Taiwan Accreditation Foundation (TAF) has successfully signed the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for Proficiency Testing Provider (PTP) on behalf of Taiwan.
“Accredited once, Accepted everywhere” is the main goal of mutual recognition agreements developed by international accreditation bodies. The main purpose for Taiwan establishing accreditation systems is based on international standards and signs various international mutual recognition agreements to assist our industries in eliminating or lowering technical trade barriers when exporting products, and reduces the time and cost for companies in Taiwan to carry out repeated testing or certification as required by importing countries.
In May of this year, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) announced that Proficiency Testing Provider (PTP) would be included in the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA). TAF (NOTE 1) attended on behalf of Taiwan the “2019 ILAC-IAF Joint Annual Meetings” held on Oct. 29, 2019 in Frankfurt became one of the first accreditation bodies across the world to sign the MRA for PTP. In the past, Taiwan successfully signed four ILAC MRAs: testing laboratory, calibration laboratory, inspection body and medical laboratory. This time the MRAs expand to include PTP, which not only expands the scope of the signed MRA for accreditation body in Taiwan, but also allows the PTPs recognized by TAF to reach a new milestone in internationalization and stay abreast of global trends.
Mr. Wang Chung-Lin, president of TAF, signed the ILAC MRA (NOTE 2) for PTP on behalf of Taiwan on Oct. 14, 2019. The MRA between Taiwan and the members of the ILAC officially expanded to include the scope of PTP. This means that the activity results of the 17 PTPs accredited by TAF (NOTE 3) will be recognized and accepted in 100 accreditation bodies of over 103 economies throughout the world, at the same time, choices of recognized proficiency testing and quality assurance in more than 58,000 testing laboratories and 11,000 calibration laboratories are provided, enabling Taiwan to contribute towards promoting the acceptance of product testing and removing technical trade barriers.
The main affairs of PTP are through comparisons between different laboratories to hold proficiency testing activities to evaluate the performance of the participating laboratories. A laboratory’s participation in proficiency testing can be used to evaluate its performance in specific testing and measuring, monitor its performance in testing and calibration, and at the same time identify its issues through the data on the proficiency testing activities. The issues include inappropriate/valid testing or measuring procedures, understanding and monitoring the effectiveness of the staff training, understanding the calibration status of the instruments, and taking improvement measures when necessary. In addition, the results of proficiency testing can be used to establish validity and comparability of testing or measuring methods, increasing customer confidence in the testing and measurement results of the laboratory, or to identify and understand the differences between the laboratories, and implement appropriate training activities for participating laboratories accordingly. At the same time, the proficiency testing activities can be used to confirm the degree of uncertainty claimed by the laboratories.
In light of the importance of proficiency testing activities for laboratories, TAF has started promotion and provision of Proficiency Testing Provider accreditation scheme services since 2007, and its accreditation is based on the international standard of ISO/IEC 17043. Up until now there are 17 PTPs that have been accredited, and the scope of the proficiency testing activities includes measurement, calibration, medicine, etc. The accreditation of PTPs, apart from promoting compliance with the technical abilities of PTPs in Taiwan to international standards, can apply the resulting data to improve and maintain the quality and technical capacity of the compliance institutions that use the results of the proficiency testing activities.
Looking to the future, TAF will continue to follow the latest development of international standards and expand Taiwan’s scope of MRAs signed with ILAC and International Accreditation Forum (IAF). In addition to facilitating international accreditation bodies’ acceptance of the certificates and reports issued by conformity assessment bodies in Taiwan (e.g. laboratories and inspection bodies, PTPs, reference material producers, management system certification bodies, product certification bodies, validation and certification bodies, and personnel certification bodies), we hope to further assist Taiwan’s industries in lowering technical trade barriers and expanding the export markets.
Note 1: Taiwan Accreditation Foundation (TAF) promotes the international accreditation of various domestic certification bodies, inspection bodies and laboratories in various fields, establishes evaluation standards for the quality and technical capacity of domestic certification bodies, inspection bodies and laboratories, and integrates the professional human resource assessment and applies proficiency testing to accredit various certification bodies, inspection bodies and laboratories, so as to enhance their quality and technical capacity. We also dedicate ourselves to cultivating talents, promoting information, strengthening accreditation credibility, tapping into global markets and increasing Taiwan’s competitiveness.
Note 2: ILAC MRA International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) is an international accreditation body that provides accreditation to certification laboratories, inspection bodies, PTPs and reference material producers globally; its members include accreditation bodies around the world and their stakeholders. Accreditation bodies around the world go through a series of peer assessment activities to ensure their capability and enhance the acceptance of cross-border products and services through signing the agreements. The purpose of the ILAC MRA is to build an international framework to support international trade through the elimination of technical trade barriers. ILAC is committed to its goal of “Accredited once, Accepted everywhere” for products and services.
Note 3: List of PTPs accredited by Links