Before an Inspection Body (a laboratory or other facility) can perform First Article Inspections, or indeed any type of inspection, for clients, it must be inspected itself and awarded an accreditation.
In the United States, the inspection labs that test the capabilities of manufacturers are accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).
These accreditation tests ensure that the inspection body:
- is competent to perform specific inspections or specific types of inspections; and
- (has a) quality system (which is) is documented, fully operational and addresses and conforms to all elements of ISO/IEC 17025-2005, IAF/ILAC A4:2004 and A2LA official applications of these standards;
- is operating in accordance its quality system; and
- conforms to any additional requirements of A2LA or specific fields or programs necessary to meet particular user needs.
Regulatory Bodies that Produce Standards
ISO: International Organization for Standardization
IEC: International Electrotechnical Commission
IAF: International Accreditation Forum
ILAC: International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization is a standard-setting body, with a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Membership is voluntarily, and its members are recognized authorities on standards, each one representing one country. Most of the work of ISO (not an acronym, but actually the Greek word for “equal”) is done by 2,700 technical committees, subcommittees, and working groups.
Although ISO publishes technical reports, technical specifications, and guides, their main products are international standards.
These international standards are designated with the format ISO (and then either [/IEC] or [/ASTM] ) then a number [Innnnn[-p]:[yyyy] and then a Title.
For example: ISO/IEC 17025-2005 General criteria for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection.
IEC stands for International Electrotechnical Commission, and is included if the standard has been produced by the work of ISO/IEC JTC1 (the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee).
(Standards produced in conjunction with the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) would use that acronym.)
International Electrotechnical Commission
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organization. It prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies, or electrotechnology.
Standards produced by the IEC cover a wide range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology and marine energy as well as many others.
The IEC also manages three global conformity assessment systems that certify whether equipment, system or components conform to its International Standards.
International Accreditation Forum
The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation bodies.
Its main function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment in order to reduce the risk for business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates can be relied upon.
International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation
Thee International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) , originally started as a conference tasked to develop international cooperation for the facilitation of trade by promoting the acceptance of accredited test and calibration results was formally chartered in 1996 as a formal cooperation, in order to establish a network of mutual recognition agreements among accreditation bodies to fulfill that goal.
The end result is a free-trade goal of a certified once and accepted everywhere.