OCAS initiated the ISO17025 procedure for accreditation. In this first step, OCAS aims to achieve an accreditation for accelerated corrosion testing and chemical analysis of metals.
“This is a milestone”, explains Roger Hubert, Chief Scientific Officer at OCAS. “Quality and timing is important for our customers. Being fully certified according to ISO9001 for its quality and OHSAS18001 for its policy on occupational health and safety, we felt OCAS was ready to further enhance its service level. Initiating the accreditation procedure helps us to push our performance to a higher level: continually improving data quality and laboratory effectiveness, results in lean processes to the benefit of our customers”.
“We opted to start accreditation in our expertise area of analytical chemistry and corrosion”, says Jan Scheers, Department head Materials Characterisation & Testing at OCAS. “To start with, we initiated the accreditation of Salt Spray Test according to ASTM B117 as standard test and a range of lab-developed tests in the field of chemical analysis:
- Determination of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen by combustion analysis;
- Spark source optical emission spectrometry (SS-OES) of low carbon steel;
- Energy and wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (ED-XRF and WD-XRF) of high alloyed steels.”
“However, we did not limit the implementation of accreditation principles to the tests listed”, continues Myriam Madani, Technical Manager Analytical Chemistry & Corrosion at OCAS. “It sharpened our mindset. Quality awareness has become even more important. Our processes are now described in much more detail and our overall management system has been adapted. Our in-house developed database called JobManager transformed into a lab integrated management system (LIMS). With the implementation of digital standard operating procedures we made this LIMS fully compliant with accreditation.”
“Preparing the accreditation audit, was a huge project”, admits Lotte Descamps, lab technician at OCAS. “But soon the benefits for OCAS and our customers became clear. By critically analysing each step of an operating procedure and looking at it from a different angle, we noticed unexpected opportunities for improvement.”
Barbara Van Langenhove, lab technician at OCAS agrees: “This compliance project makes you think twice about procedures that had become daily routine. It is inspiring to discover improvements to make procedures better and leaner. It is worth all the hard work we put in when we see the results”.