News

ISO/IEC 17025 – where does your lab get stuck?

It’s no longer the ‘new’ version of the Standard. But when the 2017 version of ISO/IEC 17025 was released there was quite a bit of anxiety about the changes and how they should be implemented. This was particularly the case for NATA accredited labs whose first assessment visits after the standard was implemented were sometimes …read more »

NATA accreditation – do you really need it? 

We all know that lab owners and managers have plenty to do and lots to think about. Juggling the daily needs of the business can be enough to fill your day. Setting aside time to make long term plans feels like a luxury you can’t afford. So perhaps you’ve been thinking that if you didn’t …read more »

Mission critical: staff training for business growth

Did you know one of your colleagues breeds chickens? And another one fosters dogs? And of course, there’s the one with four school age children. While these are interesting titbits, all these people have skills that help them in the workplace. This includes attention to detail, compassion, negotiating skills and LOTS of patience! At MAS, …read more »

5 steps to risk management success

No doubt you’ve read through the ISO/IEC 17025 standards plenty of times and you’ve seen an increased emphasis on risk-based thinking. We’ve written articles previously about risk management and discussed how the requirements need you to look at risks in a more formalised and strategic way. Since it’s not prescribed HOW this should happen, some …read more »

There’s a fraction too much friction

Ever since caveman days we’ve relied on others to ensure positive outcomes. Heading out on your own to grab a mammoth because you felt like a steak would have ended in a swift and probably painful death. Being on Zoom or Teams meetings means we’ve forgotten all our colleagues’ little quirks. As we’re slowly emerging …read more »

Getting to the root of the problem

It’s Friday morning and as you walk out of your front door, you look up and think what a beautiful day it is. The overnight rain has left the air crisp and fresh. Stepping out onto the path, your foot slips on wet leaves and you feel yourself falling. You put your hand out to …read more »

Management reviews – are you doing them properly?

Once you’ve completed your assessment visit, you may feel like you can take a deep breath and rest on your laurels for a while. And this is absolutely true. You certainly can do this. For at least a couple of hours. Because once you’ve waved goodbye to your NATA assessment team and closed the door, …read more »

Is your NATA accreditation in danger?

We’ve written previously about your quality system. We’ve addressed training and internal auditing and how to be sure your QMS is up to scratch. But we also know that sometimes things can start to go wrong in a lab. And these are things that could lead to a lot of issues in your next assessment …read more »

Making your internal audits meaningful not mediocre

Evidence of auditing has been discovered dating from the fourth millennium BC. Scribes in Mesopotamia kept records on clay tablets, some of which showed tiny marks beside the figures. These dots, ticks and circles indicate that checking of the records had been done. While we still use tablets today, generally they’re the electronic kind (if …read more »

Show me the records!

At MAS, we’ve been part of and carried out hundreds of NATA assessments. It doesn’t take long before you start to see a pattern. You begin to see the same issues emerging and learn just where a lab is going to come unstuck. Labs know that preparing for their assessment is critical. But labs are …read more »

Does your lab have a disaster plan?

You may have excellent systems in place. You and your staff work as safely as possible. But despite your precautions, there’s always a possibility that something may go horribly wrong. That’s why having a disaster plan in place is so important. While it may not be a specific requirement of ISO standards it will add …read more »

The Star Wars guide to good practice in a lab

There so much ‘stuff’ that goes on in a lab. People are busy, they’ve got important jobs to do. And all these questions and requirements about compliance and needing information and good practice! Honestly, what’s the point? That’s why you need information from someone who has presence. Someone with authority and The Force to back …read more »

Temperature Controls achieves NATA accreditation!

It took just over two years, but on 10 August 2021, Temperature oControls were thrilled to finally be granted NATA accreditation! Considering the restrictions placed on businesses during The Time of Covid, this achievement is even more noteworthy. The beginnings Temperature oControls began in 1988, originally focussing on producing temperature and level sensors for industrial …read more »

Let’s talk about NATA accreditation

Our guidance document Navigating the NATA accreditation maze was written to provide an overview of the NATA accreditation process. However, we thought that a little more detail would be helpful if you’re looking to start down this path. And for those labs already holding NATA accreditation, there’s some hints for you as well. Know your …read more »

5 TOP TIPS for presenting Measurement Uncertainty

Eccentric business owners. Cantankerous managers. Agitated lab staff. Confused clients. As consultants, we’ve seen it all (well most of it anyway…). However, by far the most consistent issue we’ve come across is confusion about measurement uncertainty (MU). Often, a business will approach us after an accreditation body (AB) such as NATA has rejected their MU …read more »

Impartiality: passing the Pub Test

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ll have noticed quite a stir about the Federal Government’s program for funding of commuter carparks. Under the Urban Congestion Fund (UCF), established in the 2018–19 Budget, the Commonwealth sought to ‘support projects to remediate pinch points, improve traffic safety and increase network efficiency for commuter and …read more »

How to keep NATA happy

We know you’re busy. For business owners or managers, there’s always plenty of juggling to be done. And with Covid restrictions thrown into the mix, you’d be forgiven for thinking that keeping an Accreditation Body happy is the last thing on your mind! However, we also know that keeping your business processes and procedures up …read more »

The role of perverse incentives

During the time of British rule in India, the government became concerned about the number of cobras in Delhi. To reduce this problem, the government offered a bounty for every dead cobra and initially, the program was wildly successful. Large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward and the government took a moment to …read more »

Are you listening??

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” So said Stephen Covey, author of ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’. We’ve all been guilty of this. In our recent article we discussed asking the right questions. But the best questions in the world won’t matter …read more »

Preparing for your assessment

You’ve received the notification. Your assessment is coming up in two weeks and the team will be arriving at 8:30am on the day. Deep cleansing breaths. With a bit of preparation, assessment day may not be a breeze, but you’ll definitely feel in control. Being prepared shows your assessment team that your organisation is professional …read more »

NEW (FINANCIAL) YEAR RESOLUTIONS

Happy New Year!! While a new financial year probably won’t see you popping champagne and singing Auld Lang Syne (unless you moonlight as an Accountant) it’s still an important time of year. For those very organised folks who regularly scan and file their receipts and make notes about expenses, end of financial year tax returns …read more »

How to ask good questions

Many of us can spend large chunks of our day seeking information. Whether it’s an update from a team member, negotiations with a contractor or trying to get more than an ‘ugh’ from a teenager, we usually do this by asking questions. Asking questions fuels learning, improves interpersonal bonding and rapport plus it makes us …read more »

Training bundles provide best business value

Good things come in big bundles Suddenly it’s June and apart from the fact we’ve pulled out our track pants and beanies, the scramble has also started to check budgets before the end of the financial year. And because it can sometimes be a case of ‘use it or lose it’, businesses may be looking …read more »

Root cause analysis means digging deeper

We’ve written previously about root cause analysis and just how important it is for your quality system. Root cause analysis (RCA) is about problem solving – sort of like CSI for your quality system. As you get better at performing RCA, your process will be less reactive and more proactive, leading to improvements in your …read more »

Measure twice. Or maybe more…

We’ve written previously about what can happen when your measurements aren’t quite as good as they should be. measure These mistakes can cost money and, in some cases, can also cost lives. And sometimes they just make you scratch your head… The Laufenburg Bridge In 2003 construction began on a bridge to span the Rhine River. …read more »

Changing your mind about risk management

“Opportunity and risk come in pairs” Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom Risk isn’t a chore to wade through a few times a year. As the quote above says, it can be something positive and goes hand-in-hand with opportunities. Many different companies share similar risks, like a poor economic outlook over the short-term (well, …read more »

Shhh it’s a secret – confidentiality in the lab

We’ve all heard the expression knowledge is power. In the hands of cybercriminals, knowledge is also big business. In a lab setting, it’s understood that keeping information safe and secure is in the best interests of clients and your business. If you hold accreditation or certification, it’s also a requirement of the standard. ISO standards …read more »

Let’s talk about metrological traceability

It’s entirely possible that metrological traceability won’t come up at your next social gathering. However, if you’re looking for a conversation starter in a lab, this is a sure-fire winner! Anyone working in science and technology understands that there is often a need to compare results over time or between different batches or laboratories. Measurement …read more »

Quality: A balancing act

We believe in seeking out and sharing ideas that will support your business to be better and smarter. Different perspectives on quality and business practices may provoke conversations in your workplace that lead to new and better ways of doing things. We reached out to our network of experts and asked for their perspectives on …read more »

Supercharge your systems!

Many organisations have a quality (or environment, or safety) management system. If you’re in one of these organisations, then I bet you’ve sometimes felt like the ‘system’ rules your life, rather than you ruling the system. How did it get to be this way? More importantly, how can you change this? It probably got to …read more »

World first accreditation for Vecta!

It took a river of coffee, reams of paper and four years of hard work but in March 2021, Vecta Pty Ltd were delighted to finally be granted accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025! The accredited electrical test methods are in Passive RF and Microwave Devices; intermodulation level measurement (PIM); Return Loss (uniformity of impedance) and Insertion …read more »

5 powerful ways a consultant can help your business

How many times have you heard the expression ‘two heads are better than one’? Or heard someone bemoan the fact that they could do with an extra pair of hands. By using a business consultant, you can add an extra brain and another pair of hands without getting bogged down in the process of a …read more »

Solving your communication breakdown

Quality communication: A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the plight of the critically endangered regent honeyeater. It seems that the male birds are either forgetting their birdsong, singing an abbreviated version, or beginning to mimic the songs of other birds. Since the females don’t recognise these songs they’re not matching with males. …read more »

The road to high performance in sustainability

We believe in seeking out information and ideas that will support your business to be better and smarter. Different perspectives on quality and business practices may provoke conversations in your workplace that lead to new and better ways of doing things. So we’re reaching out to our network of experts and asking for their perspectives …read more »

How did THAT happen??

There are some things you never want to hear. Words like “uh oh” from your hairdresser when they’re standing behind you during a haircut. Or “I’ve never seen THAT before” when your doctor is looking at an x-ray. Or perhaps a guilty-looking family member asking, “How much did you like that (extremely valuable fragile item) …read more »

ARE YOU BEING SERVED?

For those of a certain demographic, this title will conjure up a British television sitcom based in Grace Brothers Department Store. But perhaps you heard those words just today, when you went into a clothing store or supermarket. In last week’s article, we examined the theories of three quality thinkers – Deming, Juran and Crosby. …read more »

A trio of quality thinkers

Anyone who has ever been involved in quality or project management would have heard the names Deming, Juran and Crosby. Their contributions have had long lasting ramifications and made us all think differently about what quality is, what it means and how to achieve it. We’ll be running a series of articles all about quality …read more »

Document control 101

In our previous article we looked at documents and in particular, what makes good ones. Good documentation forms the essential guidelines for operations in your lab. But your documentation system isn’t just a ‘set and forget’. Documents require reviewing, updating and managing to ensure they’re accurate, up-to-date, and available. And that’s where a document control …read more »

The write stuff – documentation in your lab

No matter what your area of expertise, all scientists and engineers know the importance of documentation. Lab documents allow you to review your activities. They help you to train your staff. Excellent documentation provides proof of accurate, reliable testing not just to clients but also to external accreditation or audit bodies. In fact, the management …read more »

Cybersecurity: can you defend your data?

Cybersecurity is big business and big news. Many more of us are in hybrid arrangements, working from home and in the office. Businesses have had to re-think not just how they work but also the security of their systems. The healthcare sector was under enormous pressure during 2020. As if this wasn’t enough, it was …read more »

Do you REALLY need to train your staff?

We’ve written before about why you should pay for training courses but we haven’t addressed this question: why should you train staff at all? Whether you’ve been in your job for a while or if you’ve just started a new one (congratulations!) the ideal scenario is that you should always be learning. Not just the …read more »

Manual adjustments

Ah, the start of a new year. Our resolutions are still fresh and crispy (like the salads we’ve committed to eat more of this year…). We have new calendars and wall planners, just waiting for the imprints of our fabulous new year. But before you leap into the year ahead, there’s a couple of things …read more »

The 5 whys of ISO/IEC 17025

As any accredited lab will know, understanding ISO/IEC 17025 is a critical part of how your lab operates. From developing your quality manual to sending out reports to your customers, the process is clearly defined, simple to follow and easy to implement. Right? Well…judging by the number of ‘help with ISO/IEC 17025 courses’ available, maybe …read more »

Things we’ve learned in 2020

Every year we see examples of the best and the worst of humans. There are always protests, political unrest, wildfires, and catastrophes on a global scale. But in 2020, this was multiplied by COVID.   We were thrown together in our fear. We were kept apart in grief. And the world as we knew it, …read more »

Mind your language

Back in the dark ages (the 1970s) there was a British sitcom called ‘Mind your language’ which was set in an adult education college. For those that missed this television gem, it focussed on an English as a Foreign Language class with an earnest teacher, struggling to teach a variety of international students the mysteries …read more »

Testing times for athletes

During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Brenton Rickard was part of Australia’s 4 x 100m medley swim team. The team won a bronze medal in the event. Eight years down the track, the sample he provided on 1 August 2012 was re-tested. It returned a positive result for furosemide. Furosemide is a diuretic commonly …read more »

Lab report writing 101

You are an expert in your lab. You know your procedures and can carry these out with your eyes closed (although from a safety perspective we hope this isn’t happening!). Once you’ve carried out your activity, you can put that information into your data collection device and that spits out your  lab report. Or perhaps …read more »

50 Shades of….Measurement Uncertainty

Measurement Uncertainty. OK, we understand that this isn’t the sexiest of topics. In fact, it probably isn’t something that makes it through your front door, let alone into the bedroom! However, if you’re running a lab, Measurement Uncertainty (MU) is something you should know about in all its shades of grey. Let’s take a look …read more »

How do you build a framework for business success?

No business has ever regretted implementing standards for improvement. A quality management system is put in place because you want to deliver on the expectations of your customers. Get this right, deliver your goods or services according to expectations while remaining compliant with regulations, and you have a recipe for business success. A quality management …read more »

Resistance is futile: how to ace your internal audit

We all know the feeling when an external assessment is coming up. The scurrying search for documents, the interminable hours of scanning, the crossing of eyes and slurping of teas… But what about internal audits? Your colleagues do these. They’re all on your side so you’re bound to get a free pass on some of …read more »

How to solve the metrological traceability mystery

Traceability is an indispensable part of any quality management system. It’s an essential topic in any audit of a quality management system, whether it’s a NATA assessment or a certification audit. It enables tracking back to a point of origin through to the point of release or use. Just as any good detective will tell …read more »

Why should you pay for online training courses?

It seems that everyone is a training expert these days. In fact, with so many free online training courses available, you’re probably asking yourself ‘Why should I pay for online training courses?’ Well, here are 6 reasons: It’s convenient We like to find the easy road, the path of least resistance. Fast food, quick service, …read more »

What’s a quality management system and do you need it?

According to the American Society for Quality website a quality management system (QMS) is defined as: ‘…a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous …read more »

More tips for remote assessments

It’s been a few months since our last article about carrying out remote assessments. Although everyone has improved with experience, there are still new things we’re discovering. During a recent webinar with our friends at the RACI Pharmaceutical Science Group, we picked up these tips and wanted to share them with you. Criticality of the …read more »

How do you approach problems?

How do you approach problems? In an ideal world, everything would run smoothly with only very small bumps in the road – enough to keep us interested but not enough to cause major headaches. However, as we all know, the world is seldom ideal. We all have ways to deal with problems that arise in …read more »

Risky Business – risk management for labs

We know that businesses often walk a tightrope between what must be done and what’s possible with the tools and resources they have available. This includes implementing risk management processes. Labs face a particular set of challenges with compliance and maintaining accreditation while still remaining competitive and viable. We’ve put together this list of hints …read more »

November is NATA’s cutoff for ISO/IEC 17025:2017 transition – are you ready?

November 2020 marks NATA’s cutoff for transition to ISO/IEC 17025:2017. While the majority of labs have made alterations to their processes, it seems timely to re-visit what changed in this version. Many organisations  base their business decisions on information and results provided by laboratories. It is critical that the sampling, testing and calibration activities carried out …read more »

Putting together the Measurement Uncertainty puzzle

We hear it from laboratories all the time (quite often accompanied by an eye-roll or a groan!). Measurement Uncertainty (MU) is something that laboratories do because they have to. Because ISO 17025 and ISO 15189 say so. And, of course, because NATA says so. Every measurement is subject to some uncertainty. That’s why the MU process …read more »

Are you using this simple risk management tool?

Risk management. It’s a hot topic right now. There are 1.3 billion (that’s 1,330,000,000) entries on risk management that appear in a simple Google search. Risk can be anywhere, from the minute we wake up in the morning until our eyes close at night. We inhabit a world full of risk and uncertainty and have …read more »

5 Top Tips – how to prepare for remote assessments

The move to carrying out lab assessments remotely has been sudden, with little time for transition. However, considering the cost and time savings, carrying out assessments this way could become the new normal. Maree Stuart, Principal of MAS Management Systems, recently went through this process with one of our clients and shares her experiences. “With …read more »

Happy World Metrology Day!

Not even a pandemic can keep me from writing about World Metrology Day! The theme for 2020 is Measurements for Global Trade. There are multiple global trade agreements that underpin good measurement.  Measurements are critical in ensuring products are fit for purpose. And this includes protecting healthcare workers and the general population from the ‘invisible …read more »

Staying Alive through the Corona crisis

Will your laboratory business be staying alive during the Coronavirus crisis? The news is full of doom and gloom and there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future. People are clearly wanting control and going into survival mode, as the ‘toilet paper wars’ visibly demonstrate. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail and …read more »

Is Measurement Uncertainty worthwhile?

Breaking news! The Guardian says “The only uncertainty is how long we’ll last”. Clearly they haven’t heard about the MAS MU for Testing Labs workshop! Calculating Measurement Uncertainty (MU) can be a daunting prospect for some people. Once they see that it involves numbers, their brain goes numb! That’s why our training course is different.  …read more »

7 tips for choosing the Right Consultant

As I sit here watching the British Conservatives announce their next leader, I got to thinking, how do you know you are choosing the right person for the job? It’s a very important task and one that requires a lot of consideration. Choosing the right consultant to help you realise your objectives and dreams for …read more »

5 tips for negotiations

Summer time is now officially ended in Australia. Over the summer, I had some time to reflect on what summer means. For me, it means holidays, sun, sand, surf, family time, different surroundings and new neighbours. As we normally do, we had a camping trip down the coast and so summer also means negotiating over …read more »

Your Guide to Reading Standards and Finding Loop Holes

The laboratory shall, if relevant, to the extent necessary, maintain records of competence to read standards. Understood? Deciphering these kinds of phrases in standards is not easy. Learning to read and understand them is like learning a new language. But once you get the hang of it, a whole new world of interpretation opens up. …read more »

Corrective action under the microscope

Are your laboratory’s problems prone to re-surface over and over again? Are you spending most of your valuable time and resources tackling a recurring problem in preparation for an audit? You may be convinced that your answers are ‘THE’ solutions to the problems identified in your lab. But perhaps it’s time you took a closer …read more »

What to expect when you’re expecting….a NATA audit

So you’re facing a NATA audit and it’s being done to the new 17025. You’ve probably read various bits and pieces online that have given you an idea about the significant changes. An ISO 9001-friendly structure, new emphasis on impartiality, confidentiality and customer complaints, decision rules, and a lot of stuff about risk management. A …read more »

ISO 17025:2017 transitions made easy

  ISO 17025:2017. You can see it looming ahead of you. You vaguely know that there’s some change you have to grapple with. Or you might have already been through an assessment to the new standard. The question is, how do you conquer the NATA ISO 17025:2017 beast? You know, the Titanic hit the iceberg not …read more »

Design your Lab to be Future-Ready!

In my work, I come across lots of laboratories wanting to improve the design and space in which they work. Let’s face it, improvement is not just about documents! Where do you go to get some professional advice on this important improvement project? ‘Laboratory Architect’ is a very niche profession. It makes sense though – …read more »

3 more ways to make your management system work for you

In my last article, I talked about how you can take steps to simplify your management system. But as a true systems expert, I like to deal with the root cause of a complex problem. The other cause of the creation of a management system is a failure to critically analyse feedback from auditors and …read more »

3 easy steps – make your management system work for you

Many organisations have a quality (or environment, or safety) management system. If you’re in one of these organisations, then I bet you’ve sometimes felt like the system rules your life, rather than you ruling the system. How did it get to be this way? More importantly, how can you change it? It probably got to …read more »

3 ways measurement help us to get around

  It’s a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon and you’ve decided to take a drive. So you hop in your car and off you go. But I bet you’ve never given a thought to how metrology helps you do this.   Let’s take the physical car itself Your car is made so that it can actually …read more »

Time to take a close look at ISO 17025

The progress with updating ISO 17025 has taken a big step forward with the release of a draft for comment. NATA has made the draft document available for comment. The proposed revisions incorporate the requirements of ISO 9001:2015. This means taking a risk management approach to management systems. It also calls for a review and …read more »

The truth is out there

Our social media feeds are filling up with the doom and gloom of celebrities and musicians we lost in 2016. The world has also experienced some tumultuous events through the likes of Brexit, Trump and the long-running war in Syria. But it’s been a great year for science, with some important discoveries and insights into …read more »

How to make NATA happy about your calibrations

The NATA equipment tables might be on their way out! Who will tell me how often to check my gizmo? You’ve been minding your own business and just doing as NATA says to do for equipment calibrations for years.  Now they tell you that you might have to work out your own calibration frequencies and ‘prove’ that they are suitable. …read more »

3 most embarrassing mistakes in metrology

In honour of World Metrology Day, which occurs on May 20th,  we pulled together a list of the three most embarrassing mistakes in metrology in celebration of measurement scientists across the world. They’re sure to make you glad you’re good at your job. Mars Climate Orbiter It was September 1999 and our focus was on the Y2K …read more »

New MAS website!

Welcome to the new MAS website! We’ve scrubbed and dusted and created a new MAS website just for you! As well as a new look and feel, we’ve made it easier for you to find what you need. Buttons on the landing page will take you directly to the information you’re seeking. For example, the …read more »