How to Improve Your Quality Assurance Filing Process
Don't wait - prepare before the end of the quarter! Learn how to improve your quality assurance (QA) filing process, including our 7 Steps for success.
Why Do Quality Assurance Files Matter?
EPA Order 5360.1 CHG 2, Policy and Program Requirements for the Mandatory Agency-wide Quality System, provides requirements for the conduct of quality management practices, including quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) activities, for all environmental data collection and environmental technology programs performed by or for this Agency.
The primary goal of the Agency-wide Quality System is to ensure that environmental programs and decisions are supported by data of the type and quality needed and expected for their intended use and that decision involving the design, construction, and operation of environmental technology is supported by appropriate quality assured engineering standards and practices.
Processing Monthly Quality Assurance (QA) and Hourly Emission Files Advice
Do you usually wait until the end of the quarter to begin generating your quality assurance and hourly emission files? Instead of waiting, we strongly recommend that you generate and evaluate the electronic data reporting (EDR) files on a more frequent basis.
This process involves breaking up the calendar quarter into smaller and more manageable pieces to catch problems earlier when they are easier to handle. The regulations only require the submission of a clean EDR file in the approved EPA format (XML) within the 30 days following the completion of each calendar quarter.
When evaluating an emissions file for a time range less than a full calendar quarter, you will receive error messages from ECMPS for the dates not included. It is best practice to ignore these messages. For example, if you generate a file for only April, and ECMPS says you did not include records for May or June, that is okay. Only focus on any errors for the records in April.
7 Steps to a Timely and Successful Quality Assurance (QA) Filing Process
Review your in-house procedures to prepare and follow a site-specific procedure, which helps lead to consistent and successful results.
Be sure you have access to Emission Collection and Monitoring Plan System (ECMPS) through the client tool. Each time you open the client tool, it will attempt to sync up with the EPA’s host computer network to ensure that your version of the software is up to date.
When reviewing a certain month or period, look over the daily operating reports to look for any error messages and data values associated with these reports. Examples of these reports include:
- Average Data Report
- Daily Calibration Report
- Alarm Report
- Downtime Report
- Excess Emissions Report
The QA file generally has the data and results for any linearities of Relative Accuracy Test Audits (RATAs) performed so far in that quarter. If linearity or RATA have not been completed, the file will be empty. You should still generate a QA file and run it through ECMPS to ensure you are not carrying over any strange error messages from the last quarter. Any error messages generated from ECMPS while processing the QA file must be addressed and corrected in StackVision.
After reviewing all your reports and ensuring the information is correct, generate a QA EDR file, and save it to a known location.
Open up ECMPS to import the QA file you generated and evaluate it. If the Evaluation Report shows one or more errors, you will need to address them in StackVision or other DAS, correct the QA records, and re-generate a new file. Then re-import the QA file and re-evaluate it in ECMPS. Continue this process until there are no errors in the QA file. ECMPS cannot accurately evaluate an emissions file until the QA file is clean.
When the Evaluation Report comes back without errors for the QA file, you are ready to generate an emissions file. Repeat steps #5 and #6 until the evaluation report from ECMPS is clean for the date range included.
Final Thoughts on Improving Your Quality Assurance Filing Process
To make the generation and processing of the QA and emissions files less stressful, it is important to follow the steps listed above. Using StackVision helps you improve this process by providing you with the reports you need to review data and troubleshoot errors. We recommend making sure that your entire fleet uses the same Data Acquisition System to improve the chances for success and provide consistency within the company. Need assistance with Reporting? Our expert Report analysts can help – contact us for more information.