On the occasion of World Accreditation Day 2019, TÜV SÜD underlines the significant role of certification in global trade and supply-chain transparency. World Accreditation Day goes back to an initiative launched by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). With 24,000-plus staff in roughly 50 countries, TÜV SÜD is among the world's leading suppliers of testing, inspection and certification (TIC) services.
This year's theme of World Accreditation Day is “Adding Value to Supply Chains”. Against a backdrop of the globalisation of world trade and growing demands by consumers, companies and governments, compliance with the quality requirements of goods and services throughout the supply chain is one of the key challenges faced by all stakeholders. This applies to almost every sector, including the food, manufacturing, process and automotive industries.
Global standardisation of the requirements and independent third-party confirmation of conformity with the applicable laws, guidelines and standards are crucial for ensuring the quality of products and services throughout the supply chain. Conformity assessment is provided by independent TIC companies and/or third parties, using methods such as on-site audits and inspections, laboratory testing and calibration of measuring equipment. The TIC companies issue certificates or certificates of conformity which confirm that a product or system is in compliance with the relevant requirements.
Given this, TIC companies and their activities are key elements in the trust we place in the informative value of certificates of conformity and other certificates. In turn, their performance and the quality of their work are verified in an accreditation process carried out by a third-party accreditation body – generally a government authority or international standard owner. Within this accreditation procedure, TIC companies must prove that they carry out their work with professional expertise and in compliance with all legal and normative requirements. Responsibility for the assessment and surveillance of the management systems of TIC companies and the expertise of their staff rests with the accreditation bodies.
“The accreditation and certification system is the basis both of global trade and of the necessary transparency throughout the supply chain”, says Christian Priller, Head of Corporate Accreditation, Standardisation and Quality Management at TÜV SÜD. “By providing a global network of experts and testing laboratories and maintaining our internal quality management system, we safeguard standardised assessment and documentation of conformity with legal and normative requirements.” At present TÜV SÜD holds approximately 650 accreditations covering the company's wide and versatile range of activities.
One of the main challenges in the near future will lie in integrating the technological innovations surrounding Industry 4.0, and in developing and establishing harmonised global standards as the basis of testing and certification. The food industry, for example, can use blockchain technology to communicate the details of individual products in a single ledger and update them by consensus. Given this, blockchain technology offers the opportunity to remedy information asymmetry and realise end-to-end traceability programmes for food.
Another example of innovative technologies concerns additive manufacturing, which allows functionally optimised components to be produced and small batch sizes to be manufactured cost-effectively. To bridge the gap between the dynamic development of additive manufacturing and standardisation and regulation of the future, which still needs to be established, TÜV SÜD has developed a special certification programme aimed at additive manufacturers. The programme is based on a total of 40 existing standards plus additional expert know-how and has been tailored to the special requirements of additive manufacturing.
As a general rule, the following applies: Development and implementation of standards that are harmonised and recognised at international level are key for advancing the acceptance of innovative technologies among all stakeholders – from manufacturers to consumers. The accreditation and certification system is a prerequisite for ensuring that these standards are implemented and complied with. TIC companies contribute significantly to the transparency of the global supply chain, and thus help to ensure that products offer end-to-end traceability and consistent quality.
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