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Past Project in Detail

Austral Bricks - gain NATA accreditation of testing lab


L to R:  Cameron Sneddon (UQ student) and John Zhu (Austral Bricks)   Cameron Sneddon proudly displaying Austral's NATA accreditation certificate  


Project duration: 1st semester, 2003

Student: Cameron Sneddon, UQ B.Mechanical and Space Engineering


Austral Bricks is a market leader in the manufacture of quality clay bricks and pavers. To maintain their high quality product guarantee, it is Austral’s intention to bring testing, calibration and quality laboratory procedures up to NATA registration requirements. NATA, the National Association of Testing Authorities, is Australia’s national laboratory accreditation system and once accredited, Austral’s quality products will be recognised worldwide. This will allow Austral to expand further into overseas markets and provide local customers with a high level of confidence.

In order to undertake this project, John Zhu, Technical Manager, Austral Bricks realised that they needed an extra resource. He chose to host a CEED project so that he could give a student the opportunity to gain valuable industry experience.


The objective was to achieve NATA registration by the end of May 2003.

In order to achieve this objective, Cameron had to review the NATA requirements for registration, critically examine current practices at Austral and establish new laboratory procedures to meet the NATA registration requirements. In the process of meeting NATA requirements, an efficient database was set up for storing test results which will enable analysis of the variability in test results.


Cameron submitted all paperwork to NATA according to his project schedule. Austral’s application was then submitted to the NATA Chairman and Board of Directors, for review. Various queries came back to Austral over a period of a couple of months and Cameron assisted by answering their queries. NATA’s Board of Directors gave their final approval for Austral’s accreditation in August.

During the project, Cameron gained a good insight into the requirements, processes and length of time required to gain NATA accreditation, in the real world. He had to liaise with a wide range of people during the project, which was also great experience and improved his communication and problem solving skills – especially when answering queries from NATA.

John Zhu and Cameron enjoyed the opportunity to learn from each other and John is “delighted” that Austral has gained accreditation at their Rochedale laboratory.

Now that Austral is in the process of acquiring a majority share of Bristile (making it the largest and most profitable clay product producer in Australia), their NATA accreditation will be even more valuable, according to John.

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