IQ, OQ, and PQ Validation: What You Need to Know

Categories: Life Sciences, Lab Support Services, Biotech

IQ, OQ, and PQ Validation: What You Need to KnowIQ, OQ, and PQ are important processes for guaranteeing the safety and accuracy of laboratory equipment. Whether you’re setting up new equipment, conducting repairs, or recalibrating your systems, fulfilling these qualifications will help you maintain optimal performance levels over time.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what these acronyms actually mean, why they’re important, and how to get the help you need with validation.

What Are IQ, OQ, and PQ?

Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQ) are the three steps that make up the equipment validation process. These qualifications are in place to ensure that equipment is installed and operates in the manner intended by the manufacturer.

Installation Qualification (IQ)

IQ’s objective is to validate that all equipment components have been installed according to the manufacturer's specifications. It involves inspecting parts for physical damage or defects, testing that connections between components are sound, confirming that software versions are current, and making sure that safety features are activated.

Operational Qualification (OQ)

OQ verifies that all the equipment's functions operate correctly and within the specified limits set by the manufacturer. For example, if you're working with a temperature-sensitive apparatus, OQ will assess the accuracy of its temperature controls. Similarly, if the machine is meant to run at certain speeds, OQ tests will confirm whether it does so accurately. Beyond function, OQ also checks the safety features, including alarms and other fail-safes, to ensure they're in working order. In other words, OQ ensures that the equipment can perform its tasks correctly, safely, and in accordance with established parameters.

Performance Qualification (PQ)

PQ evaluates the instrument's ability to meet its intended performance criteria over a period of time and under different environmental conditions. For instance, can your temperature-sensitive apparatus maintain accurate control when the lab itself experiences fluctuations in temperature? Does your high-speed centrifuge continue to operate at peak efficiency even after weeks of use? Moreover, PQ tests how well the equipment performs with minimal upkeep, like recalibration or other maintenance activities.

Any discrepancies or issues identified during this stage must be corrected and re-validated before the equipment can be cleared for regular use. Therefore, PQ isn't just a "one-and-done" activity; it's a continuous quality check that often involves repeated testing over the life of the equipment.

Why Are IQ, OQ, and PQ Important?

In an industry where even the tiniest margin of error can have significant implications, you need to be certain your equipment works flawlessly. These validation processes act as your safety net, ensuring that every piece of equipment functions exactly as it's supposed to, every single time it's used.

Failure to perform these validations can also put your lab at risk of non-compliance with industry standards and regulations. This can result in fines, legal ramifications, and even lab closures. IQ, OQ, and PQ documentation serve as a formal record that you're meeting regulatory requirements.

What’s more, poorly calibrated or malfunctioning equipment can lead to inaccurate results, requiring tests to be redone and wasting valuable resources. In the long run, adhering to IQ, OQ, and PQ protocols can save both time and money by preempting these issues. Plus, it contributes to data integrity and adds an extra layer of credibility to your research.

How Are IQ, OQ, and PQ Performed?

Performing IQ, OQ, and PQ validations can seem like a daunting task, but when approached methodically, they provide an invaluable framework for establishing and maintaining the quality of your lab operations. Here's a high-level breakdown of how each is typically performed:


  1. Review manufacturer's guidelines: Before anything else, thoroughly review the equipment's installation manual and specifications provided by the manufacturer.
  2. Perform pre-installation checks: Inspect the area where the equipment will be placed to ensure it meets requirements for space, electrical supply, and other necessities.
  3. Inspect individual components: Examine each part for physical damage or defects before installation.
  4. Document installation steps: As you follow the installation procedures, document each step meticulously, noting any deviations or issues.
  5. Execute final checks: Ensure that the software is up-to-date and all safety features, like emergency stops or alarms, are functional.
  6. Generate IQ report: Create a formal IQ report for review and approval.


  1. Perform functional tests: Conduct a series of tests to verify that each function of the equipment operates correctly and within the specified limits.
  2. Check safety measures: Test all safety features, including alarms and fail-safes, to make sure they are in good working order.
  3. Develop validation plan: Prioritize tests based on the functions most critical to your operations and document your testing plan.
  4. Document results: Keep thorough records of the test results, noting any deviations from expected parameters.
  5. Generate OQ report: Compile all test data, observations, and notes into a comprehensive OQ report for review and approval.


  1. Establish performance criteria: Clearly define the performance parameters your equipment needs to meet under normal operating conditions.
  2. Conduct long-term testing: Run the equipment under these conditions for an extended period to evaluate its performance over time.
  3. Test environmental conditions: If applicable, test the equipment's performance under varying environmental conditions, such as temperature or humidity fluctuations.
  4. Analyze data: Analyze data to ascertain if the equipment consistently meets the established performance criteria.
  5. Address discrepancies: Any issues or discrepancies that arise must be addressed, corrected, and re-validated before final approval.
  6. Generate PQ report: Compile the findings into a detailed PQ report, which should be reviewed and approved before the equipment is cleared for regular use.

Maintaining meticulous records is crucial, both for internal quality assurance and for demonstrating compliance with external regulations. Many labs opt to use electronic lab notebooks or specialized software to keep track of their IQ, OQ, and PQ processes.

Whether you choose to perform these validations in-house or opt for third-party specialists, what's most important is that IQ, OQ, and PQ become integral to your lab’s culture of excellence and quality assurance.

At Flagship Lab Services, we are aware of how critical accuracy is to the success of experiments and tests carried out in your lab. We offer comprehensive validation solutions, including everything from linearity checks to temperature mapping studies.

Our expert technicians take great care to deliver high-caliber validation services as well as detailed documentation to ensure the reliability and compliance of your equipment.

For more information about our integrated services, visit our lab services page.