Proficiency Testing: A Valuable Addition to Your Quality Control

Kyle Kruger, Industry Program Analyst II Collaborative Testing Services, Inc.

Every testing laboratory has a variety of tools available to evaluate its performance. This includes a number of internal checks such as calibration, control charting and well-vetted procedures or methods that can provide a lab with confidence in the repeatability of results. For those labs that are looking to up their quality game, Proficiency Testing is an incredible tool that has multiple uses and benefits by allowing them to see how results correlate with other labs performing the same test. Comparing results to known values gives you reassurance that your instrument is producing reliable results for your product. Additionally, Proficiency Testing builds trust with new clients by assuring them that you maintain a sound quality system that not only meets your needs, but theirs as well. Finally, the data collected by these programs give insight into the overall testing competency of the industry. Using it, we can identify laboratories’ strengths, their weaknesses and improve testing competency and methods for the industry community.

Collaborative Testing Services (CTS) has been providing this ability to participants for over 50 years. We trace our roots to an earlier proficiency testing program at the National Bureau of Standards, now known as NIST. The initial three programs (paper, container board and rubber) that were offered have expanded to eight industry programs as well as a forensics program covering 10 disciplines. Started in 1990, the CTS Metals Program includes a number of fastener offerings, such as wedge and axial tensile, hardness and shear testing.

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