The Importance of ISO 17025 Accreditation in Torque Tool Calibration
Torque tool calibration is not a typical conversation topic around the dinner table in most American homes, yet perhaps it should be. An October 2016 report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) noted that from 2009 to 2015, 45 air traffic accidents and incidents occurred that were the direct result of improper torque applied to engine bolts and nuts during aircraft maintenance.
The report highlights three incidents in particular that involved in-flight crankshaft failures that results in serious injuries. Given the approximately 87,000 flights that the National Air Traffic Controllers Association estimates cross the U.S. each and every day, the thought that there could be literally thousands of lives at risk every day for improperly applied torque on aircraft engines is very scary.
And this is only one industry: industrial torque wrenches are used in many industries such as wind turbine installation and maintenance, oil refining and petrochemicals, pipelines, and commercial construction. All told, the number of lives that most likely rely on torque tool calibration at any given moment in this country is probably in the millions. Maybe this should be the only topic of conversation around the dinner table!
In order to address the clear safety implications involved in the calibration of industrial equipment in general and torque tool calibration in specific, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) came up with the ISO/IEC 17025 “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.” This standard is jointly published by ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), was first developed in 1999, was revised in 2005, confirmed in 2010, and is in the process of another revision now that began in 2015.
The current review is intended to take into account updates in laboratory technology and procedures as well as to add updates to related ISO standards, most notably (9001) on quality management, and to add more focus on information technology.
If your business requires the use of an industrial torque wrench, it’s worth making sure that your wrench is properly calibrated by an organization, like Aztec Bolting Services, whose torque wrench calibration equipment is ISO/IEC 17025 certified.
The certification ensures that the organization has a formalized, written quality control program; formally trains staff in ISO/IEC 17025 processes; and has been audited and approved by an independent accreditation group. The lives that depend on your torque wrenches may literally be riding on it.