Importance of standards

IT IS pleasing to note that we have had great interaction from our readers with many having written back to us. It is also gratifying that there are organisations that have decided to engage our expertise in putting in place quality management systems that will assure them of consistence in meeting customer requirements for good quality products or services.
For the sake of our new readers, the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) is a statutory body established through an Act of Parliament, the Standards Act CAP 416 of the Laws of Zambia.
The Bureau’s mandate is to provide services in the areas of standards development, product certification, import quality monitoring, export quality inspection, product testing, calibration of measuring equipment, consultancy and training to industry.
ZABS is also the national enquiry point for World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues.
As we continue to celebrate the Golden Jubilee for our independence this year, ZABS will proudly fly the mantle for having been in the business of setting national standards and certifying products for industries for the past three decades now, having been established in 1982.
In this column, we shall share with you, our readers, the importance of a national standards body (NSB) like ZABS. With increased trade among countries, internationally accepted norms or standards are needed to support this development.
The national quality infrastructure is largely dependent on the expertise versed in the national standards body as well as other organisations charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is adherence to the quality of commodities and services in the country.
NSB plays a pivotal role in the economy of a country in ensuring that there is standardisation of products which in turn fosters development.
It’s primary objectives are to ensure that goods and services produced and supplied in the country meet local and international quality requirements, ensure that quality consciousness is raised amongst suppliers and consumers, develop the human resource necessary to support the various standardisation activities as well as quality and technical regulation programmes.
Other objectives are to promote and maintain a quality culture in public life and throughout society, and develop and implement a national quality infrastructure and technical regulations framework aligned to and consistent with international best practices.
Amongst the various levels of standardisation, ie, the level of the individual, the company, the industry or the country, it is the national level that is most important.
It is at the national level that the standardisation requirements of individuals, companies and the industry are co-ordinated and integrated into purposeful national standards.
At the same time, national level standards serve as a basis for forging international agreements on international standards, which help to promote worldwide exchanges of goods and services.
By its very definition, standardisation is aimed at achieving maximum order in the economy. Standards provide benefits to different sectors of society. Some of the benefits of standardisation are as follows:-
For manufacturers, standards:
• Rationalise the manufacturing process
• Eliminate or reduce wasteful material or labour
• Reduce inventories of both raw material and finished products
• Reduce the cost of manufacturing
For customers, standards:
• Assure the quality of goods purchased and services received
• Provide better value for money
• Are convenient for settling disputes, if any, with suppliers
For traders, standards:
• Provide a workable basis for acceptance or rejection of goods or consequential disputes, if any.
• Minimise delays, correspondence, etc, resulting from inaccurate or incomplete specification of materials or products.
For technologists, standards:
• Provide starting points for research and development for further improvement of products.
The client base includes consultants, the mines, churches and NGOs, to mention a few, which require quality products and services and may also require certification of their products and services.
There is need that the different players in a quality-conscious economy demonstrate, show or provide evidence that their products and services conform to Zambian standards held by the NSB.
For those dealing in products, this means that their product needs to be produced using correct quantities of measurements, in which case they need calibrated equipment.
To obtain proof of the product conformity to standards, they require proof from third-party bodies specialised in such through certification or accreditation.
Only through participation of various stakeholders can ZABS, as the NSB, manage to keep out substandard products from the market.
The author is head for marketing and public relations.
Hazel Mafwenko Zulu,
For more information contact the Director,
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House, Freedom Way, South-end
P.O Box 50259, Lusaka-Zambia
Tel: +260-211 231385

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