Tag: testing

National Safety Month – Learn & Share

oc1313-world-safety-day-infographicv3Observed ​annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities.

According to the International Labor Organization,

Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease.

Every 15 seconds, 153 workers have a work-related accident.

An estimated 2.3 million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases. More than 160 million people suffer from occupational and work-related diseases, and there are 313 million non-fatal accidents per year. The suffering caused by such accidents and illnesses to workers and their families is incalculable. In economic terms, the ILO has estimated that more than 4% of the world’s annual GDP is lost as a consequence of occupational accidents and diseases.

How safe would we be without standards?

A standard is a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

The listing below includes examples of safety standards from the American Ladder Institute (ALI)American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA).

  • Ladder Safety
  • Fall Protection Safety
  • Construction Safety
  • Clothing & Equipment Safety
  • Workplace Surface Safety
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Consumer Product Safety

Search ANSI standards here.  Or, ASTM standards here, which are used and accepted worldwide and cover areas such as metals, paints, plastics, textiles, petroleum, construction, energy, the environment, consumer products, medical services, devices and electronics, etc.

Find an OSHA standard here.  OSHA provides information on the rulemaking process used to develop workplace health and safety standards,

The IEC develops International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.  Search the IEC standards here.

What can you do to support National Safety Month and raise awareness:

  • Host a meeting to review the “State of Safety” in your organization.
  • Promote support and awareness on your social media networks.
  • Learn more and share the information.  The National Safety Council offers guides that “help you explore safety and health topics at your own pace. Find training resources, webinars, best practices and more.”

Pro QC supports safety in the following ways:

1) When designing and manufacturing your product, we are able to confirm applicable safety standards and provide testing.  “For example, if you are designing a non-toy children’s product that contains a cord, there are a few different standards, including the toy safety standard, that exist and that may provide helpful guidance for you in determining the safe length of cord or string to be used. Although not a mandatory requirement, you would be well advised to consider the guidance in these other standards because it is based on the considered judgment of other manufacturers, designers, and safety experts.”

2) In addition to product safety, we perform various on-site audits that incorporate worker safety. 


Five Ways to Ensure Quality Manufacturing – Sourcing Success

Whether you’re sourcing abroad, or from a manufacturer down the street, similar issues with product quality, shipment delays, cost and safety concerns, etc. still apply.  To mitigate the quality risks and cost involved in sourcing, we recommend five actions that have been proven successful throughout the three decades of experience we have working with clients and suppliers around the world.

1 – Audit Potential & Existing Suppliers 

To help ensure that potential or existing suppliers deliver high-quality products, operate efficiently, and support continuous improvement, process surveys and factory audits are performed.

From supplier capability and qualification to process control and quality system audits, there are a wide range of options. More specific audits incorporate standards such as the ISO series, TS 16949 specifications for the automotive industry, social accountability, sustainability, C-TPAT for security, AS 9100 for aerospace and many others. Requirements for audits do vary based on a number of factors. Two commonly performed general system audits include:

Supplier Capability & Qualification – Auditors survey potential suppliers and provide feedback regarding general operations, quality systems, qualifications and capabilities. This critical information aids in determining if the supplier is a viable source and potential partner.

Supplier Process Control & Quality System – Auditors evaluate all manufacturing process control systems for existing or new suppliers. Audits cover several areas, including evaluations of management, quality control methods, non-conforming materials, production, corrective action and inspection and test equipment.

In general, there are four questions considered to be critical to the audit process:

1) Are controls defined?
2) Are controls applied?
3) Do controls really work?
4) Will controls last?

Many organizations incorporate a supplier rating system to monitor performance.  Examples include no rating, quality rating only, quality & delivery rating (graphic method), quality & delivery method (cost index method) and a comprehensive method.

Being mindful of communication with suppliers is impactful as well and should not be discounted.  More information: Three Ways to Improve Communications With Suppliers

Additional articles we have written regarding various audits include:

2 – Develop Product Criteria/Specifications – Know Your Product

A good plan is only as good as its foundation, so comprehensive and detailed product specifications are critical to success. An important component of product quality is knowing your product. And, that requires detailed product specifications that identify exactly how the item(s) should turn out. What characteristics of the product are required for it to “meet or exceed expectations?”

Product specifications should include defect details with classifications that later link to accept/reject determinations during QC checks. They also clarify the acceptable quality levels and expectations for the supplier.  Each defect noted is generally classified as major, minor or critical.

More information: Classifying Defects

3 – Test Products  

Product testing has multiple applications, from determining if the specifications are being met to troubleshooting various issues.  Using applicable regional and/or industry related standards to measure the product’s properties and evaluate performance provides assurance of quality throughout the production process.  Used as a proactive strategy, applicable product testing can avoid costly delays and rework down the line.

More information: Recognizing The Benefits of Standardization 

4 – Inspect Throughout Production 

Controlling quality by utilizing product inspections throughout the production cycle reduces sourcing risks and cost. Inspections can be conducted at any point throughout the production process, with the maximum benefit observed when strategically employed at the beginning (first-article), in-process (30% -50% complete) and pre-shipment (100% produced and at least 80% packaged). The idea is to identify, contain and resolve issues as quickly as possible.

Inspections generally include:

Quantity verification – This may include raw materials, in-process components, inputs (components) from other sources and/or completed and packaged product. Sample sizes are selected for each component identified in the criteria for inspection. Acceptable quality levels, AQLs, are identified for determining an accept or reject result.

Packaging –Drop-testing is often conducted to check the integrity of the unit and/or master carton packaging integrity. In addition, the condition of the cartons and labeling accuracy is evaluated.

More information: The Importance of Packaging

Appearance & Workmanship -Examples of appearance and workmanship usually include making sure samples are free of cosmetic defects such as scratches or dents and that all components and accessories are included.

Function & Performance – Examples of function and performance might include assembly or electrical testing, as applicable.

More information: Understanding the Inspection Process

5 – Focus On & Support Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

Define, evaluate, implement, document and review results. Strategically planned continuous improvement initiatives result in the following:

* A decrease in costs due to less reworking, consequently producing less scrap.

* An improvement in cycle time due to less time being spent on correcting mistakes, and more time being spent on value added activities.

* An improvement in productivity due to less time being spent on reworking nonconformities.

* Improved relationships with suppliers (partners).

* An overall improvement in service.

* An overall improvement in cost.

Tell us about your experiences ensuring quality throughout the supply chain!  Or, contact us if you have additional questions and/or comments.

Supply Chain Management – Webinar Review

Our Tampa office worked with the local ASQ section and Hillsborough Community College’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education and coordinated and instructed a series of webinars that will run through this month.  The webinar scheduled for today discusses Supply Chain Management, which many in our industry recognize is a broad topic. As a brief introduction, the following components are discussed:

Supplier Selection

  • Conduct a needs analysis (brainstorm and consider long-term growth expectations).
  • Conduct preliminary interviews and/or surveys.
  • Evaluate samples.
  • Perform on-site audits (general quality systems management, ISO based, social responsibility, security, etc.).
  • Use a grid analysis for objective decision making.

Supplier Evaluation (Performance)

  • Conduct pre-production, in-process and final pre-shipment inspections.
    • Trend the data and incentivize based on performance.
  • Perform regular audits. 
  • Develop a rating system.
    • Examples include no rating, quality rating only, quality & delivery rating (graphic method), quality & delivery method (cost index method) and a comprehensive method .

Supplier Partnerships

  • Share information – Communication and transparency are key.
  • Know and understand goals, vision and capabilities.
  • Incorporate training.
  • Develop supplier rewards associated with specific criteria.

Supplier Improvement (Corrective Action

  • Define, evaluate, implement, document and review results.
    • Seeks to eliminate the causes of nonconformities in order to prevent recurrence – Resolves product manufacturing issues.
    • Incorporates corrective action investigation, corrective action planning and corrective action verification.

Next week’s webinar will focus on Strategic Planning Tools.  Register here.  And, let us know what you think!

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! 

Who cares about noise?

“One person’s data is another person’s noise.” ~K.C. Cole

Did you know?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the single most common irreversible occupational hazard worldwide is noise-induced hearing impairment.
  • Noise levels are commonly measured in decibels (dB). It is a logarithmic scale rather than a linear one, because the human ear can handle such a vast range of sound levels. Zero dB is the softest sound a healthy human ear can detect. 
  • Eighty-five decibels (dB) is the level above which hearing protection is recommended to avoid hearing loss from the cumulative effects of exposure to noise over time. How can you tell if the noise level is 85 dB? Here’s a quick test: If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away from you, you are likely in an environment with a sound level of 85 dB or more.                                                                                                            (Source)

At Pro QC, we care about noise. Our quality engineers perform special testing to ensure that product being produced and sold meets specifications and ultimately customer expectations.

We use sound level meters, or sound meters, which are instruments that measure noise levels.  In the photo below, we are testing a kitchen blender.  The limit of the noise level depends on the product, or clients may also have their own requirements.

We follow the general criteria below for noise testing.

1) Place the distance between the sound level meter and blender 1m to check.

2) Noise level limit should be <85db

In addition, note the  information below from IEC-60704 for household appliances.

Product type Rated Power (W) Noise limit value /dB(A)
Food Blender  for dry and hard food ≤700 90


Food blender, for soft food


≤700 95

Tolerance should not exceed +3 or -3 dB.