ASTM International contributes to best laboratory practices through a number of programs that address testing, training and more.
Laboratories worldwide can compare, check, and if need be, improve their performance by participating in the ASTM International Proficiency Testing Programs.
With offerings in electrical insulating liquids, engine coolants, metals, plastics and much more, ASTM’s PTP statistical quality assurance programs provide samples for each test cycle, method instructions and electronic submittal forms. The resulting reports, which code lab test results for confidentiality, contain statistical data analysis, charts plotting test results and more.
The programs help laboratories monitor their strengths and weaknesses, compare test results and statistical parameters with other participants and demonstrate proficiency for laboratory accreditation.
From coal chemistry to corrosion and petroleum to plastics, the ASTM International Technical and Professional Training program offers courses for lab technicians and other professionals to better understand and perform ASTM test methods and work with ASTM standards. Courses are held in various locations or at a client’s site.
ASTM International is currently ramping up a program that will offer certification services for products and personnel. Responding to requests from stakeholders for third-party demonstration of compliance to ASTM standards, ASTM staff anticipates that the first certification program will launch in 2011.
The Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory provides services that assist more than 1,100 laboratories in maintaining their capabilities. CCRL offers inspections for laboratories that test cement, concrete, aggregate, steel reinforcing bars, pozzolan and masonry using ASTM International standards in these areas, and reviews the lab’s procedures, practices, equipment and facilities. CCRL also offers Proficiency Sample Programs based on tests performed by participating laboratories that can be used to check testing consistency, to help identify equipment or procedural problems, and to evaluate test quality between laboratories. The programs support accreditation by outside groups.
The ASTM Interlaboratory Study Program assists technical committees with aspects of creating the precision and bias sections required in ASTM test methods. The ASTM ILS staff can help a committee design an interlaboratory study, identify potential samples, solicit volunteer laboratories, collect and analyze data, compile information for the research report, produce a draft precision statement and more. Once a work item has been registered, new ILS programs can be initiated.
Standards for Quality and Statistics
An ASTM technical committee whose work applies to diverse industry sectors in developing standards is Committee E11 on Quality and Statistics. The committee promotes the appropriate use of statistical and quality control principles and methods in ASTM International standards, and it develops standards to assist ASTM committees in this work. E11’s standards include practices for conducting interlaboratory studies (E691) and ruggedness tests (E1169) as well as reporting uncertainty (E2554) and identifying statistical procedures (E1488), among others.
Numerous standards from ASTM International technical committees cover many aspects of laboratory practice and operation. From practices about preparing and using reference materials to guides for minimum requirements for laboratories that test construction materials, ASTM standards guide numerous industry sectors in their laboratory work and interactions.