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Standards, Weights and Measures:
Quality Management System and Certification
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Marking and quality certification of products and services have become very important in today's rapidly changing business scenario. This facilitate the production of quality goods/services as well as make them available for the satisfaction of consumers at large. Because of this, consumers get better choice and assurance of consistency in quality of product/ service with its timely delivery. Further, they also get monitoring of the firm's supplies and clear indication of its capabilities. Hence, their time and money is saved in doing assessment of the suppliers. This system of certification and marking is also beneficial for producers as well. This helps them to gain a competitive edge in domestic as well as global market. Disruptions created to their routine due to multiple assessment by various customers is also reduced. They become more liable to produce quality goods matching international standards.

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the main authority which has been promoting the industrial development in the country by formulation of National Standards, Operation of Product Certification Scheme, Management Systems Certification Schemes and Training.

The Product Certification Scheme of BIS aims to provide the Third Party Guarantee of quality, safety and reliability of products to the ultimate consumers. Under the scheme, BIS grants licences to manufacturers after assuring that their product quality conform to the prescribed national standards/ specifications. The certification permits the licensees to use ISI certification mark, known as Standard Mark, on their product. This conformity is ensured by regular surveillance of the licensee's performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn from both the market and factory.

ISI Mark holds a good brand image in the eyes of consumers as it gives assurance about the quality of product. Therefore, the consumer as well as organized purchaser gives preference to the ISI marked products over non-ISI products.

The Product Certification Scheme is basically voluntary in nature and is largely based on ISO Guide 28, which provides general rules for third party certification system for determining conformity of product quality with standards. It covers varied industrial disciplines such as agriculture, textiles, electronics, metal products, rubber and plastic, automotives, leather, wood, paper and pulp products, etc.

However, for a number of items affecting health and safety of the consumer and those of mass consumption, this Scheme has been made mandatory by the Government through various statutory measures such as Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, Mines Act, Gas Cylinders Rules, along with Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. Some of such items brought under mandatory certification are LPG Cylinders, pressure stoves, Self ballasted lamps for general lighting services (commonly known as CFL), Processed cereal based complementary foods for infants, Sweetened ultra high temperature treated condensed milk, skimmed milk powder, constant speed compression ignition (diesel) engines for general purposes (up to 20 KW), Refillable Seamless Steel Gas Cylinders, clinical thermometers, packaged drinking water, different types of cement, etc.

To complement and support the activity of product certification, BIS have established a chain of 8 laboratories in five regions, that is, Sahibabad, Kolkata, Mohali, Mumbai and Chennai as well as a network of 33 Branch Offices set up in the State Capitals or major industrial towns. Out of this, six laboratories have been accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for their testing facilities. Electrical Calibration Laboratory at Sahibabad has been accredited for its calibration facility.

BIS has also introduced Certification Schemes for foreign manufacturers and Indian importers. Under these schemes, foreign manufacturers can seek certification from BIS for marking their products with BIS Standard Mark and Indian importers can also seek BIS certification for applying BIS Standard Mark on the products being imported into the country. Under the BIS Certification scheme for foreign manufacturers, 65 licences have been granted and three licences have been granted to importers. Besides, there is BIS Certification Scheme for Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery which has been launched to protect consumers against any fraudulent practices due to irregular gold quality. It, thus, instills confidence in the consumer about the purity of gold jewellery and seeks to develop India as a leading gold market centre in the world. The scheme is voluntary in nature and operates through BIS network of regional and branch offices located across the country. Under this, a jeweller has to obtain certification mark licence from BIS to get his jewellery hallmarked from a BIS recognised Assaying and Hallmarking Centre. The recognition of these Centres is done by BIS after ensuring that the Centre are following BIS Criteria for Hallmarking based on laid down norms for sampling, assaying and hallmarking as well as have adequate testing facilities, trained and competent manpower.

Another major Scheme being operated by BIS is the Quality Management Systems Certification Scheme, which is operating as per IS/ISO 9001:2000 standard. The scheme was launched in 1991 covering a wide range of industry as well as service sectors including engineering, chemicals, pharmaceutical, cement, ceramics, food, textiles, automotives, mechanical, metallurgical, electronics, aeronautics, hospitals, financial, banking services, construction, hospitals, wholesale and retail trade, education and training, hotel, power, printing, telecommunications, testing laboratories and information technology. This scheme has received accreditation in 23 technology sectors from the Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) of Netherlands, an international accreditation body of repute and in 9 technology sectors from Quality Council of India (QCI). In simpler terms, accreditation refers to certification of the certification body.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies, which aims to promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity. The results of ISO technical work are published as International Standards. The ISO 9000 family of standards represents an international consensus on good management practices with the aim of ensuring that the organization can deliver the product or services that meet the consumer’s quality requirements. BIS is a founder member of ISO and represents India in ISO.

ISO 9001:2000 is one of the core standards in the family of ISO 9000 standards which deals with the requirements of Quality Management Systems. The main benefits of implementing these requirements and getting certification licence under Quality Management Systems Certification Scheme are:- (i) provides an opportunity to increase value to the activities of the organization; (ii) provides clear indication of firm's capabilities as well as strong evidence of its commitment to quality; (iii) improves the performance of processes/activities continually; (iv) leads to less material wastage, production down time, rework, etc. through an increase in 'quality know-how' and efficiency; (v) provides satisfaction to consumers by assuring them quality of products; (vi) facilitates proper implementation of statutory and regulatory requirements related to products/services; (vii) facilitates better resource management; etc.

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