What exactly is ILAC?
" ILAC is the international organisation for accreditation bodies operating in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 and involved in the accreditation of conformity assessment bodies including calibration laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), testing laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), medical testing laboratories (using ISO 15189), inspection bodies (using ISO/IEC 17020), proficiency testing providers (using ISO/IEC 17043) and reference material producers (using ISO 17034).
Accreditation is the independent evaluation of conformity assessment bodies against recognised standards to carry out specific activities to ensure their impartiality and competence. Through the application of national and international standards, government, procurers and consumers can have confidence in the calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications provided.
Accreditation bodies are established in many economies with the primary purpose of ensuring that conformity assessment bodies are subject to oversight by an authoritative body. Accreditation bodies, that have been peer evaluated as competent, sign regional and international arrangements to demonstrate their competence. These accreditation bodies then assess and accredit conformity assessment bodies to the relevant standards.
The arrangements support the provision of local or national services, such as providing safe food and clean drinking water, providing energy, delivering health and social care or maintaining an unpolluted environment. In addition, the arrangements enhance the acceptance of products and services across national borders, thereby creating a framework to support international trade through the removal of technical barriers.
The international arrangements are managed by ILAC in the fields of calibration, testing, medical testing, inspection and proficiency testing providers accreditation and IAF in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes of conformity assessment. Both organisations, ILAC and IAF, work together and coordinate their efforts to enhance the accreditation and the conformity assessment worldwide.
The regional arrangements are managed by the recognised regional co-operation bodies that work in harmony with ILAC and IAF. The recognised regional co-operations are also represented on the ILAC and IAF Executive Committees. ILAC works closely with the regional co-operation bodies involved in accreditation, notably EA in Europe, APAC in the Asia-Pacific, IAAC in the Americas, AFRAC in Africa, SADCA in Southern Africa, and ARAC in the Arab region."
As you look at the symbol above, it does not help you understand the connection between ILAC and accredited calibration.
What does it mean when you request an ISO 17025 accredited calibration and should you really care about the ILAC symbol?
Alliance Calibration is accredited to ISO 17025 through ANAB.
"The ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is a non-governmental organization that provides accreditation services and training to public- and private-sector organizations, serving the global marketplace. ANAB is the largest accreditation body in North America and provides services in more than 75 countries. Our business depends on focusing on customers so all users will continue to value our service and have confidence in the ANAB accreditation symbol."
ILAC and Accredited Calibration: How does it work?
"Accreditation allows you to make an informed decision when selecting an organisation to carry out your testing, calibration, or inspection activities, as it demonstrates competence, impartiality and capability of that organisation. As a result, accreditation helps to underpin the credibility, safety and performance of goods and services. Accreditation bodies around the world, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, have signed an arrangement that enhances the acceptance of products and services across national borders. The purpose of this arrangement, the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), (often referred to as the ILAC Arrangement) is to create an international framework to support international trade through the removal of technical barriers."
When you request ISO 17025 accredited calibration from a laboratory that is part of the ILAC Mutual recognition Arrangement, it means the results of those accredited calibrations are recognized internationally.
Why the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement might be important to your business.
If you do business globally or your parent company is in another country it can become very confusing when preparing an RFP for calibration. A prime example of this in the United States is the request for " NIST traceable" calibration. The United Kingdom has the National Physical Laboratory, Australia has the National Measurement Institute and South Africa has the National Laboratory Association.
If you are part of the supply chain that provides parts to a UK based company, imagine the cost of shipping your measurement and test equipment to the UK for calibration then back to the US. We won't even talk about the damage that could occur during shipping! This is one reason why using an ISO17025 accredited calibration company that is part of the ILAC- MRA is important to your business.
You may want to read What you need to know about NIST number before you request a NIST traceable calibration. Seriously,. Read this, you are most likely asking for the wrong thing.
How do I know if my calibration provider is part of the ILAC agreement?
The easiest way to determine if your ISO 17025 accredited laboratory is part of the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement is to view their Scope of Accreditation.
As you can see on Alliance Calibration's Certificate of Accreditation the ILAC-MRA symbol is present. That means our accreditation body participates in the ILAC agreement.
There are other accreditation bodies in addition to ANAB and you can search their websites for this information. However, it is common practice to use the ILC-MRA seal on the scope of accreditation.
When you have your calibrations performed by an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory that is part of the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement technical barriers to trade are removed.
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