With the rapid development of industrialization, more and more products are required of various tests for the function, reliability, and life-span of their parts, semi-finished articles and finished ones. The function test simulates actual use by users, the reliability test simulates continuous normal or non-normal use by users to see whether and when faults will occur, and the life-span test simulates normal use for the longest product duration. I hereby count them all in product test. In the international standard set, ISO17025 is the international standard for laboratory accreditation, the latest version being released in May,2005 with a full name of ISO/IEC17025:2005-5-15 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. ISO17025 is the international standard for laboratory management made by ISO/CASCO, the predecessor of which is ISO/IEC Guideline 25:1990 Requirements for testing and calibration laboratories.International laboratory accreditation cooperation (ILAC) is the international ornanization for laboratory accreditation management, consisting of several laboratory accreditation agencies, including China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Accessment (CNAS).
Identifying the quality of a product may be an easy job in the past. For example, a way to identify drum qualitywas to beat them and judge by listening to their sounds. Besides, in the ancient times when there were no modern medical techniques or equipment, doctors detected illnesses through looking at, listening to,asking, and feeling the pulse of a patient.
All such experience is valuable to us, which we call the Chinese tradition. The industrial era originated in the west, however, brings more objectivity supported by scientific devices into testing and inspection. Even ceramics, a product native to China, relies more and more on modern techniques for inspection. Otherwise, neither the displine nor the industry of ceramics can be formed simply through the efforts of an aggregation of antique identifiers.
For manufacturing businesses, product testing is an indispensable step for product development and verification, which is actually taken by many companies as a token for their engineering and developing capacity. Product testing can be conducted by three parties:
1. At client’s premises. Product testing is undertaken by the client party when the client party is stronger in engineering capacity and has more idea about the product, and the manufacturer, on the contrary, is merely an OEM. For clients, this is a favorable option because they can assemble different products for testing or horizontally compare the performance of various products of the same sort. Yet shortcomings may arise for the manufacturer. First, since the manufacturer doesn’t witness the testing, it has no idea about what can be done to improve product functions. Second, testing can occupy a rather long period if the clients are overseas. Last, regular testing is still necessary after mass production. Once the testing suggests negative outcomes,the containment costs will be on the high side.
2. 自身工厂。在自身工厂或采购处进行产品测试当然可以更快捷的了解产品的性能，以及产品需要改善的地方，所以规模稍大的制造厂都会考虑在工厂内建立产品测试中心，如果企业希望走在行业的前列，那么很有可能他们会考虑标准化其实验室或者测试中心，甚至委托中国合格评定国家认可委员会（CNAS）进行认证，以确认其资质，增强其品牌效应，甚至创造盈收，比如IKEA 宜家就专门有指定其供应商来其测试中心进行产品的一些特性测试。但是不足的地方是需要投入大量的财力以购置充足的设备，预留足够的空间来配置设备，同时还需要添置有资质的人员来进行测试，如果公司的财务状况不是十分理想或者公司的发展策略并不是走专业化的线路则十之八九不会考虑建立规范的产品测试中心。
2.At client’s premises. Product testing is undertaken by the client party when the client party is stronger in engineering capacity and has more idea about the product, and the manufacturer, on the contrary, is merely an OEM. For clients, this is a favorable option because they can assemble different products for testing or horizontally compare the performance of various products of the same sort. Yet shortcomings may arise for the manufacturer. First, since the manufacturer doesn’t witness the testing, it has no idea about what can be done to improve product functions. Second, testing can occupy a rather long period if the clients are overseas. Last, regular testing is still necessary after mass production. Once the testing suggests negative outcomes,the containment costs will be on the high side.
Generally speaking, companies prefer producing equipment to testing one because producing machines create outcomes and income that can be directly calculated. In contrast, the income created by testing machines cannot be measured directly. Besides, estimating the risks brought by it is not an easy job, so the investment return either is low or cannot be quantified to the decision-making level.
In practice, there are usually the following ways to calculate the revenue brought by testing. First, estimate the total testing fees charged by third-party institutions within a certain period (say, a year), compare the value with the cost of installing testing machines and compute the return year. Usually the financial sector of each company calculates a deadline. Investment is acceptable when the return year is before the deadline while investment is not advisable when the return year is after the deadline. Second, calculate the negative effects of no testing or the losses brought by product quality problems and compare the value with the investment amount. Third, apart from the quantifying methods, the quantifying includes fast testing results, adjustable methods and adding brilliance to business marketing.
In fact, a considerable number of enterprises adopt the testing pattern of “making do”plus “being careless”. It may be that a company is possessed of a testinmg machine that was installed a rather long time ago, which, therefore, has been deviated from the standard. Or it may be due to the fact that domestic experts in both product standard and machinery are few to list, let alone the boss, who are thus readily fooled by his subordinates. It may also because the standards which originated in Europe or America are recorded in English, the understanding of which requires some English knowledge. Few are people who know English as well as machinery, who therefore conduct testing assisted by translating softwares or the hearsay of other professionals. It may still occur that when there is no standard for reference, testing staff are not willing to and not adept in finding suitable and reasonable parameters for testing.
3.At the third-party testing institution. Third-party testing institutions are demanded when clients have no faith in the testing report by manufacturer which is not specialized in product testing. They are professional in standardized testing due to advantage in hardware preparation and personnel training. Demands of the entire industry provide enough profits to cover the expensive costs for purchasing testing machines. To take REACH as an example, its investment in testing equipment often goes to several millions yuan, which is hardly affordable to ordinary enterprises. Bucause the investment is large; the quotation for testing is often on the high side.
Since third-party testing institutions test according to the standard when unrequired, customers shall provide detailed guidance document it they want a non-standard testing. Yet the case is often that the documents fail to cover all the operating details or the primary intention, which makes it slightly difficult for the institutions to conduct non-standard testing.
Besides, a factory may wait in line before others preceding get tested. As a result, the testing period is prolonged.
Another example is that when I once chatted with an owner of a German enterprise, I learnt that they quite disagreed with the way the domestic third-party testing institutions officially designated test fire doors because they didn’t use seals when testing, the absense of which could lead to obviously controversial results. Since this is a monopoly industry, however, no one dare to raise objection.
Moreover, customers ‘requirements may be deviated from the standard. For example, an institution operates only a life testing on a product as demanded by a client, which, according to the standard, should undertake a load testing before a life testing. Judging from the requirements of the standard, it is irregular.
Still, I find that personnel instability causes another problem that new workers undertake testing before they have a full comprehension of testing methods. The reason is that many institutions sometimes recruit staff who are fully qualified for training pressed by the staff cost. A worker’s understanding of testing standard accrues as time passes and experience increases, which is by no means a enlightment of the standard text. The identifying of corrosion degrees in saly spray testing relies much upon experience, a matter for which different induviduals hold different standards.
Each of the three testings has its own pros and cons. Yet a major problem is that the result of each testing possibly won’t agree with each other. This is a common problem in the third-party testing industry itself: Different testing institutions present different results. I suppose the reasons to be the following:
Being opportunistic. Since it is sample testing, and the testing results are only responsible for the samples, which leads to some opportunistic people’s selectively sending samples or applying for testing items.
Being profit-driven. The testing party or the sample collector deliberately spoils samples or feigns rejected results. Thus the application party is forced to apply for a second or even third time, which prolongs testing period and affcts the quality and image of the applicant’s product.
- 方法不一。排除以上的少数原因，大多数情形下是因为不同方所使用的测试方法或者精度不一致所造成，比如说产品的测试标准里要求产品的运转时间为3-10秒一个周期（Cycle）， 那有可能不同的人员或者不同的测试方采用不同节拍，有人采用3秒，有人采用10秒，都能满足标准的要求，但是显然结果会有影响；同样一种测试方法，德国产的100万的测试仪器和国产的10万的测试仪器，精度也会有一定的差异。这也是为什么在医疗检查行业，医院对于测试结果需要严格把关的原因，不仅仅出于隐私保护，想想一个人本来没有重病，但是一经误诊，会导致什么样的后果？
Being different in method. Apart from the above two factors, the third one that people adopt different testing methods or accuracy accounts for the most cases. For example, when testing a product the operation cycle of which is about 3 to 10 seconds according to its testing standard, some may adopt 3seconds while others may choose 10 seconds, which leads to defferent outcomes. A 1-million-yuan testing machine made in Germany and a 100-thousand-yuan one made in China which execute the same testing procedure may still differ in accuracy. That’s another reason why in the medical examination industry, hospitals need to strictly control the testing results in addition to the protection for privacy. Just imagine what will happen when a person who hasn’t been serious ill is misdiagnosed.
The first and the second factor are mainly subjective, which calls for strengthening the regulation and control of personnel as well as standardizing the management process at the applicant and the testing party. For the third factor, it is necessary to harmonize and standardize the testing methods adopted by each party. For more specific operation, please refer to other articles in the website through keyword searching.
The Great Acknowledge Owes to Ms. Qian Wang, Claire from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, I deeply thank her for her persistence, patience and professionalism and volunteer support. I bless her.