Quality infrastructure comprises the following elements:
- Standardization provides requirements and specifications to ensure that products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. The national standardization body is responsible for standards development, their publication, awareness raising and the provision of related information.
- Metrology is the science of correct and reliable measurements for legal matters, industry and science. The national metrology institute provides traceability for secondary laboratories and ensures accuracy through calibration services.
- Testing allows the characteristics or performance of a product or process to be determined following a specific procedure. It is important for research, for quality control, and to ensure health and safety, as well as compliance with contractual or regulatory requirements.
- Furthermore, inspection services can be used to determine whether a product or process complies with certain requirements.
- Certification is usually based on testing and inspection and provides assurance that a product or process complies with a standard or specification. As mentioned above, quality management systems can be certified by an independent certification body to show a commitment to quality and that the necessary processes are in place.
- Finally, accreditation is provided by the National Accreditation Body or organized by a National Focal Point for Accreditation and consists in a formal recognition of an organization’s competence to carry out a specific conformity assessment task. Testing and calibration laboratories as well as certification and inspection bodies can apply for accreditation to prove that they are able to provide reliable services.
The national quality infrastructure is an interrelated system in which no component can be developed without developing the others, as they complement each other. Furthermore, the national policy framework and relevant public institutions are to be seen as a part of the quality infrastructure as they establish the framework for the different services (Sanetra and Marbán 2007).
The development of national quality infrastructure varies considerably between different countries. Some nations have established one body in charge of all quality infrastructure services; others have separate institutes placed under different ministries. In many countries, structures for standardization, metrology, testing and inspection exist, while certification is often provided mainly through the offices of international service providers. Accreditation is often organized on the regional level.
The national quality infrastructure should not be developed in an isolated way, but linked to the international and regional systems by establishing the respective relations, to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), for instance. Only in this way is it possible to ensure international traceability, comparability and recognition of local services and benefit fully from the national quality infrastructure.
This category includes more information on quality infrastructure for sustainable energy and concrete information about international cooperation projects on quality infrastructure by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB).
Pages in category "Quality Infrastructure"
The following 5 pages are in this category, out of 5 total.