AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast

Common Concrete Nonconformities

July 12, 2022 Megan Karr, with AASHTO Accreditation Program Season 3 Episode 10
Common Concrete Nonconformities
AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast
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AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast
Common Concrete Nonconformities
Jul 12, 2022 Season 3 Episode 10
Megan Karr, with AASHTO Accreditation Program

Quality Analyst, Megan Karr joins us to talk about some comment concrete nonconformities and how to resolve them. 

Related Information:

Show Notes Transcript

Quality Analyst, Megan Karr joins us to talk about some comment concrete nonconformities and how to resolve them. 

Related Information:

AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript

Season 3, Episode 10: Common Concrete Nonconformities 

Recorded: June 24, 2022

Released: July 12, 2022

Hosts: Brian Johnson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager and Kim Swanson, Communications Manager at AASHTO re:source

Guest: Megan Karr, Quality Analyst with the AASHTO Accreditation Program 

Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics. 

Transcribed by Kim Swanson and MS Teams 

[Theme music fades in.]

[00:00:00] Announcer: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials, testing, and inspection with people in the know from exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here's our host, Brian Johnson.

[00:00:21] Brian: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q&A. I'm Brian Johnson.

[00:00:24] Kim: And I'm Kim Swanson. And what are we talking about today, Brian?

[00:00:28] Brian: Well, I've gotten no feedback from people on the podcast@aashtoresource.org e-mail, but I have had quite a few people reach out to me either in person or on the phone and tell me how much they enjoyed the episodes that we had, where we covered common nonconformities.

[00:00:46] Kim: Mm-hmm.

[00:00:47] Brian: And how to resolve those nonconformities. So, today I have invited Megan Karr. One of the quality analysts to join us and by the way, former CCRL inspector as well to talk about common concrete nonconformities and how to resolve them.

[00:01:05] Megan: Good morning, Brian and Kim. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:07] Brian: Good morning. Megan. I'm glad you joined us. So, Megan is a Quality Analyst and she deals a lot with the corrective action process with laboratories. You know, like we talked about Pete Holter having encyclopedic knowledge of different topics. And I would say Megan is right up there with Pete. Megan, would you agree with that?

[00:01:26] Megan: No, that's quite a compliment. But I would never put myself on the same level as Pete. Thank you though.

[00:01:33] Brian: Megan really understands a lot of these things. And sometimes when she responds to customers about different nonconformities, she can provide them some additional information that's really helpful to them and trying to figure out what's going on. So, I thought she would be a great person to have on here, to take us through this.  So in the past, we've gone through sort of a ranked list of common nonconformities. But what I wanted to do is ask Megan what her most common issues that she runs into are because then we can look at more of not just like which ones are most common, but which ones are. I guess most interesting or problematic for people. So because some it might be a common issue that's really easy to resolve and that's not that interesting to talk about. So I don't want to waste everybody's time with those kind of things. For now, Megan, let's get into it. What did you figure out should be the most important nonconformity to talk about today?

[00:02:31] Megan: Most important, well, let's say what we see a lot of is for the curing facilities to meet C511, whether that be the. The temperatures of the curing facilities themselves, or seeing a lot with like the remote inspections, maybe the temperature recorder, the records issues with the records themselves.

[00:02:50] Brian: Yeah, so the temperature recorder is a big issue in C511. I think that's probably, I think if we ranked it, that probably would be one of the most common ones as well. So, which aspect of the temperature recorder issues for C 511 do you find to be the most problematic for laboratories?

[00:03:06] Megan: So, that could be whether the temperature is not staying within range. It could be that the temperatures aren't being evaluated every week. The temperature recorder itself is not reading accurately. We see a whole slew of issues related to the temperature recorders for these curing facilities.

[00:03:24] Brian: OK, so let's talk about the issue where the temperature recorder is not functioning properly because that could be a multifaceted issue for the laboratory. What kind of corrective action would you expect to see from that laboratory?

[00:03:38] Megan: So, we see that their temperature recorder is. Just not working during the assessment. We'd be looking for evidence of either the new temperature recorder or the repair that they'll laboratory did for that. Looking for the standardization record on that temperature recorder to show that they checked it in place in their curing facility, whether they're water tank or their moist storage. And then we'd probably also be looking for several weeks of temperature data from that recorder to show that it's being evaluated and is keeping the curing facilities within the temperature range.

[00:04:09] Brian: OK, well, that doesn't sound too hard, but I know what happens. Normally is a laboratory might go about resolving this. Think that they have it right and let's say I'm the laboratory and I send you evidence that I've done everything you've asked. Or everything that it says in C511. It's not your requirement, it's the. It's the standard requirement. But let's say at the very beginning the temperature recorder I bought does not read to the degree specified in the standard. What do you do?

[00:04:44] Megan: So, if we're talking about a chart recorders, there are different chart models that some of the chart recorder manufacturers make where you can change out, you can buy the correct charts and set it for different temperature ranges. If that's not possible, then you wouldn't need a different temperature recorder. So, you definitely want to make sure that your recorder reads to the readability specified in C511.

[00:05:06] Brian: Yeah, that does happen. So, so you mentioned the different charts some sometimes what happens is and I don't know how often you've been seeing this lately, but I know back, back in the day, we would occasionally see monthly recorders being submitted. They don't have the readability required for the time measurements. Are you still seeing that?

[00:05:26] Megan: I did just see this pretty recently. Actually, I'm seeing it less than we used to, so we do have a policy on our website that does indicate why we don't accept these monthly chart recorders. It's just because people try to have these monthly chart recorders and you're able to just sign off on it every single week. So, they sign this maybe four times, but you're not able to actually see the fluctuations to the degree that you would need to. So, we've required that you need to actually have a chart that. Reads at least every week. For your temperature recorder.

[00:06:00] Brian: Yeah, that it seems pretty straightforward when you look at the standard, but I understand there can be some confusion. So, if I'm the laboratory. And I'm trying to resolve at, let's say a bunch of issues with C 511 and I don't even know where to start. I don't know where to find a temperature recorder that is going to meet the requirements. I'm not sure if my reference thermometer, that's the that I used to standardize it in place is the right one, who can I reach out to or what can I do before I start going down this path? It could be the wrong path.

[00:06:36] Megan: If there are that many questions related to the requirements, I mean, I definitely I recommend reaching out to CCRL because they were the ones that performed this assessment. They're going to be able to help maybe figure out for your setup what might work the best. I mean you can certainly contact your quality analyst as well, but CCRL having been the agency that performed the assessment will probably be able to. Help with those questions.

[00:07:02] Brian: Yeah, that's a good point because I think what happens a lot of times is that when the laboratories are looking to take care of something like this and they're not sure, they often go to the quality analyst, which is fine. We do have some information, but the person who was actually there is probably going to have more context. So, I think it is good to reach out to the assessor inspector that perform that audit or assessment. So, that they can get a little more thorough explanation about what might be able to be done to resolve that nonconformity.

[00:07:33] Kim: So, with this Megan, I think you at the beginning talked about common issues with the records as well as temperature in general. So how does the responses to the corrective action, I guess or the documents that you're looking for differ for each of those things as ones more of a record-related thing and ones more of a device thing.  Are the things that you're looking for as a quality analyst for conformance different for those types of things?

[00:07:58] Megan: So, for most findings, if it's related to the temperature recorder, one of the things that labs usually have to submit at a minimum is 3 weeks of temperature recorder data, and from that data, we may end up seeing that temperature issues arise. Or that may have been the original finding in the assessment report. So, from that. That may. That may show that there's changes that need to be made to the laboratories curing facilities. If it's not able to maintain the temperature range of the 21 to 25 degrees Celsius. So if it's falling outside of that range other than just, you know, some small like door opening and Closings, then then we'd be looking for evidence of what changes the laboratory has made to either maybe insulate their tanks or add better temperature controls to their moist storage facility.

[00:08:44] Brian: Now one last thing I want to ask you about curing facilities before we move on to the other one. What’s the most difficult issue to resolve related to temperature facilities that you've seen in an in a report?

[00:08:55] Megan: With the temperature is being out depending on the type of facilities that labs are using moist storage facilities, if they're built against outside walls, can have difficulties. Sometimes keeping that temperature range. That temperature range is so small and with the like the cold outside air, it can be hard to keep that. So, usually, labs want to add some insulation around there and change maybe how the temperatures getting control whether through the water or adding in other air controls.

[00:09:28] Brian: OK, so let's move on to the next nonconformity. What's another common one that you run into?

[00:09:34] Megan: So, record-wise we often see some missing requirements for like slump cones and pressure meters. We see both of those written up a lot. Slump cones being that there's a very specific amount of measurements that have to be on the records that was updated in C143 in the last few years and then pressure air meters just because that's a three-month check. They're like we see that those are often missing.

[00:09:57] Brian: Yeah. Now a record issue where just items are missing that I wouldn't expect a whole lot of corrective action explanation for that, right? So that it's just that probably lack of awareness of the changes, but how difficult has it been for laboratories to conform to the latest requirements of let's say the slump cone measurement requirements.

[00:10:15] Megan: So, I mean, labs have to usually update their templates that they're using for that to ensure that they're going to be taking the specified number of measurements in C 143 for the diameters, heights, and thicknesses.  checking those thicknesses has been something that I think some laboratories might have had some difficulty with their calipers being able to accurately measure that. So, we have seen that come up.

[00:10:36] Kim: So, I know in past episodes that we've done in this vein of corrective actions for common nonconformities.  There's been some discussion of like when is retraining is the right corrective action versus like that was just missed in a record or we need to update the templates or something. So as a quality analyst Megan, how can you determine if one, just like an oversight or ones more systematic - people need to be retrained like, how do you make that distinction? For this in particular or in general?

[00:11:07] Megan: And for a records issue, if it's maybe just related to the frequency and that might just be something that you know they need to train their staff on, making sure they're aware that there's this smaller frequency that you have to do with some of this concrete equipment or if. You know, it may be retraining now that they've for the slump cone that we just discussed, the required number of measurements that labs have to take if they've updated their form, they should be making sure they're whoever's performing those checks. If each technician is checking their Sumner should know how to do that. If they're not all being brought into the lab to check there.

[00:11:42] Brian: Yeah, I'd say that the issue that you mentioned on the pressure meters. With the frequency of those standardizations is a really big issue that people struggle with and I'm not certain that. A lot of times when people try to fix it that they have fully resolved that the matter because it is so difficult because it's not just a lack of training, it's more of a logistical problem. I think for some of the laboratories out there, or testing firms, I should say because some of them are, you know, this is a field test. Have you found any really effective or really meaningful corrective actions that people might want to look at or consider as they try to resolve? Just keeping up with the frequency of the pressure meter standardizations.

[00:12:31] Megan: And so, it's for the pressure meters. You know, a lot of labs try to do just the spot check in the field, which isn't, you know, you can do that in between the required checks, but you need to make sure that you're actually following the annex of C231. And actually you probably want to bring all these pressure meters back to the laboratory. So, so making sure that labs can bring their ammeters back. Get those checked for all of their field technicians. For labs that have a lot of field technicians that definitely seen this come up quite a bit.

[00:13:04] Brian: Yeah. Now, when you talk about spot checks in the field, what does that mean?

[00:13:08] Megan: So in the field, we might see that labs try to use the Cali can quite a bit. That's not something that should be used for the actual check of the air meter. You should be using the tubing and the 5%. The vessel that comes with that to remove water and you know have that weight out.

[00:13:26] Brian: Yeah. Now, do you find that there's still confusion about that point? Because I know that historically there has been quite a bit of confusion where laboratories, you know, you look at the record, there's two readings, 5 and 10%. And often in the list, the Cali can and the equipment being used or maybe they won't even list it. But then when you ask them, they say, oh yeah, we just used the Caliban. Is that still happening?

[00:13:47] Megan: That is still happening, and even with labs using the 5% vessel, C231 does require that at least you know somewhat initially and periodically I believe is the language that C 231 uses to actually determine what that 5% is. So, it may be 5.1% of that air meter, your other air meter maybe it's 5.0% that actually needs to be determined. So, we would be looking for that to be on the record. And that's not really possible to determine what the Cali can is, is one reason why you know that's not as effective there.

[00:14:22] Brian: Yeah. Have you ever seen any other, uh, methods of standardizing the readings on a pressure reader that are maybe are more meaningful than what the typical laboratory is doing?

[00:14:36] Megan: So, some labs will every time will figure out the weight of the water to fill your measure. And then knowing that their air is say between 3 and 6%, they're checking it specifically at those test points, they've calculated out 3% of that water would be, you know, a certain mass. And they're removing specifically that amount of water and seeing that their air meter reads that. So rather than just checking it, spot-checking it at that 5%. They're actually weighing it out at their specific test points. I have seen that.

[00:15:07] Brian: Yeah. And do they do that because those are expected measurements that they see in the field or how did they pick those points?

[00:15:14] Megan: They usually pick the points based on the air that they see in the concrete for their for their area and the projects they're working on.

[00:15:20] Brian: Yeah, that makes sense. I think that's always a good strategy is to try to reflect the values that you're customarily seeing and then you can have more confidence in your measurements, right?

[00:15:28] Megan: Yep.

[00:15:29] Brian: It's all about confidence, Kim. We talk about that all the time.

[00:15:33] Kim: That is my favorite word and I laugh to myself every time you say it and I'm never disappointed in one of these podcast episodes, but you always say it in every episode, I think.

[00:15:44] Brian: Yeah. So, Megan, after beyond this issue, what? What other issues did you want to talk about today?

[00:15:48] Megan: So, procedural-wise…Probably one thing we have been seeing for years, probably one of the top procedural findings we see is for the strike-off of the unit weight measure. I feel like I see that on probably 80, almost 80% of reports. I feel like maybe not that high, but it comes across quite a lot that it's a very specific requirement on how to actually strike off that piece of equipment. And it's just something that. Gets noted repeatedly through the CCRL reports.

[00:16:18] Brian: Hmm. So, what do you think causes that? Why do you think that's so common?

[00:16:21] Megan: So that test requires the strike-off plate, which I think a lot of labs in the field, maybe the technicians might just be caring my strike-off bar, or I know it's a lot of areas unit weight isn't actually required. So, if they're only doing this for the CCRL inspectors then. You know that might be where that issue stemming from if usually, they're performing just the pressure meter that does allow the strike-off bar. You know so much simpler strike-off procedure. But for the inspections, the labs demonstrating that strike off to meet C 138 for unit weight testing and it's just not something that they do as often.

[00:16:59] Brian: OK, so for other procedural findings, what are common ones?

[00:17:03] Megan: Umm, procedural-wise. Probably though for the pressure air meter as well. We might see about the aggregate correction factor.

[00:17:08] Brian: OK, so let's talk about the aggregate correction factor. What goes wrong there?

[00:17:13] Megan: So, it's either that laboratories have not actually determined that for their mix or that if it is, they're available that technicians just aren't aware of how to apply that.

[00:17:22] Brian: Yeah, I feel like we talk about this one or we used to talk about this a lot because of that, that issue where the laboratory either says we don't use one. Or we have been told to use this other one and then you say, well, why are you using that one? And there's a question as to what the basis of that decision, what it was made on, and whether that's valid. So, what do you recommend somebody does if they if they receive this nonconformity that the correction factor has not been determined or correction factor has not been applied?

[00:17:54] Megan: And so, we'd be looking for records of that determination to follow C231, I know in some regions of the country we there might be agencies that do say like you don't need to apply one for this project, but because it's in C231, we still need to know that you're able to figure out what it should be. And I mean, according to C231, it should be applied to your error reading.

[00:18:17] Brian: Yeah. Yeah, it's. I mean, it's pretty straightforward in the method and that's what we'd be looking for. Let's talk about C 173 for a second because I know we've been talking about that quite a bit lately. There's a requirement for standardization of the readings and the in that column on top of the. This is the what is most commonly referred to as the roller meter. And there is some question as to. Whether well I, maybe I'm the only one that has that question as so as to whether people should be doing their measurements…Incrementally, it does say incrementally in the standard, but whether they should be going like 1% at a time or if they should be doing like 1%, two percent, three percent, 4%. So Megan, can you layout that issue for the listeners?

[00:19:07] Megan: Yes. So, for C173, if you're checking the readings on your neck, you should be filling it up the whole meter up to the bottom, reading 9% exactly, and then you just need to add water in increments of 1% at a time and see that you know, when you added one. Now it's reading eight when you're at the next one. Now it's reading seven. I mean, if you find what's not really clearly specified in there is if you would see that it's reading slightly off, you do want to make sure before you add that next amount of water that you know you're starting at 8.0 and then the next time you add 1. That it's reading. If 7.0 so. There is that zero point 1%. Allowance, but the air meters usually only read to 0.25% is where there's often some question on how they can accurately take these readings here on the neck. 

[00:19:57] Brian: Yeah, I think that's the crux of it. And it's not even .25, it's a quarter, right? It's a quarter-percent increment. So, .25 sounds pretty good like that seems pretty precise, right? But we're talking about a quarter of a percent. So, all of a sudden you have all this variability that's permissible. Well, when you're doing your readings, you can only read to a certain amount. But then when you look at the standardization process, it has to be to the nearest what?

[00:20:25] Megan: The 10th of a percent.

[00:20:26] Brian: 1/10 of a percent. Right. So, you don't even have 1/10. You're looking at 1/4 percent and you're supposed to accurately determine the reading to 1/10 of a percent. From a user’s perspective, that's not possible.  I think what we've been discussing internally is this is really asking the laboratories to figure out something that's kind of hard for you to actually see with your eyes. So. So then you will kind of wonder what's the point and what can a laboratory be expected to do reasonably? And I think that laboratories are doing their best with this. I don't want to lay that out and make it sound like this is just impossible. They are doing it. They are able to show that they've gone through this process, but we still are kind of scratching our heads about whether there should be a change to C173 to allow for like a more reasonable. Uh, standardization process.

[00:21:21] Megan: And the AASHTO standard T196 does have. It has the same steps as C173, but then it also has an additional standardization check where you would be checking it incrementally once you to check it over three different ranges. I think you can pick the test points I think, but you could check it from 5 to 2% or something and you would fill it up and determine like the mass amount. So, it's a little more specific weighing it out, but that's just an addition to just doing that quick spot check of. 1% readings and seeing how your neck looks.

[00:21:56] Brian: Yep.

[00:21:58] Kim: As someone who does not know what you're talking about at all, this has been a very interesting conversation for me. I'm like what is happening, but I think that it probably makes sense to people that know what you're talking about, so hopefully, that's helpful for them.

[00:22:11] Brian: Let's hope that's always the hope. When we go into these conversations and I'm not sure.

[00:22:19] Kim: People can let us know by emailing podcast@aashtoresource.org.

[00:22:23] Brian: That's right.  So, Megan, let's talk about some equipment records because we've talked about a couple of procedural issues and some complications with the field equipment. But as far as calibration records are concerned, what are the most common issues that you see laboratories running into?

[00:22:42] Megan: So, like for lab equipment, we might see that the compression machine record doesn't meet all the requirements in E4. We also see that. The bearing blocks and the retainers rings are using the pad caps that they're not being checked regularly for planeness. Let me see that for both of those.

[00:23:02] Brian: OK, so let's talk about the calibration of the compression machine. According to E4, is it apparent to the laboratory what the requirements are in the standard, in C39, when they look at that is it clearly laid out that it has to be calibrated in conformance with ASTM E4.

[00:23:25] Megan: Yeah, it's. Pretty specified in C39 to meet that.

[00:23:25] Brian: Asa laboratory, since it is clearly laid out in E4, what can they do to make sure that that calibration is carried out in accordance with the E4 when they reach out to their calibration provider?

[00:23:41] Megan: And then they should check that their calibration provider when they perform compression machine checks that you know they can meet their requirements in E4, I mean you should be asking your calibration agency that once they provide the calibration report, I would compare that report to the report section and E4 and just see if it looks like they did document all of this information. There has to be a clear statement that the calibration was done in the accordance with E4 and the edition year that they followed. So, I mean that's a. A good sign that the laboratory thought the calibration agency did, you know. Try to follow E 4.

[00:24:20] Brian: I think that communication is really critical. Uh, that the laboratory reaches out to first of all like you said, they have to make sure that that calibration provider is actually capable of doing that. There is not a 17025 requirement for that particular calibration. In the AASHTO Accreditation Program, we don't make them do that, but one thing they can do is they can go and look at the calibration providers. If that calibration provider is accredited and see the scope of their accreditation and that might help them make a decision if that information is available. But if they have a provider that they already like and they've got a good experience with, they could always just ask them, hey, you know, are you aware of E4? Do you, do you have E4? Do you know what the requirements are? Because I need it to be in conformance with that. And then they should expect that to be in conformance with that. And if it's not, then they need to make sure that's very clear and that the calibration provider can update the record to get an into conformance before they carry out that activity. What now, when it's already done though, what do they do?

[00:25:23] Megan: What happens when we see these findings is that the lab usually has to reach out to calibration agency at that point and if the calibration agency did say, you know, we intended to meet E 4 and maybe just a few things are missing, then usually the calibrator can update the record with a couple of views, additional things. If they were just missing some simple documentation of some things. But if it was more that the verification wasn't actually done in accordance with E4 like the range wasn't checked as specified or you know the number of measurements or something like that. Then the calibration need to see may have to come back and do that. Again, for the lab that something that the lab has to work out with their calibrator, if they, you know, are specifying E 4.

[00:26:06] Brian: Now what? What's more common that you see? Do you see that that it's more of a, you know, minor amendments need to be made to an existing calibration record or that the whole calibration process needs to be carried out again?

[00:26:17] Megan: It's usually just that minor updates get made to the record.

[00:26:20] Brian: OK, that's good to know. Because if I'm a laboratory and I'm running into that situation, I may not need to jump to the conclusion that, oh, I need to get this done all over again so that that could save me some frustration and some expense and some time, right?

[00:26:34] Megan: Definitely.

[00:26:06] Brian: OK, great. So, what else are you seeing that is a common nonconformity?

[00:26:40] Megan: They might see, you know, some records for thermometers, whether it be their reference thermometer, their temperature recorder, their concrete field thermometers. We do see. You know, findings for those. Any other reference equipment like CCRL is looking at. Making sure that anything you use to check your field equipment so labs might just be using. Some rulers or calipers to check those field equipment and making sure that there's documentation that shows that they've checked those items.

[00:27:11] Brian: Yeah, that can be an issue. Especially you know CCRL is out there performing the inspections. According to the standards and the AASHTO Accreditation Program has a lot of policies and procedures on that are in addition to that. And that's one thing I often wonder about is how confusing is that for the laboratory to go through that process when they're dealing with CCRL and then all of a sudden, they say, Oh well, on top of this, you have to meet all these other requirements and a laboratory is totally new to the program. That may be kind of confusing for them. So, what do you recommend? If I'm a new customer coming into the accreditation process. How do I wrap my head around all this and find out what's available?

[00:27:52] Megan: It's like if you have thermometer questions, it's probably best to reach out to your Quality Analyst and we can. Help figure out for your scope may be what makes the most sense for your laboratory? Uh, you know concrete. Usually, you do want to end up having a reference thermometer available to you to actually do, like the temperature for yourself. That's something that has to be done for the curing facilities every six months, and it has to be done on-site. So usually, labs won't have some out labs will have a calibration, you just come in and do that for them every six months. But the way C 511 is worded, most labs should have a reference thermometer available for at least that. If they are sending other thermometers out to be calibrated. Something that we can help explain to you what your reference thermometer should meet. If you, you know, give us a call and we can help go through that those requirements.

[00:28:27] Brian: Yeah, that's a good point because most laboratories aren't operating just on one discipline. You know, they could have a concrete inspection but then they might also be doing soil, asphalt, aggregate, other tests that they have to consider all those other requirements before they make a purchase of a new reference thermometer. So, I think that's a good point to bring that up. One last question I have for you. There is. What do you find to be the biggest pain points for laboratories that are going through the accreditation process after a concrete report is issued?

[00:29:18] Megan: Just that there's, like, back and forth, you know, resolving findings. You know, if labs submit something and they don't understand why maybe it didn't fully resolve the note as written. That happens pretty regularly that we have to continue to work on the item.

[00:29:32] Kim: And I think a good point here as well to make as we're ending, I think we're ending. I've been wrong before, but I think that we're ending another good point to make for laboratories is a reminder that these nonconformities the goal isn't just to appease the quality analyst, right, it's to get to the root of the problem and these nonconformities could be impacting the test results that they are providing to their customers and their clients, right? So, like this is not just I need to do this to check these boxes for accreditation. It's I want to make sure that we are. Providing the most accurate and reliable results and having confidence in with the test results that they're doing. So, I think that's an important thing that can kind of get lost, especially if you're maybe newer to the accreditation process. It may feel like these are hoops you have to jump through or boxes you have to check, but the goal isn't to appease the quality analyst, it's to improve the quality of the testing results.

[00:30:29] Megan: That was, yeah, very well put, Kim.

[00:30:31] Kim: My thank you. It's not my first rodeo here.

[00:30:33] Brian: Yeah, I  think one of the other issues that we run into is a lot of times customers are. Not only there are they thinking about and I and I know there's a problem when I see this these words in a corrective action response to a follow-up from, let's say Megan is working with the laboratory and they submit something and she responds. OK, well, thank you for that. But you know, the requirement is this, and please see section, whatever it is from this standard for more details because there might be a whole paragraph or maybe multiple paragraphs. Defining what is required. And sometimes the laboratory. Then we'll get in touch with me or even respond in the file saying I don't know what I need to do to appease you or something like that. It's like it's nothing to do with the quality analyst. Megan is simply making sure that the laboratory is in conformance with the standard. And I feel like if you're a laboratory and you're going through the process and you're feeling like you're either, there's another. Hot term that I don't like to see target being targeted by the quality analyst or you're trying to please the quality analyst, right? If that's your mindset, you need to snap out of that.

[00:31:54] Brian: Because it's the counterproductive one and you're never going to get through this process without a ton of frustration and you may not ever get out of the process at all if you're not looking at the standards and not being objective about it because that's what we're trying to do to improve quality overall, improve quality at your laboratory. Get everybody on the same page. Be consistent. All these things require an objective. Look at these at where your laboratory is going in and where you are after you're through the process. So, I hope hopefully that resonates with somebody out there who's listening to this, but it a lot of times it's good to talk to other people that you know too when you're going through. This is just as like a sanity check, like, hey, I'm frustrated. 

[00:32:41] Brian: What have you experienced or what are you doing? Or if you're part of a larger organization or let's say an industry committee or something or like? ASTM or ACI or some other local group that you might be involved in, it's good to kind of reach out to some other people and say, hey, how are you resolving this or what kind of issues are you running into or have you found providers of whatever services that have worked for you because those are some those are some things that we're not going to be able to answer necessarily for the lab if they say tell me which thermometer to buy? Well there's like 1000 thermometers out there and a ton of different vendors. We're not going to say you have to buy this one or this one has been found to be acceptable. That's not really appropriate for us, as the accreditation body and it's not really our role, but you can talk to other people in the industry about that and they can probably steer you in the right direction. So, communications a big one. I know sometimes I also hear from people, I'm not hearing back promptly enough. And that does happen if you are running those issues, you know, pick up the phone and if you pick up the phone, make sure you leave a message. Because that happens a lot. Megan, how often does that happen? Where you just have hang-ups.

[00:33:55] Megan: Quite often.

[00:33:57] Brian: Yeah, and then I'll get a response that says. Nobody will pick up the phone. Well, well, sometimes that's true because we do have meetings and we do have other people. You know, we might be on the phone with someone else, or we may be off or you may be in a different time zone. Or just in a meeting. I mean, there's all kinds of things going on, so always leave a message. Emails are good, but if it's really an urgent situation, reach out to one of us. It plus you can call me if you're not getting through the quality analyst, that's always possible. It happens a lot, actually. If somebody can't get ahold of a quality analyst, they may call me or they call Amy and that's good because that lets us know that there is a sense of urgency too.

[00:34:37] Kim: Is there anything else that you think we need to cover, Megan, or do we cover everything in this episode?  

[00:34:43] Megan: I think we covered by decent bit.

[00:34:45] Brian: I'm glad that we could have you on here today. Megan, thank you for your participation. I think it's always good for the laboratories who work with different people, especially with the quality analysts to be able to talk to them at one point or another. Because sometimes when you're dealing with someone in this process, it feels a little cold. It feels a little sterile and it feels a little like the tone isn't quite right. Right. So I think it's good for people to hear Megan today on the podcast and that when they when they have questions, they can reach out and and talk to her and ask her some questions. So. So Megan, thanks again for being on the podcast and we hope everybody enjoyed it.

[00:35:28] Megan: Thanks.

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