Join Matthew Allen, M.Eng., P.Eng. SAI Global’s SVP and GM, Assurance – Americas., reflects on the World Accreditation Day 2019 theme, ‘Adding Value to Supply Chains’.
Accreditation and certification are vital to assuring product quality and safety, raising consumer confidence and supporting the sustainability of global supply chains. By championing the standards that shape modern food, environmental, health, quality, and safety programs for all industries, accreditation and certification bodies are quickly becoming the benchmark and compliance tools of choice for governments, industry associations and regional trade regulators.
Few industries can boast of having such a tangible impact on public safety and even fewer are seeing their roles in higher demand as we enter the increasingly complex and uncertain supply chain of the future. In our recent 2019 Reputation Trust Index, SAI Global found two-thirds of consumers would pay more for a product that comes from a company with thorough quality assurance processes. It is fascinating to think that something so practical and traditional as accreditation and standards would play such a critical role in the dynamic world of modern supply chain risk management.
Traditional accreditation approaches are also subject to rapid evolution, like those developed for medical devices, food safety and information and cyber-security needs, essentially redefining what the supply chains of the future will look like. Beyond these ‘big picture’ considerations, we have all personally experienced quality and safety issues within our consumer supply chain, including the loss of access to our favorite produce or products during a recall (e.g. the Romaine lettuce E-coli contamination or the Blue Bell Ice Cream listeria outbreak). With the impact being so immediate on us as consumers, consider the complexity of a recall for global food retailers who source food and ingredients from many countries, each with their own internal regulatory compliance regimes and local quality and safety standards.
How can global brands quickly pinpoint the source of safety or contamination events, and how can they effectively and efficiently benchmark their suppliers’ quality and compliance to prevent incidents in the first place? Accreditation organizations develop and administer the very standards that these global brands can audit their suppliers against to root out any low quality or high risk suppliers in their supply chain. They also provide the foundation for the risk management systems that foster continuous improvement, drive corrective actions, etc. If it were not for the accreditation bodies setting the benchmark for assurance, verification and audit activities, existing regulatory and enforcement systems could simply not keep up with the quantity and variety of risks across so many borders and programs.
The ability to employ globally accredited standards and certification bodies which operate and audit globally adds even greater value to the supply chain via increased consistency, efficiency and transparency. Thereby, eliminating the need to maintain accreditations in multiple jurisdictions at greater cost, duplication of effort and increased room for error. It is these traditional accreditation systems once designed to allow individual countries to develop and administer their own customized local standards, that are now providing the compliance frameworks of the future.
Organizations such as the International Accreditation Forum and the Independent International Organization for Certification are at the forefront of promoting and developing worldwide programs for conformity assessment and management system certification schemes. Their push for unified global frameworks will drive positive change for the years ahead and allow certifying bodies, producers, retailers, and all players within globalized supply chains to more productively interact for the common good of consumers and the public. It is encouraging to hear the unbiased voice of the accreditation community pointing to the need for robust and relevant safety, environment and quality standards. Whatever your viewpoint, we are all better off for having the leadership of the accreditation community behind us. So, on this World Accreditation Day, let’s support these common objectives and work to add our own value for the benefit of our global supply chains.
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