The Road to Becoming a NATA Accredited Inspection Body

Ross McKirdy and Paul Brown

Since 2008, Ironbark has acted as the independent technical assessor for the Public Lighting Approvals Network (PLAN).

In order to strengthen our standing as a respected, independent assessor of new street light technologies, Ironbark has sought and obtained National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation as an Inspection Body.

This means that Ironbark has been assessed by NATA and found to comply with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020 (the International Standard governing the requirements of inspection bodies) and to be technically competent to inspect street lights against those requirements of AS/NZS 1158.6 outlined in our Scope of Accreditation.

We've had a few councils ask us how we got to this stage and what the process was. So here's the story

What was the process of becoming a NATA lab?

The Short Version

Nearly 2 years of working with NATA to ensure all of our systems were in place (e.g. establishment of strict policies and procedures around quality assurance, impartiality and confidentiality, auditing, dealing with pressure from suppliers, document management; calibration and maintenance of inspection equipment, training of staff) and also answering lots of questions and an onsite assessment from the crew at NATA!

The Long Version

It all begins back in 2006, the year twitter was launched, Australia made the final sixteen of the World Cup and a former Beatle turned 64. At that time Australian councils had long sought to leverage their power by engaging collectively and collaboratively with key stakeholders such as electricity distribution businesses and regulators. Back in 2006 the Victorian Sustainable Public Lighting Action Group (VSPLAG), a group that involved around 60 councils from around Victoria and representatives from MAV and ICLEI Oceania, was formed to facilitate the installation of energy efficient street lighting.

Ironbark was the technical advisor to VSPLAG and Ironbark’s Paul Brown represented councils in negotiations with distribution businesses (DNSPs), along with Stuart Nesbitt who was at that time the Climate Change Action Officer at Darebin City Council.

In light of the experience and successes of VSPLAG and the barriers around new energy efficient light approvals, Ironbark established an administrative and technical advisory service in 2008 to support transparent and consistent technical recommendations for new street lighting technology and products. This support program is administered via a network that allows for effective communication and easy sharing of information.

Known as the Public Lighting Approvals Network (PLAN), the service is offered free of charge with all assessment costs incurred by technology manufacturers and suppliers. 

Ironbark’s role in PLAN has been to independently assess the technical and market suitability of dozens of new street lighting products against the requirements of the relevant Australian Standard, AS/NZS 1158.6, and the specific requirements of approval authorities. These assessments facilitated the approval of energy efficient street lights such as LED and Fluorescent T5s by DNSPs which are now being rolled out across the state in their hundreds of thousands.

In order to further streamline and fast-track this technical approvals process, as well as give stakeholders the confidence of a recognised standard, Ironbark thought it was a logical step to seek NATA accreditation.

We started that process in 2012 and now have NATA accreditation.

For more information we have an overview here, an FAQ section here or you can simply contact us.

*Please note that as of June 2017 Ironbark is no longer NATA accredited.