The changing face of assurance within a digital landscape

Over the past few years, there has been a steady rise in the use of technology within the assurance arena.

Organisations worldwide are proclaiming their commitment to having a strategic focus on being technologically enabled and agile. This means that assurance providers are at the forefront of embracing new technologies such as LR’s announcement in June of the adoption of the greenfence™ platform technology to facilitate the development of digital assurance services.

In the digital economy, platform ecosystems are nothing less than the foundation for new value creation. They offer unrivalled potential for connectability, scalability and interoperability of existing databases, schemes and systems and also for the future development and enhancement of assurance services across all industry sectors.

This changing face of assurance means that as we move forward, we will see the blending of conventional assessment with digital monitoring and audit solutions that will enable the delivery of real-time assurance and insight, moving from a retrospective focus to predictive insight, from what went wrong to what could go wrong. This is expected to have a disruptive effect on traditional testing, inspection and certification business models, which in turn also presents opportunities – hence LR’s decision to take an early adopter position.

There are also new approaches to traditional services for the benefit of organisations worldwide, who are often faced with a range of complex supply chain challenges. As a result, there are new methods emerging to address these. Clients in conflict zones and in regions where access is difficult including Iraq and Afghanistan, have already benefited from remote audits, delivered through online technologies, with procedures reviewed and approved by UKAS. We look at an example of a remote audit below. 

Remote inspection technologies such as drones and robotics are becoming a reality to enable data to be gathered remotely from sites.

Remote audit in Iraq: driving client value with technology

To meet the needs of clients working in challenging circumstances, where it is not possible for an assessor to access the site, LRQA has developed new processes and procedures to conduct a remote audit using computer assisted auditing techniques (CAAT).

Alak Misk & Misnaf (AMM) is the first company to have had a remote audit with LRQA for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 (occupational health and safety). The company provides project logistics and port operations services to oil, gas and energy projects at various locations across Iraq. Maintaining certification is a key part of AMM’s strategy to align its operations and vision to achieve the utmost customer satisfaction aligned with local and international rules and regulations. As part of an international group, independent third party certification of their management systems helps to meet the needs of their stakeholders and to ensure continual improvement. With procedures reviewed and approved by UKAS, LRQA’s new approaches to traditional assurance services help organisations worldwide. Clients in conflict zones and where access is difficult have already benefited from remote audits.

Additive manufacturing assurance

The focus on digital technology continues with additive manufacturing (AM). Spanning a range of sectors from pharmaceuticals to aerospace, AM is being hailed as the next industrial revolution due to its ability to create complex, precision parts with an overall reduction in resource usage and weight. However, printing metal parts consistently is proving a challenge, as is proving the integrity of those parts for safety-critical applications. This is why LR this year applied its deep experience around certification of materials and equipment by launching a framework for manufacturers who would like their printed components certified by LR.

  • This article by LRQA appears in LR's Group Review 2016.