Quality Assurance Program
SGS is committed to providing quality services in the area of geotechnical engineering. To ensure to others that our work is performed in a cost-effective, controlled manner that can be documented and defended, SGS has adopted a Quality Assurance Program (QAP). Our QAP has been planned and developed in conjunction with our business functions, and it is based on generally accepted professional practice and current regulatory requirements. It provides the policies, assigns the responsibilities, and describes the governing standards that affect the quality of professional services provided by SGS. As such, our QAP applies to all related field and laboratory activities and to all individuals who perform them.
SGS’s Materials Laboratory, located in Bishop, California, participates in five separate laboratory assessment programs in compliance with our QAP. Each program is administered by a government agency or by an independent organization to avoid bias and any conflict of interest, and they include the following:
- The Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory (CCRL) for assessment in compliance with ASTM International test methods and procedures (every 2 years);
- The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for accreditation in compliance with AASHTO test methods and procedures (annually);
- The AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) for assessment in compliance with ASTM and AASHTO test methods and procedures (every 2 years);
- The Division of the State Architect (DSA) for certification to perform inspection and testing on State-funded school construction (every 4 years);
- The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for certification to perform inspection and testing on roadway infrastruction construction in compliance with California Test Methods (annually).
Regarding laboratory assessment programs, comprehensive accounts of how our procedures, equipment and facility are compared with standard requirements. Assessors check critical equipment dimensions, operating characteristics, and they watch SGS technicians demonstrate test procedures. Equipment maintenance logs and personnel records are reviewed for conformance to standards defined by the National Institue of Statndards and Technology (NIST). The goal of the inspection program is to provide a consistent and fair evaluation in order for our clients to have confidence that SGS testing services are of high quality and that ASTM and Caltrans standards are being applied as intended.
SGS also participates in three proficiency/reference sample programs administered by CCRL, AMRL and Caltrans for concrete, aggregates and soils. Samples from these from these programs are tested in our materials laboratory referring to ASTM and Caltrans test methods, and the results are reported within five weeks. After review, CCRL, AMRL and Caltrans issue a final reports comparing SGS results to other participating laboratories. Any significant deviations are confidentially reported to SGS.
General Overview of Quality Procedures
The SGS QAP includes training and test procedure monitoring for all laboratory and field personnel. In-house training programs are conducted by licensed supervising civil engineers and certified laboratory managers, and all personnel are periodically enrolled in seminars and training sessions. Additionally, our QAP includes duplicate testing to verify testing personnel proficiency and test result repeatability. For quality control, all test results and test reports are reviewed and approved by the supervising civil engineer prior to submittal. Finally, all laboratory and field equipment are routinely calibrated by qualified professional calibration services.