The aim of the Quality Assurance Service is to support all concerned projects at SCK•CEN with assistance in all fields related to Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Quality Management or other Management Systems such as Environmental, Safety or Health Management Systems. In order to achieve this a documented Quality System, available on the Intranet, has been laid down and has been implemented. The control of the documented system, the evaluation of its implementation through internal audits, the review of its effectiveness through management reviews and the continuous improvement of the system are the main responsibilities of the QA-service. The service consists of the QA Manager, a QA Officer and a Secretary assisted by QA coördinators in every QA-section taking care of the local QA-activities.
The major objective of the Quality Assurance Management at SCK•CEN is that everybody incorporates the Quality Philosophy in his or her daily work, thus increasing both the internal and the external customer satisfaction.
The Management of SCK•CEN wants to maintain and further develop a quality system at a high level and has defined its quality policy in the following highlights:
- Attracting young, capable, highly skilled and university trained employees
- Investing in the continuous modernization and innovation of its laboratories and scientific and technical equipment
- Permanent training and education of the employees
- A consistent policy of continual quality improvement
- Fostering a quality culture throughout the whole organisation
Objectives of the quality system
SCK•CEN aims at obtaining the accreditation of all its laboratories and certification of its process activities according to the current national and international standards (the ISO standards ISO 17025 and ISO 9001 serve as a basis).
Launched in 1993, Quality Assurance at SCK•CEN focuses on three main tasks:
- Elaborating a modular QA system based on international standards
- Increasing the quality of our scientific output
- Improving the quality of our internal way of working and information
The main reason for setting up this quality system was external and due to an internationalisation of trade and therefore the growing importance of e.g. test reports for products. In the free market industrial customers needed test reports covered by a QA-system which could be recognised as technical passports (e.g. the analysis of MOX rods).
In the regulatory sector, the federal government needed recognised laboratories to perform analyses in accordance with QA standards as a part of product control or inspection of goods for free trade according to EC directives on environment and security (e.g. radioactvity in milk powder after the Chernobyl accident).
However, this merely external reason was not the only one. Answering the question "How can a research centre prove to customers or to the public in general that it is providing high quality analyses, high quality products and processes and high quality research?" is very difficult since the product of those activities is not tangible. In order to guarantee the quality of our research and services, we decided to apply for an accreditation or certification according to international quality assurance standards.
Contact: Thomas Peter