By Paul Doherty
The chemistry laboratory in PG&E’s Applied Technology Services (ATS) organization has achieved International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 accreditation.
PG&E is among the first energy companies to earn this accreditation, awarded by the independent, internationally recognized American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), and an acknowledgement that the chemistry laboratory demonstrates technical competence and the ability to produce precise and accurate test data.
“ISO 17025 is the single most recognized standard for calibration and testing laboratories around the world, so this is an outstanding achievement and a reflection of the commitment to excellence of our chemistry lab employees,” said Pat Hogan, senior vice president of Electric Operations at PG&E.
“Their work is preventive in nature, so for example, when they do tests on a transformer, they look for indicators of any potential issues,” he added. “If they find any, we take corrective action to keep the transformer in sound operating condition, ensuring that we provide customers with safe and reliable service every day.”
Accredited test methods include polychlorinated biphenyls and combustible gases in dielectric oil, reflecting the large amount of work the ATS laboratory manages for electric transformer repair yards and Power Generation asset management programs.
During the accreditation journey, the ATS chemistry laboratory realized numerous workflow and cost efficiencies while producing a high quality product. The endeavor took considerable work and commitment, utilized the company’s Corrective Action Program (CAP) process, and was ultimately made easier thanks to stringent quality assurance requirements already in place.
The ATS organization in San Ramon supports all PG&E lines of business, and follows the quality management system that was implemented to support the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, PG&E’s nuclear power plant in Avila Beach.
Prior to pursuing accreditation, the chemistry laboratory performed a self-assessment against the 66-page A2LA checklist that outlines each ISO 17025 requirement.
PG&E documented how it met each ISO 17025 requirement, and where it identified gaps, it initiated an issue in CAP to document the deficiency. The company then put corrective actions in place prior to requesting that A2LA perform their official onsite assessment of its program.
Closing these gaps offered the laboratory the opportunity to improve and standardize processes and positioned ATS laboratories to add additional test and calibration services to its scope of accreditation.
In May, assessors conducted a thorough evaluation of all factors in the laboratory that affect the production of test data including the technical competence of staff; the validity and appropriateness of test methods; the traceability of measurements and calibrations to national standards; the suitability, calibration and maintenance of test equipment; and the handling and transportation of test items, among others.
“The chemistry lab did exceedingly well with only a handful of minor deficiencies noted, which were quickly remedied through our corrective action program,” Hogan said. “CAP is an integral part of our safety culture at PG&E, and it was instrumental in our success in achieving this accreditation.”
All PG&E employees have access to CAP and are encouraged to submit any item that improves the safe, reliable, efficient and compliant operation of its business.
Moving forward, this accreditation enables the ATS chemistry lab to make continuous improvements of its quality management system, to reduce costs and to create efficiency by ensuring that all staff follows superb and continually evolving work procedures.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.