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Navigating Testing, Inspection and Certification for Export Growth

Navigating Testing, Inspection and Certification for Export Growth

Testing, Inspection, and Certification processes ensure product quality, safety and compliance with regulations, vital for trust and market expansion. However, navigating the complexities of TIC requires a strategic, tech-driven approach.

Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) plays an important role in business, particularly in international trade. It ensures that products meet specific quality and safety standards, which is essential for gaining market acceptance and building customer confidence.

Many countries and regions mandate TIC procedures for imported goods to ensure compliance with local regulations and requirements. Without proper certification and inspection, goods can face barriers or delays at customs, or even be denied entry.

The ever-changing regulatory landscape makes navigating the complexities of TIC a daunting task, even for those used to dealing with it. Regulatory bodies constantly update standards to enhance safety and quality, resulting in a maze of compliance requirements. Expanding into new territories introduces additional regulatory frameworks and cultural nuances, creating further complexity.

These challenges aren’t new but they have intensified due to globalisation, volatile political dynamics and the rapid advancement of technology. UK businesses have also had to contend with the significant upheaval of Brexit.

The UK’s departure from the European Union has introduced onerous new requirements and border checks, made worse by dual compliance burdens arising from regulatory divergence.

SGS is a world-leading testing, inspection and certification company with a 96,000-strong workforce across a network of 2,600 offices and laboratories. In the UK, SGS employs nearly 1,500 people with over 50 facilities and its head office in Ellesmere Port.

Rui Coelho, Product Certification Operations Manager at SGS UK, recently participated in a Discussion Group with Made Members to share his insights on navigating the complexities of TIC processes.

Leveraging Technology for TIC

The MD of a precision engineering company asked whether technology is helping streamline TIC processes. For example, digital platforms offer centralised data management, real-time updates and analytics capabilities, enhancing visibility and control.

Automated testing and inspection systems can also help reduce human errors and ensure consistency in results. IoT devices, such as sensors, RFID Tags and data loggers, can be integrated into TIC workflows for precise data collection and condition monitoring, simplifying communication and data exchange. 

While Artificial Intelligence offers tremendous potential to enhance TIC processes, it also introduces new challenges, Rui noted. AI algorithms rely heavily on data quality for accurate predictive modelling and decision-making. If the input data is incomplete or of poor quality, AI systems may produce inaccurate results.

Ensuring that AI models are reliable and free from biases is equally important. Transparency, fairness, accountability and compliance with data privacy regulations. such as GDPR, becomes crucial when AI is involved in decision-making processes, Rui explained.

“In order to validate and verify AI models, we need to know whether the datasets being used are from reliable, accurate and up-to-date sources.”

Addressing the Disconnect Between Sales and Logistics

A significant challenge in TIC compliance comes from the disconnect between the sales team and logistics departments, a Member noted. This divide often leads to products being sold without proper consideration of the potential TIC requirements.  

Sales teams are primarily focused on meeting revenue targets, customer demands and market penetration. Their goal is to close deals and satisfy needs promptly. TIC requirements may not always be at the forefront of their minds, leading them to overlook or underestimate what’s involved.

The disconnect between sales and logistics can result in supply chain disruptions, like shipment delays, custom rejections and additional costs, that impact the company’s standing with customers.  

To address this, Rui advised companies to provide cross-functional training on TIC requirements standards and discuss the importance of raising issues earlier in the sales process. Integrated systems or workflows that link sales order processing with TIC checks and approvals before shipping can also be beneficial.

Some companies have also integrated TIC assessment into the pre-sales process, where sales teams evaluate TIC requirements before finalising contracts or orders. Indeed, many ERP and sales systems offer automated TIC validation tools that flag potential compliance issues during the order processing stage.

Avoiding Common TIC Pitfalls

Another common pitfall is companies leaving TIC considerations too late in their new product development, Rui noted. Failure to involve TIC requirements from the initial stages of NPD can lead to last-minute validations, approvals or modifications that disrupt timelines, incur additional costs and jeopardise launch schedules.

“Similarly, notifying regulatory bodies late in the development cycle can hinder their ability to validate or approve the TIC processes associated with new products. This can result in extended validation timelines, rework requirements and increased costs,” Rui added.

Another pitfall is trying to handle everything internally, Rui commented. While it's important to have internal expertise and systems, attempting to manage all aspects of TIC without external support can lead to inefficiencies, delays and missed opportunities.

Working with a trusted knowledge partner like SGS UK brings specialised expertise and resources that can help companies understand evolving standards, leverage best practices and navigate evolved standards effectively.

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The opportunity to openly discuss challenges, opportunities and solutions is what makes the Made in Group’s Monthly Industry Meetups so invaluable.

During these captivating virtual events, industry experts, thought leaders, and professionals gather to share knowledge, insights and best practices.

The goal is to foster collaboration, inspire innovation, and drive growth within the manufacturing community.

Each month, we feature three engaging talks from Made Members, focusing on best practices around key themes that shape the future of manufacturing, including Global Trade, People & Skills, Future Factories, and Sustainability.

Presentations are followed by interactive Discussion Groups. These virtual roundtables enable Members to exchange ideas and gain further insights on their chosen topic.

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*Header image from Freepik, inset image from Freepik