Nadcap accreditation boosted the business of Keighley Laboratories

Debbie Mellor, MD Keighley Labs
Debbie Mellor, MD Keighley Labs

The Technical Services division of the Yorkshire metallurgical specialist Keighley Laboratories was awarded world-class Nadcap accreditation for a Materials Testing Laboratory (MTL) last year, in the process achieving coveted Merit Status for a superior audit performance, and was recently granted a reaccreditation. As a result of this achievement and a consequent uplift in its worldwide industry profile, the division recorded an increase in sales in excess of 30%, with orders coming from as far afield as China. It is also reporting new business from the United Arab Emirates, which is set to become a global aerospace hub, as well as from the length and breadth of the UK.

The Nadcap programme is recognised as the world’s premier quality audit scheme for special processes in the aerospace and defence industry. With this level of accreditation, a company can effectively gain access to worldwide suppliers of the aerospace and defence industries, with more than half of approved organisations reporting that Nadcap has helped to increase sales and gain new business, according to programme administrators PRI.

Established in 1990, the Nadcap initiative is a cooperative industry effort targeted at improving quality, while reducing costs, throughout the aerospace and defence industries. Today’s membership includes over 45 industry ‘prime’ contractors, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce, and the global aerospace supply chain that produces components for the primes.

One of the few Nadcap accredited MTL facilities in the UK, Keighley Labs has been successfully assessed for the evaluation of aerospace welds, micro and macro metallography, micro-indentation hardness procedures, mechanical test specimen preparations, and tensile, impact and bend testing. This particularly confirms the company’s international status as a centre of excellence for weld testing and inspection services, running alongside its UKAS certification to many commercial standards and specifications and Civil Aviation Authority Chapter A8-10 approval of its in-house weld specimen supervisors.

Pre-eminence in this safety-critical area has enabled Keighley Labs to win contracts from the Emirates, for verifying welding quality and procedures on test coupons submitted by the region’s aviation manufacturing industry, which produces aeroplane parts for primes such as Boeing and Airbus. It is also testing fabrications for the Chinese aerospace sector, which the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium recently hailed as ‘presenting huge, long-term opportunities for UK companies’.

Nadcap Merit Accreditation is additionally attracting attention from other industries, such as the nuclear supplier chain, which place similar emphasis upon safety and quality requirements. This has enabled Keighley Labs to win metal tensile testing contracts within the UK nuclear industry, along with an influx of work from other quality-minded sectors.

With MTL reaccreditation recently granted, following another extensive audit as part of the ongoing Nadcap certification process, Keighley Labs expects to win more export sales from weld testing and other laboratory procedures, as well as introducing further quality improvements to its own internal processes.