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Use standards to enhance product quality

IF a product fulfils the customers’ expectations, the customer will be pleased and consider that the product is of acceptable or even higher quality.
If his or her expectations are not met, the customer will consider that the product is of low quality. This means that the quality of a product may be defined as its ability to fulfil customer needs and expectations.
In that case, quality needs to be defined firstly in terms of parameters or characteristics, which vary from product to product. For example, for a mechanical or electronic product, these are performance, reliability, safety and appearance.
Whereas for a pharmaceutical product parameters such as physical and chemical characteristics, medicinal effect, toxicity, taste and shelf life may be important, for a food product parameters will include nutritional properties, texture, and shelf life and so on. This is one of the reasons we say that the quality of an expired product cannot be guaranteed because it has outlived its shelf life.
What I am saying, dear reader, is that using standards in all business processes can enhance the quality of a product. This is so because such products become consistent and reliable.
You know by now that a standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.
A standard, therefore, to a larger extent promotes innovation and thereby enhances product quality. I am saying all this, dear reader, because am excited about the performance of the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) in the last six months in terms of increase in the sale of standards.
Last week, we informed the public that ZABS had sold 177 standards to various companies in the country in the first six months of this year. This is exciting news to us because it reflects on the strides that we have made in terms of promoting standardisation in our country.
It is indeed good news because it also confirms to us that local industry players in Zambia are beginning to appreciate the value that standards can add to their businesses.
We are satisfied with the number of companies, particularly local ones that are coming forward to enquire about applicable standards in their areas of business as well as those that are buying and using standards.
We can also confidently attribute this development to the concerted efforts that we have put in as a Bureau to consistently dialogue with industry and provide them with the necessary information.
And I want to believe that it should be exciting news to you as well because you and I know that standards are developed to protect your health and safety as well as to safeguard the environment. And yes, dear reader, I have always emphasised that you as a consumer should always relate standards to your health and safety.
On the other hand, manufacturers should begin to look at standards as a catalyst for business growth. Manufacturers should not perceive standards as an unnecessary cost but as a solution to multiple business challenges whose benefits outweigh the cost attributed to it.
Let me end by encouraging entrepreneurs in Zambia to use standards to earn customer loyalty as a result of the quality of products produced and to gain a competitive advantage. Together, we can grow and sustain our economy by effectively using standards in product development.
Have a lovely and blessed week!
The author is head – marketing and public relations
For more information
contact the Director
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House, Freedom Way
P O Box 50259, Lusaka
Tel: 260-211-231385,