards should be a little more straightforward. In addition, we can start to think about accreditation for other services we offer, such as becoming a Certification Body to ISO 17065.
The Test & Research Centre was founded to help make access products and their users safer. We are committed to working with all stakeholders, including the Office for Product Safety and Standards and industry bodies like PASMA, to ensure that users have access to products that conform with British and European Standards.
If you manufacture, import or distribute mobile access towers, we can help you to: