The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer - Peter Drucker
As the name suggests, third party inspection is getting the products/ raw materials or the process etc inspected by a party other than the supplier, purchaser or the user. In other words a third party inspects to ensure that these adhere to the standards specified. This ensures a fair and unbiased examination of the quality of the function/ product under review.
Normally, a third party inspection (TPI) is carried out
- To check if the raw materials to be used conform to contractual and/or mandatory specifications.
- To verify various process parameters affecting the quality of final product, during production stage.
- To verify whether the finished products meet the contractual requirements with respect to material, visual appearance, dimensional accuracy, physical and micro- structural requirements (if applicable), performance level, etc.
- To verify the provision of transit/export-worthy packaging on products.
- To witness the packaging and shipping of goods in proper condition.
TPI is applicable in various situations. For instance, it is applicable to the export market, wherein the consignment is to be consumed overseas; or the domestic market, wherein the consignment is consumed domestically. The customer, the supplier or the manufacturer, any one of them can appoint a TPI agency to get their products/ processes examined, irrespective of their location. The inspections could be mandatory or on behalf of the above parties. In project situations TPI agencies work for a procurement division of an institute or government bodies. The end user of the product could be someone not related to the project.
TPI services cover a very vast range of products:
1. Pressure vessel inspection, materials and welding inspection.
These services usually pertain to voluntary / mandatory approvals and certification services for European and other countries. They could include:
- Standards explanation and interpretation
- Objective, independent and confidential third party services
- Plant facility auditing and approval according to standards
- Certification to national pressure equipment ordinances
- Initial product design consulting to European code requirements
- Product design review and evaluation to international requirements
- Individual product inspection and certification
- Parts, components and whole system certification
- Project oriented material testing, inspection and certification
- Type approvals
- Welder's and welding procedure qualification and certification in accordance with European requirements
- CE marking notified body services
- Litigation services and expert testimonies
- Combining AD-HP German approval with ISO certification
- Periodic testing and inspection
Periodic testing and inspections is carried for all kinds of plant and factory equipment to ensure safe and trouble-free operation, especially to ensure safety of the user and the environment in which the equipment is operating.
The certification is carried out in accordance to rules and guidelines laid down by various Indian and International Regulatory and Standards bodies such as BIS, BSI, ASTM, ANSI, TEMA, ASME, API, DIN, JIS etc.
The objectives of these inspections are:
- To determine the conformity to requirements of all types of materials used in fabrication / manufacturing of equipment or products. The test results recorded are compared to the contractual specification, specific codes and standards.
- To check the present state / safe working condition of equipment by conducting various checks as per specified requirements.
2. Preshipment inspection
A complete preshipment inspection programme consists of following stages:
Initial production check (IPC): Quality of materials, components, and finished product is checked at the commencement of production against your ordered/contractual specifications. The IPC thus permits an early detection of defects and timely corrections and improvements in product quality, before regular production is initiated. This eliminates wastage and delays.
During production check (DUPRO): A check on the quality of materials, components, and finished product is conducted when at least 25 per cent of the order has been completed. TÜV examines the existing production and ensures that corrections and improvements suggested during the IPC are implemented.
Final random inspection (FRI): A detailed inspection is conducted on samples selected at random (as per appropriate sampling plan) to check whether the quality, quantity, packaging conform to specifications. This inspection is carried out when the total consignment is completed and at least 75 per cent is packed.
The objectives of Preshipment inspections:
- To verify whether the raw materials to be used conform to contractual and/or mandatory specifications
- To verify various process parameters affecting the quality of final product during product stage
- To verify whether the finished products meet the contractual requirements with respect to material, visual appearance, dimensional accuracy, physical and microstructural requirements (if applicable), performance level etc.
- To verify the provision of transit / export-worthy packaging of products
- To witness the packaging and shipping of goods in proper condition
3. Vendor development
Certification to vendors and dealers can be provided as a group or individually. Groups of dealers may be audited on a sample basis, while vendors may take advantage of a "cluster approach. Vendor development and certification is a cost effective method to ensure the highest level of quality amongst the vendors and dealers. Vendor development goes beyond the area of Quality systems and can include input in technical areas such as Research & Development, Statistical tools, type approval, etc.
4. Prequalification / preaward survey and sourcing of suppliers
This involves assessment of overall capability of potential equipment or service suppliers to meet all the requirements of a proposed purchase by means of an �appropriate and neutral investigation�.
A comprehensive audit at supplier's premises includes:
- Technical awareness and know-how
- Past references
- Actual appearances
- Adequacy of the quality system
- Quality control and quality assurance organisation
- Organisational systems and controls
- Existing production facilities and their suitability to produce intended quality of products or services
- Production capacity
- Testing facilities
- Material handling facilities and material flow systems
- Packaging and shipping systems
- Warehousing and storage facilities
- Work schedule
- Records of past performance related to both quality & delivery
- Financial stability
5. Procurement inspections
6. Shop inspection
7. Due diligence
8. Expediting and progress reporting
These services are designed to facilitate:
- Safe, rapid, and efficient transaction of goods
- Prevent disruption of production and delivery schedules
- Increase safety and reliability of products during use
- Independent assessment, verification & advice
TPI has three main stages namely raw material stage, during production stage called as �DUPRO� and finished stage called as �FRI�or final random inspection. It involves:
- Preparation of Quality Assurance Plans
- Visual inspections.
- Dimensional inspections
- Performance or functional test.
- Material testing
- Quantity check
- Packing check including packaging
- Shipping marks verification
Responsible and quality-conscious organisations appoint a third party inspection agency to avoid catastrophic events that could cause damage to lives, environment and equipments or to ensure that their products are of the right quality.
- Mario Rodrigues, Lead Auditor, TÜV S�ddeutschland India
This case study portrays how an organisation has benefited substantially through implementing TPI. The company is so convinced by the outcome that the senior managers believe that companies for their own benefit, should voluntarily adopt TPI, rather than going in for it only when it is mandatory or when a customer asks for it.
Salter India Pvt Ltd is a joint venture with Salter Weigh-tronix of United Kingdom. Salter India was incorporated on October 18, 1998 with the objective of transferring the world famous Salter Spring Balance technology to the Indian Joint Venture Company and manufacturing a variety of weighing scales both for export and domestic sales. Initially, the technology transfer was limited to a few models. However, as the confidence in the Indian operations' capability became evident to Salter Weigh-tronix (UK), it started transferring technology of other models as well. Today, 90 per cent of Salter Spring balances are manufactured at their factory in Okhla Industrial Estate, New Delhi with a wide rate of production.
What does quality mean to Salter India?
Salter Weigh-tronix has a history of 242 years. Their strength is quality of product and consequently quality of service to the customers. Their confidence level in their spring balance manufacturing process is so high that they offer a lifetime warranty on their spring balances.
Salter India has positioned itself as a �Weighing solution� organisation. This necessitates regular interaction with our customers. Our quality policy is "To achieve continuous improvement to customer satisfaction".
When did the Salter India go in for TPI? Why was a need felt to get certified to TPI?
UNICEF uses Salter Spring balances extensively all over the world. In December 2000, Salter India started supplying Baby Weigher balances to UNICEF India, who asked for a third party inspection.
What has been the employee reaction to TPI?
Employees of Salter India view TPI as a challenge, which has made them more conscious about maintaining our quality policy.
How has TPI helped Salter India?
The auditors from TUV Suddeutschland India who conduct our TPIs are professionally qualified and their methodology is both scientific and stringent. We believe that having outside specialist interacting with our production team on quality matters provides us with a more balanced understanding of quality as perceived by others vis-�-vis quality as perceived by us.
Generally speaking, we have found that our production team is more conscious of the aesthetics of our products in addition to the focus on functionality and quality. Consequently, it would be true to say �total quality is a by-product of TPI�.
- Rajesh Nayyar, MD, Salter India Pvt Ltd.>