The South African Institute of Welding (SAIW) testing laboratory at the SAIW’s headquarters has been ISO 17025- accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (Sanas) and, according to SAIW executive director Sean Blake, this is a significant step in the expansion of the services provided by the lab.
“This is the single most important standard for calibration and testing laboratories in South Africa – and probably in the world. It confirms unequivocally that our testing lab is technically competent and that it is able to produce precise and accurate test results,” Blake says.
The ISO 17025 standard comprises five elements namely scope, normative references, terms and definitions, management requirements and technical requirements. The management requirements are primarily related to the operation and effectiveness of the quality management system within the laboratory, while the technical requirements include the factors that determine the correctness and reliability of the tests performed.
SAIW materials testing lab project manager and technical signatory Dr Surekha Krishnan says that the SAIW lab uses the ISO 17025 standard to implement a quality system that ensures the consistent production of valid results.
“The lab has a well-documented quality management system and our accreditation is confirmation of our reliability and professionalism,” she says.
The lab has been ISO 17025-accredited for tensile, bend, Vickers and Rockwell hardness, impact and chemical analysis tests. It will also be ISO 17025-accredited for nondestructive testing techniques, namely liquid penetrant testing, magnetic particle testing, ultrasonic testing and radiographic testing.
Krishnan adds that the SAIW testing lab is playing an increasing role in helping the local welding and related industries to test the quality of their processes.
“Pretesting of critical elements is fundamental to the safety of our industry and, as an institute and the leading welder training organisation in Africa, it is important that we are able to provide a high-quality service in this domain. This accreditation is proof that we will now be able to grow our customer base significantly,” she says.
Sanas, which is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, was established in terms of Section 3(1) of the Accreditation for Conformity Assessment Calibration and Good Laboratory Practice Act, 2006.
Blake says that, one of Sasas’s main aims is to promote accreditation as a means of facilitating international trade and enhancing South Africa’s economic performance and transformation.