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Ahmed Kamel
Special to the Gazette
What if a company imports a certain commodity and realises after deliverythat it does not meet national quality specifications? The firm will take legal action. But on what criteria will a case be built? The specification memorandum attached to the contract between the two companies.
However, who will certify this claim on legal grounds? An independent and trustworthy third party is needed.
As necessity is the mother of all invention, a practical framework to inspect grain shipments was created in France in 1878. Then came the Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) which was established in Geneva, Switzerland in 1911 to ensure htat agricultural produce and manufactured goods meet contract specifications.
Since the creation of SGS Egypt in 1965, awareness of quality has been growing in step with the international management evolution.
This certification and audit mechanism involves inspection, testing, certification and verification. Inspection means verifying that the quantity, weight and quality of traded goods meet agreed specifications. Product quality and performance are tested according to various health, safety and regulatory standards. Certification means checking systems or services to ensure that they meet the requirements set by standardisation bodies, for instance, ISO 900:2000 Quality Management System (QMS), or by SGS clients.
This package of services covers every economic activity from agriculture to manufacturing, from tourism to environment services.
SGS Egypt entered a public private partnership (PPP) with the Egyptian Organisation for Standardisation and Quality (EOS) to upgrade EOS labs and train its personnel.
"This project will benefit textile manufacturers and exporters". Osman Mohamed Osman, chairman of SGS Egypt told the Gazette.
"Now their output is certified here, there is no need to send samples abroad. Consequently, the time factor is reduced by 60 per cent and cost is slashed by 40 per cent" Osman added.
"To support Egypt's exports which were worth $22.02 billion in fiscal year 2006-2007, a lab to detect residues of pesticides in foodstuffs is being built at a cost of LE 10 million ($1.84 million)", Osman said.
Audit and certification services are not only a measurement tool, but also a building block for continuous improvement. Many firms wait for problems to arise before solving them. But through this mechanism, prevention is better than cure.
"The concept of monitoring is important as a step towards reducing road accidents. According to a study by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, defective vehicles and drivers under the influence of drugs cause 85 per cent of road accidents in this country." Osman explained.
"In collaboration with the Ministries of Tourism and the Interior, we provide the means to run spot checks on tour buses in order to minimise the risk of accident. This PPP facility includes checking vehicles and testing drivers for alcohol and drugs". Osman said
Ahmed Moukhtar
Address: 1 Osman Road, Osman Bridge extension
El Harraneya, El Mariouteya - Haram
159 Orman - Giza  Cairo
Phone: +202 3384 28 11
Fax: +202 3382 35 37
The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognised as the global benchmark in quality and integrity.
With more than 48'000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1’000 offices and laboratories around the world.