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Proficiency Testing (PT) and Inter-Laboratory Comparison (ILC) can provide many benefits to testing and calibration laboratories. The successful completion of a well-designed proficiency test can validate the measurement method, technical training, traceability of standards, and uncertainty budgets of the laboratory. Additionally, proficiency tests can provide a good indication about the quality of the reported results. If the laboratory can successfully complete the instructions in the technical protocol for the proficiency test, it is also a good indication that the laboratory does well in following specific customer instructions which may accompany a calibration request.
Conversely, failing a proficiency test can identify nonconformities within the laboratory quality system, and allow the laboratory to improve their processes before the nonconformities come to the attention of the laboratory’s customers. Although laboratories do not like failing proficiency tests, most appreciate the lessons learned in the experience.
How can PT / ILC make our company better?
Participation in PT / ILC activities can gauge where a laboratory’s measurements may stand in the community of similar laboratories. PT reports can provide information on where a laboratory may need improvement. Problems with equipment, processes, or operator training can easily be identified through proficiency testing data. Proficiency testing essentially validates the work that is performed each day by comparison to other individuals or companies.
How often does the PT/ILC need to be completed?
With the international model requiring laboratories to participate in PT/ILC’s, a critical part of that is planning. With the proper planning of the PT/ILC’s the laboratory can benefit greatly. This will capture which technicians can do what and make sure that the scope of accreditation is being covered.
What if I cannot find a PT/ILC?
L-A-B maintains Form 205.7 listing approved PT/ILC providers. These are either accredited to or have been reviewed by L-A-B and meet the general requirements of ISO/IEC 17043. There are some measurements or tests for which proficiency testing is not available or practical and L-A-B Policy 002 has provisions for these cases.
Where do I find information on L-A-B PT/ILC Requirements and Policies?
L-A-B Policies Page – Click Here
Forms and Documents Page – Click Here