Tag: ansi

Standards: Ensuring Quality, Safety & Spookiness on Halloween

Line-of-pumpkins-from-iStockPhotoHalloween is approaching and is celebrated by millions around the world each year on October 31st.

At Pro QC, our teams across the globe often observe Halloween with good food, friends and festive decorations.

The history of Halloween has evolved.

“Traditional activities on Halloween include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia.” (Source)

Amid all of the spooky fun, we often forget to appreciate the standards, specifications and/or other quality efforts that make this holiday safe!  For example:

Batteries – Those little lights we carry around as we go door-to-door trick or treating or use to decorate our homes and offices often require batteries.

IEC 60086-1 Ed. 11.0 b:2011, Primary batteries – Part 1: General, provides nomenclature, test methods, information on typical performance and safety aspects of primary batteries. The standard – which is intended to assist consumers, designers, and manufacturers – was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Reference: International battery standards

Costumes & Toys – Those cute and/or scary costumes we dress up in each year could be flammable.  But, due to standards in place, this isn’t an issue.

ISO provides important fire-related guidance in connection with wigs, fake beards, masks, and other popular elements of children’s Halloween costumes. ISO 8124-2:2007, Safety of toys – Part 2: Flammability, sets down which categories of flammable materials may not be included in any children’s toy, and provides requirements connected with the flammability of certain toys when exposed to minor amounts of flame. The International Standard was developed by ISO TC 181, Safety of Toys; ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Toy Industry Association (TIA) currently serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG Administrator to ISO TC 181. (Source)

Labels on Halloween costumes, such as the CE mark and the Flame Resistant label, show that the manufacturer has complied with national and international standards.  The label doesn’t mean that these items won’t catch fire, but it does indicate that they will resist burning and they should extinguish quickly once you get them away from the fire source,” says Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI.

If you’re carrying a plastic costume prop or toy such as a mask or a pitchfork, look for the CE Mark.  Under Irish and European law, toys placed on the European market must display the CE Mark. The CE Mark demonstrates that the manufacturer has complied with the Irish and European standard, I.S. EN 71 “Safety of Toys”, and the product has undergone safety testing in the design and manufacture process. (Source)

Reference: Toy Safety Standards Around the World

Of course, product quality inspections throughout the production process helps ensure product meets or exceeds expectations.

Treats – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 41.1 million children went trick-or-treating in 2012. The National Retail Association estimates Americans alone are planning on spending $2.2 billion on candy this year. To satisfy this demand, the the U.S. has more than 1,500 manufacturing establishments producing candy, confectionary goods, and cocoa products as of 2011.

The ISO 22000 family of International Standards addresses food safety management.  The consequences of unsafe food can be serious and ISO’s food safety management standards help organizations identify and control food safety hazards. As many of today’s food products repeatedly cross national boundaries, International Standards are needed to ensure the safety of the global food supply chain.

Not to mention…

  • ANSI/UL 471-2006, Standard for Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers
  • ANSI/UL 197 – 2004. Standard for Commercial Electric Cooking Appliances
  • ASHRAE Refrigeration Handbook
  • NSF/ANSI 2-2005a. Food equipment
  • NSF/ANSI 51-2005. Food equipment materials
  • European Food Safety Authority – EUROPA Food Safety

Decorations – Many homes and offices are decorated with electronic lights and other festive details.

All electrical products sold in the EU must also comply with safety standards and must carry a CE mark.  The mark should be visible on the product itself or on its packaging.

In the United States, electronic items must carry the UL mark and be appropriately listed.

Please contact Pro QC for additional information regarding product safety and testing.  The references here are not all inclusive. Have a safe and fun holiday! 

What is an American National Standard anyway?

ansiWe recently tuned into a webinar offered by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) and thought they did a great job discussing standards and the relationship of ANSI to ANS and the international marketplace.

The follow-up resources they sent out should be shared:

Acceptance sampling isn’t scary

As it turns out, a significant number of people find the Pro QC site searching for sampling and sampling related terms such as ANSI Z1.4 or MIL-STD-105E  (no longer in use).  In speaking with organizations, I’ve also detected a certain level of fear regarding how to approach an acceptance sampling strategy.

Fear is unnecessary… In fact, sampling here is nothing more than a tool you’re going to use to provide a realistic (of course statistically relevant) assessment of quality and be able to ultimately determine whether or not product is meeting expectations without having to spend the time and money involved with a 100% inspection.  This is a good thing.

Some advice…

Get your specs straight – Before you even start to think about AQLs and defect classifications, go back and make sure you’ve really evaluated your product and have created detailed product specifications.  Once you have this information, go through each item and determine how you want to classify nonconformance (major, minor or critical).  At Pro QC, we use the following general guideline for defect classifications:

  • Critical – Any condition found which poses the possibility of causing injury or harm to, or otherwise endangering the life or safety of, the end user of the product or others in the immediate vicinity of its use.
  • Major – Any condition found adversely affecting the product’s marketability and sale-ability or adversely affecting its required form, fit or function and which is likely to result in the end user returning it to the source from which is was purchased for refund or replacement.
  • Minor – Any condition found which while possibly less than desirable to the end user of the product, does not adversely affect its marketability, sale-ability, form, fit or function and is unlikely to result in its return to the source from which is was purchased.

Special or General? – The ANSI Z1.4 tables show various sample sizes based on lot (batch)  sizes in relation to Special and General levels. Here, you’ll want to go through your spec and determine what would require higher levels (general) of sampling or lower (special).  For example, if you have an electronic product that requires functional testing (need to make sure it turns on maybe), special levels of testing makes sense because it may be considered destructive.  The same goes for drop-testing to determine the packaging integrity.  Time is an obvious important consideration, as it relates to not only cost but to shipment schedules as well.  An example might look like this:

  • Visual (cosmetic/workmanship) inspection – General Level 1
  • Drop-testing (Package integrity ISTA testing) – Special Level 3
  • Functional Testing – Special Level 1

Single or Double? – Pro QC uses ANSI Z1.4 single normal sampling as a standard, but we have had clients request double.  If you look at the tables, you’ll note the difference is simply the number you look at.  So, it goes back to time and cost, but you’re also considering your level of assurance with the supplier in general.  You can look at less with double if the product meets expectations, but you’ll be taking a 2nd full sample set if not.

Know your AQLs – Acceptable Quality Limits are simply “the worst tolerable process average in percentage or ratio, that is still considered acceptable: that is, it is at an acceptable quality level.” To figure out what works best, play around with the numbers… Plug in your average lot sizes and levels and go through the row of scenarios.  What are you comfortable with?  An example might look like this:

  • Major Defects 1.5
  • Minor Defects, 4.0
  • Critical Defects 0.10

Tweak it – Sampling strategy is something that can grow and evolve with your product. As you develop supplier relationships and analyze inspection feedback, you’ll be able to make adjustments as necessary.

Utilize the experts – Of course, a 3rd party quality assurance provider such as Pro QC, can provide you with expert advice and guidance or even evaluate your product and develop the specs/sampling for you.  That both relieves apprehension and leverages expertise.

Note: International and national equivalents of the ANSI Z1.4 2003 standard exist as ISO 2859, NF06-022, BS 6001 and DIN 40080.