SGS Canada Inc. Mineral Services and Activation Laboratories Ltd. (Actlabs) are revealing a silver lining to the current cyclical downturn in the mineral analysis industry: they are capitalizing on that downtime by working toward the Standards Council of Canada’s (SCC’s) group accreditation option.
For several years, both organizations’ laboratories – and, as a result, their mining customers – have benefited from being accredited to key international standards. One such standard is International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/IEC 17025 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, the main ISO standard used by testing and calibration laboratories.
The group accreditation advantage
Actlabs and SGS are now undergoing SCC group accreditation – adopting a corporate quality management system (QMS) to cover more than three laboratory locations.
“SCC accreditation allows an organization to establish a documented quality management system, adhere to recognized practices and standards, and strengthen the competence of staff, leading to increased confidence in testing results,” says SCC’s Vice-President, Accreditation Services, Chantal Guay.
“The advantage of group accreditation is that SCC assesses the management system component (Section 4 of ISO/IEC17025) of an organization’s QMS only once – at the corporate headquarters, during each assessment cycle,” she says. “The emphasis is on the testing component at each of the group’s accredited sites, rather than assessing each section of the standard at each individual laboratory location.
“By doing so, SCC is ensuring that SGS and Actlabs have a strong, centralized QMS in place for all of their laboratories,” Guay adds. “The entire organization is therefore achieving significant cost savings.”
SCC was a proud supporter of the Canadian Mineral Analysts 2014 Conference, September 21-25, 2014, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
This article is reprinted, with permission, from RESOURCE WORLD magazine.
SGS Canada: World’s largest ISO/IEC 17025 minerals scope
For SGS Canada Inc. Mineral Services, the benefits of accreditation and having a QMS in place are abundant. “Accreditation benefits our organization in many ways, including the standardization of policies and procedures for both the management and technical requirements of our testing businesses,” says Valerie Kuch, Quality Systems Manager at SGS.
In 1995, SGS’s Lakefield, Ontario site was the first laboratory SCC accredited under Program Specialty Area CAN-P-1579 – Requirements for the Accreditation of Mineral Analysis Testing Laboratories.
When SCC initially accredited SGS to ISO/IEC 17025 in 2000, the laboratory had a scope of 10 mineral analysis tests. Today, the site offers customers a scope of 60 tests, with an additional seven tests pending final review. “We believe that this makes SGS Lakefield the holder of the largest ISO/IEC 17025 minerals accreditation scope in the world,” says Kuch.
Ensuring quality data
According to Russ Calow, Vice President Global Geochemistry at SGS, “The data from our global network of laboratories is used to make billion-dollar decisions and to ensure that local population groups are free from environmental impact. The quality of our data, which underpins our QMS and accreditation, is key to ensuring our laboratory data is accepted and fit for purpose.”
SGS’s group accreditation plans will include its laboratories in Lakefield, Sudbury, Red Lake and Cochrane, Ontario, and Burnaby, British Columbia.
“Our Lakefield laboratory’s QMS has been duplicated globally as we have expanded our network of laboratories to more than 150, in 49 countries, and as it became imperative that our expanding network of labs benefits from the implementation of consistent and standardized policies, procedures and systems,” says Calow. “The common QMS also improves the efficiency and accuracy of internal and external auditing and is much easier to manage and optimize.”
Actlabs: Gaining a marketing edge
Dr. Eric Hoffman, President of Activation Laboratories Ltd. (Actlabs), says his Ancaster, Ontario-based organization has crystallized success on several fronts through the development and implementation of its corporate QMS.
“Major benefits have included forcing us to put policies and procedures on paper, creating a better employee training program and providing a kick start to improve our processes and better document them,” says Dr. Hoffman.
“We are also obtaining improved data quality – all of which gives us a marketing advantage versus many of our major competitors,” he adds. “A lot of our clients in recent years have been requiring ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation before they will use our services.”
Actlabs is now undergoing the process of group accreditation for all of its laboratories, he says, which will include Kamloops, British Columbia, and Sudbury and Timmins, Ontario.
“We anticipate group accreditation will simplify our QMS, help us more easily identify synergistic improvement opportunities, and reduce the overall cost of accreditation,” says Dr. Hoffman.”