Accreditation is a voluntary, third party-reviewed process. As part of accreditation, a laboratory's quality management system is thoroughly evaluated on a regular basis to ensure continued technical competence and compliance with ISO 17025. Laboratory accreditation can only be granted by an accreditation body, or AB. Although there are a number of accreditation bodies in the world, customers should choose calibration and testing laboratories accredited by ABs having an MRA with ILAC.
Certification : third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons.
Accreditation : third-party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.
Reference : ISO/IEC 17000:2004 - Conformity assessment - Vocabulary and general principles
In order for accreditation bodies to recognize each others' accreditations, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) developed a standard for accreditation bodies: ISO/IEC 17011. ABs having a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (or MRA) with ILAC agree to maintain conformity with the current version of 17011 and to regularly submit themselves and their own quality management systems to peer review. By complying with ISO 17011, ABs demonstrate that they are capable of accrediting testing and/or calibration laboratories to the ISO 17025 standard. In essence, the ILAC arrangement guarantees that test results are mutually acceptable between different governmental and regulatory organizations on regional, national and international levels and that these test results meet the same minimum standards for quality regardless of the lab's accreditation body. Each member of the agreement recognizes other members' accredited laboratory as if they themselves had performed the calibration because the MRA ensures that each laboratory is actually complying with the same minimum standards.
The increasing popularity of ISO 17025 as a means of insuring product quality has spawned a flurry of demand for compliance.
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