Wednesday 27 March 2013

Lab accreditation achieved

The Technical Services division of Keighley Laboratories has achieved world-class Nadcap accreditation for a Materials Testing Laboratory (MTL), a status recognised by the majority of global aerospace primes as a mark of quality assurance excellence. The West Yorkshire Company also gained coveted Merit grade, which rewards superior performance in Nadcap audits and reduces subsequent audit frequency. Accreditation has also prompted affirmation and prolongation of its Airbus approval, the aircraft manufacturer having adopted the Nadcap programme for its global supply chain.
 Keighley Labs' MD Debbie Mellor, Tim Clegg, Peter Hanson and Matthew Mellor
As one of the few Nadcap-accredited MTL facilities in the UK, Keighley Labs has been successfully assessed for the evaluation of aerospace welds, tensile, impact and bend testing, metallographic and micro indentation hardness procedures, and specimen preparation and machining. Combined with UKAS accredited testing and certification to many international standards and Civil Aviation Authority approval of in-house weld specimen supervisors, this confirms the company as a centre of excellence for weld testing, at a time when there is a Europe-wide shortage of the necessary expertise.

“Achieving Nadcap accreditation is not easy; it is one of the ways in which the aerospace industry identifies those who excel in superior special processes. Companies such as Keighley Laboratories go above and beyond achieving Nadcap accreditation, to obtain Merit status, and they should be justifiably proud of that,” says Joe Pinto, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Performance Review Institute, which administers the Nadcap programme. “We are determined to support continual improvement in the aerospace industry, by helping companies such as Keighley Labs become even more successful.”

Established in 1990 by key aerospace industry and US government representatives, Nadcap represents a concerted, cooperative effort to improve quality, while reducing costs, throughout the global aerospace and defence sectors. It defines a standardised approach to quality assurance and establishes requirements for accreditation, improving performance throughout the supply chain, utilising expert auditors to ensure familiarity with special processes and conducting technically superior in-depth quality audits. With most aerospace prime contractors and secondary tier suppliers now adhering to Nadcap, accreditation is vital for securing subcontracting opportunities in this sector, as well as in quality-minded markets like nuclear, marine, defence and rail, with more than half of accredited companies reporting an upturn in sales and new business.

“This is an important breakthrough for the company, since it raises our profile and reputation within the aerospace industry and enables us to obtain greater recognition for our expertise in weld and materials testing,” says Keighley Labs’ MD, Debbie Mellor. “It helps us to retain existing customers within the Northwest Aerospace Alliance and beyond, establishes our technical credentials for fresh market opportunities in other industries and paves the way for further export business in weld testing and other special processes.”

The Keighley Labs’ Nadcap application, which was supported by numerous key aerospace customers and Airbus itself, involved Divisional Technical Services Director, Matthew Mellor, Senior Metallurgist, Peter Hanson, and Quality Manager, Tim Clegg, in a thoroughly intensive programme.

Although modern composites are increasingly used in aviation, metal is still the most prevalent aircraft construction material, including but not limited to steel, aluminium, stainless steel, nickel and titanium alloys. The company’s in-depth weld assessment and inspection expertise, across all metallic materials and current manual and automatic welding methods, will ensure that welded joints comply with the highest aerospace and equivalent specifications.

The company already has quite a number of aviation primes and tier 1, 2 and 3 supply companies amongst its customer base, as well as overseas defence and aerospace suppliers, and is confident of using Nadcap Merit status to leverage extra domestic and export business.

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