Guest Article: Introduction To The Dubai Accreditation Department
The Dubai Accreditation Department (DAC) is the leading accreditation body working in the Arabian Gulf region. DAC is the official successor of the accreditation unit in the Accreditation and Metrology Section (AMS) of Dubai Central Laboratory Department in the Dubai Municipality. To fulfill the international requirements, DAC became a fully independent accreditation body in May 2005 as per the Organizational Decision by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoom Deputy Ruler of Dubai & Chairman of Dubai Municipality.
DAC provides accreditation services to all types of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) including testing and calibration laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies as per international standards ISO 17025, ISO 15189, ISO 17020, ISO 17021, ISO 17024 and ISO Guide 65.
Till date the DAC has accredited 32 testing and calibration laboratories including two medical laboratories, 17 inspection bodies and 7 certification bodies as per relevant international standards. DAC has also conducted 174 Proficiency Testing Programs for physical, mechanical, chemical and microbiological tests. DAC provides training on accreditation standards and technical requirements. In this regard 24 training courses have been arranged by DAC.
DAC is an associate member in International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and successfully completed ILAC evaluation to becoming first MRA signatory in the Gulf Region. DAC is the only accreditation body in the Gulf Region which is a full member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) & Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC). DAC has signed a MoU with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and an agreement with National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia to collaborate in the field of accreditation and exchange of technical know how.As the only reputed and widely accepted accreditation body in the region, DAC’s accreditation services are available for the whole Gulf region.DAC has defined its policy for cross frontier accreditation.
What is accreditation:
Accreditation is a third-party attestation related to Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks. Such specific tasks may include (but not limited to) certification, inspection, testing and calibration. Accreditation can also be a procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a laboratory/certification body/inspection body is competent to carry out specific tasks.
The consultants’ tribe, always quick to see an opportunity, contributes to the propagation of the six sigma hype by promising astronomical savings and various coloured belts to companies practicing Six Sigma. A few organizations, so swept up in the hype, boasted that even their pantry and cleaning staff flaunted Six Sigma black belts.
Is Six Sigma good for all processes?
Each metric in an organization will have a limiting value which is a function of processes enabling their technology and organizational capability. Only a process re-design will reduce the sigma level below the limiting value. Individual heroism may provide short term benefits, but will not be sustainable without long term investments.
I am not arguing that a Six Sigma certification is absolutely unnecessary. It is crucial to use it, for instance, in space missions and machines that replace critical human organs. However, trying to apply the Six Sigma rigour to all applications and processes is not only impractical but a bad business decision.
Conventional statistics is enough
In my opinion, Six Sigma teams entirely ignore the importance and efficacy of continuous, datadriven improvement. Six Sigma techniques are not fool-proof. Errors are bound to creep in.
The solution lies in discussing and debating organizational problems and opportunities in a data-driven and consistent manner. Calculations needn’t be perfect in every instance. But ignoring math and statistics is a bit like suggesting that one should never start jogging to lose weight unless one’s jogging technique is already perfect. Progress can be made even if our technique is terrible. Not to start at all has far worse repercussions than starting poorly.
In my opinion, the best Six Sigma programs today no longer focus on simple defect reduction. Many don’t even teach Z-scores or process capability indices. Management Gurus such as Deming, Shewhart and Wheeler have realised this. They instead believe in a much more sophisticated and nuanced view of statistics as a tool to drive continuous improvement. Their statistical techniques, if understood well, can yield spectacular solutions to complex problems.
Common mistakes to avoid
Organizations that decide to embark on a Six Sigma project need to a do few reality checks. They should first study their processes and data for obvious variations. Doing so might help them discover simple solutions to problems that may arise. In this way, both time and cost are saved upon. Six Sigma techniques may result in marginal improvements. But the cost involved can make it an unworthy effort.
My parting advice to Six Sigma enthusiasts is to use Six Sigma as the mascot for your organizations quality improvement programme but not to try to track its numerical value or put it on your balance scorecard.
The accreditation process consists of document review of the applicant, conformity of assessment body, on-site assessment of quality system and witness of testing/calibration/inspection/ auditing activities, decision making on the results of assessment.
On-site assessment which is a major element of the accreditation process involves establishing the competence of the entire operations of the CAB; i.e. personnel competence, validity of methodology and of results.
Assessment includes witness assessment. Witness assessment involves witnessing the authorized analysts / inspectors/ auditors while conducting tests/inspections/audits.
Benefits of accreditation:
Accreditation is recognition of competence of a CAB. It gives assurance regarding reliability of testing/inspection results and certifications. It gives international acceptance of results and tests/inspections/certifications subsequently lending a marketing advantage to accredited companies.
Accreditation is highly regarded nationally and internationally as a reliable indicator of technical competence. Regulatory bodies and industries, routinely specify laboratory accreditation for suppliers of testing services. Laboratory accreditation uses criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence, thus assuring customers that the test, calibration or measurement data supplied by the laboratory are accurate and reliable.
Through a system of international agreements, accredited laboratories receive a form of international recognition. This recognition helps facilitate the acceptance of their data in overseas markets. This, in turn, helps manufacturers and exporters to reduce costs by reducing or eliminating the need for re-testing overseas.
Beneficiaries of accreditation:
Regulators, trade facilitators, industry and the general public are the equal beneficiaries of accreditation. Regulators can use accreditation as a basis for policy making, as a means of market regulation and to avoid the need to set up equivalent attestation infrastructure by having confidence in the results.
Trade facilitators can use accreditation as a means to overcome technical barriers to trade, as a technical foundation for government to government trade arrangements. Industries can use accreditation as a means to ensure valid results during development, manufacturing, delivery and distribution of their products and services, to strengthen domestic/international trade, to overcome technical barriers to trade.
The general public can use accreditation as a means to ensure quality of results and to have confidence in them, to ensure regulators’ interests including health and safety, environment, security and other societal protection and performance requirements. The customers can use accreditation bodies as a professional, independent objective referral organization in cases of complaints and disputes.
Accreditation of Medical Laboratories:
Major decisions of clinicians/physicians/doctors are always based on test results provided by the medical laboratories. With great progress in the healthcare sector and continuous introduction of new testing equipments and techniques it was the need to assure the quality of test results provided by the labs. Considering the health sector a major area of concern as it is directly related to humans, DAC recently launched an accreditation scheme for medical laboratories according to international standard ISO 15189.
Accreditation of medical laboratories provides formal recognition to competent laboratories, providing a ready means for clinicians/doctors/patients to identify and select reliable testing services.
Medical laboratories in the region have responded well to the DAC accreditation scheme. DAC has already awarded accreditation to two medical laboratories for various scope including Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Immunology, Microbiology, Serology etc. Accreditation of another twelve laboratories is in progress. For any further information please write to
Ms.Amina Ahamed Mohammed
Director-Dubai Accredition Department(DAC)