Building Singapore’s quality and standards infrastructure will help address the needs of local industries
Whether you are in the manufacturing, service or construction industry, quality assurance and standards can help your business to become more productive, reduce waste, manufacture safer products and gain greater market access.
As the national standards and accreditation body, SPRING Singapore develops and promotes internationally recognised standards, and ensures the quality and reliability of testing, inspection and certification reports for products and services. SPRING also helps enterprises adopt standards as strategic business tools to expand their service offerings and compete in other markets.
SPRING recently announced that it is allocating another $10 million towards helping more local enterprises build capabilities through adopting standards as a business strategy, in addition to the $20 million that was committed to developing Singapore’s quality and standards infrastructure in 2011.
Additionally, the grant will fund the appointment of a new Standards Development Organisation to oversee standards development and promotion in the building & construction sector, as well as train a new breed of standards professionals through standards education. This will strengthen the infrastructure to enhance the quality of products and services and nurture quality and standards talents for companies.
At the annual Quality and Standards Conference held in August, SPRING’s Chief Executive, Mr Tan Kai Hoe, said a robust quality and standards infrastructure would assure consumers of the quality of Singapore’s products and services.
“As quality and standards will play a bigger role in the transformation and growth of our economy, our programmes must continue to stay relevant, and deliver benefits to Singapore’s enterprises so that they can remain competitive,” Mr Tan says.
Key Achievement In 2013
SPRING achieved a number of milestones in 2013 with regard to quality and standards. It developed and reviewed some 180 Singapore Standards and built up a robust accreditation system that has a pool of more than 290 competent conformity assessment bodies. It also helped 630 enterprises improve their organisational performance and service levels to stay ahead of the competition through business and service excellence and standards adoption projects.
SPRING continued to be an active player within the international standards scene too, with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards – setting up a regional office in Singapore in September 2013. In partnership with SPRING, the regional office has been actively engaging with ISO member states to raise the profile and awareness of ISO standards and their benefits as well as build up the capacity of ISO members to participate in the development of ISO standards.
What’s more, SPRING was also elected as a member of the Executive Committee for Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) last year, where it plays an active role in helping to shape and influence the policies for accreditation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Regional bodies such as PAC and Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation (APLAC) facilitate trade in the Asia-Pacific through Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) that enable countries to recognise their partners’ conformity assessment bodies and reduce the need for retesting and recertification. SPRING’s network of MRAs has been extended to include Food Safety Management System Certification and Proficiency Testing Providers, providing businesses with easier access to more than 75 economies, including China, India, Indonesia and the United States.
Such international collaborations add value to industries from the exchanging of best practises, harmonising standards and accreditation work and establishing mutual recognition arrangements to facilitate the acceptance of goods and services across borders. These efforts have enhanced global trade and commerce due to greater credibility and recognition.
Addressing New Challenges
Standards and accreditation play a critical role in enabling the development and adoption of new technologies, as well as addressing industry needs. In partnership with SPRING, the strategic plans developed by the Singapore Standards Council (SSC) and Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) last year will focus on accelerating new growth areas, raising produc- tivity, increasing resource efficiency and sustainability, and addressing social and safety needs.
In new growth areas, such as additive manufacturing, the recently formed Manufacturing Standards Committee will spearhead new standards development in non-destructive evaluation techniques and the on-site monitoring of products manufactured with 3D printing technology. SPRING and the SSC are also developing new standards that will raise the productivity of logistics support in the manufacturing industry.
To address the growing concern for quality training, SPRING and the SAC recently launched a new accreditation scheme for bodies that certify Learning Service Providers (LSPs). LSPs are companies that provide non-formal education and training services. This new scheme will provide third-party assurance of the competency and impartiality of accredited certification bodies in certifying LSP. This will raise the competency standards of the workforce and increase public confidence in the credibility of certified training courses.
SPRING will continue to review its quality and standards initiatives to accelerate the adoption of key stand- ards and enhance the quality of Sin- gapore’s products and services. It has already identified 50 new potential standards to be developed over the next three to five years.
From this year, SPRING has taken on the role of Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) Secretariat to strengthen international standardisation programmes and to enhance free trade. SPRING is also deepening its partnerships with its international counterparts and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS- ANZ) to foster closer collaboration in international accreditation. Currently, SPRING is also developing three new MoUs with key overseas counterparts in Britain, Germany and the Middle East that will help local enterprises through capability development and better market access. These developments will help support the transformation and growth of the Singapore economy, as well as deliver benefits to SMEs so they can remain competitive.