Sunday, November 3, 2013

ISI Mark of India - Synonym for Quality, Safety and Reliability

November is the World Quality Month.  This probably is the best time of the year to write about the how a customer, in India, gets the ability to choose to buy a high quality product.  What quality certification do they look for in a product before purchase?   How do product companies in India guarantee quality?  What are the quality standards they adhere to?  These are some interesting questions for which we will look for answers here.

In India, certain products carry a certification logo that says 'ISI'.  People in India refer to this logo as "ISI Mark" and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) provides this product certification.  ISI stands for 'Indian Standards Institution', which is the institution that certifies that a product is of good quality and meets mandated specifications.   ISI mark is mandatory for certain products, for example,  kitchen appliances like pressure cookers, electrical appliances such as water heaters, wiring cables, milk powder, masonry cement, clinical thermometers etc.

The ISI mark provides the customer the guarantee of quality, safety and reliability.  Companies adhere to certification procedures and obtain licenses to use the ISI mark.  Certification application procedures are of 2 types - normal and standard.  Standard certification process is a quicker certification process applicable to certain products while normal certification process is an exhaustive process conducted by a BIS officer.  It is to be noted that BIS laboratories adhere to ISO/IEC Guide 17025:1999 quality standards. 

Overseas applicants and Indian Importers are also granted license for use of ISI mark under certain product categories.   

BIS provides another interesting quality certification - specifically for products such as gold jewels and gold coins.  This is popularly known as 'BIS Gold Hallmark'.  Gold products with BIS Hallmark logo carry a premium over non-certified gold products.  Purity of gold is guaranteed with BIS Hallmark certification.  BIS is the designated agency by Indian Government for providing the BIS Hallmark certification.   The BIS Hallmarking Scheme is aligned to the International criteria on hallmarking (Vienna Convention 1972).  

BIS acts as a third-party certification provider that guarantees quality, safety and reliability for various consumer products including gold.  People in India are very cautious to look for ISI mark and BIS Hallmark when purchasing  products.  The ISI mark has become a symbol of trust and provides peace of mind for the people in India and it is a synonym for high quality. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

How a common man measure quality?

Paul has asked a simple-looking question in the October 2013 blog post - "What new fields or disciplines could most reap the benefits of quality tools and techniques"?  Paul's question is focused on application of quality beyond 'manufacturing' - be it in, say, 'athletics', 'customer service', or 'education'. 

Quality is not easily quantifiable for a common man. He cannot apply quality tools and techniques so easily to measure quality.  Most consumers get to measure quality using simple qualitative parameters. 

For example, say, in a WalMart store, people easily identify the best quality apples from the assortment displayed in various aisles.  Most people can measure value of products on sale.  Thus, value becomes an important aspect of quality, as certain high quality products (say, apples) are available at relatively cheaper prices. 

Let us look at healthcare.  We prefer to go to certain hospitals or pharmacy stores and even prefer to visit certain doctors to others.  Why?  We, somehow, perceive high quality - another qualitative measurement.  The perception may be due to the high availability of products, proximity to work or home, or, even a particular salesperson.   Thus, perception becomes another aspect of quality.  Good perception, most often, is a result of high quality products and services offered.

Here is yet another example.  This example may be applicable only for people who commute regularly to work using public transport (especially bus) services.  Many times, people prefer to ride certain buses/routes.  Most times, it is the bus driver that is the reason for this preference.  The driving skill and high degree of professionalism are some of the qualitative aspects that help the driver to deliver high quality services.  So, skill and character plays a key role in delivering quality.

There are quality tools and methodologies available for quality practitioners to measure the quality service levels quantitatively.    But people, the real customers, can measure quality (high or low), relatively easily and accurately, by looking at certain aspects of quality such as value, perception, skill, character etc. 

I would invite to you take a look at the work done by ASQ on service quality.

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