Frequently Asked Questions about TBS, Standardization and Quality Assurance
1. What is TBS?
Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) is Tanzania’s national standards body formerly established by the Standards Act No. 3 of 1975, which was later repealed and replaced by the Standards Act No. 2 of 2009. It is a parastatal organization under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and its broad mandate is to promote standardization and quality assurance in industry and commerce sectors. TBS is Tanzania’s member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
2. What is ISO?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. It is a non-governmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. Currently various TBS technical committees provide input to international standardization through different ISO technical committees.
3. What are the TBS products?
Tanzania Bureau of Standards offers the following products:
- Standards mark licences
- Tested product certificates
- Laboratory test reports
- Quality control training certificates
4. What is a standard and how are standards developed?
A standard can be defined as a set of technical definitions and guidelines, “how to” instructions for designers, manufacturers, and users, aiming at promoting safety, reliability, productivity and efficiency in almost every industry. Standards are a vehicle of communication for producers and users. They serve as a common language, defining quality and establishing safety criteria. They are written by experts with knowledge and expertise in a particular field who sit on various technical committees.
Standards are created by bringing together all interested parties such as manufacturers, consumers and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service. TBS has a directorate mandated to formulate standards. Under this directorate, there are two departments and more than 100 standards committees.
Most standards are prepared at the request of industry. However, requests may come from individuals, committees, professional organizations, government agencies, industry groups, public interest groups, or from a TBS division or section. The request is first referred to the appropriate directorate for consideration. The directorate then assigns the request to the relevant technical committee or determines that a new standards committee must be formed. Once an appropriate committee has concluded that there is enough interest and need the standard developing process is initiated.
5. What are the benefits of standards?
Standards are a powerful tool for supporting innovation and increasing productivity. Effective standardization promotes forceful competition and enhances profitability. Standards allow a company to:
- attract and assure customers;
- demonstrate market leadership;
- create competitive advantage;
- develop and maintain best practices;
- comply with national legislations.
Standards are a powerful marketing tool. Compliance with Tanzania Standards is an effective means of differentiation in a competitive marketplace. In addition, manufacturing products or supplying services that conform to appropriate standards maximizes their compatibility with those manufactured or offered by others, thereby increasing potential sales and widespread acceptance. As consumers become better informed about their choices, conformity to recognized standards becomes increasingly important.
Standards are a respected badge of quality. Certification marks are earned by businesses whose products and practices consistently prove conformity to relevant standards. These marks (such as the Tanzania Standards Mark of Quality) are easily recognizable and act as badges of quality, safety and performance.
Standards can strengthen infrastructure. Standardization can deliver measurable benefits when applied within the infrastructure of a company itself. Effective communication along the supply chain and with legislative bodies, clients and customers is good business. Business costs and risks can be minimized, internal processes streamlined and communication improved. Standardization promotes interoperability, providing a competitive edge necessary for effective worldwide trading of products and services.
6. Where and how can I purchase Tanzania Standards?
All Tanzania Standards can be purchased from the TBS library. The entire collection of published standards can be searched on TBS website via the TBS Standards Catalogue under e-TBS Menu. This function can be found in the upper right corner of each TBS web page. You can search by title, standard number or ICS.
7. What is Certification?
Certification is a third-party attestation that a product, service, person or management system meets specified requirements. By giving the purchaser confidence that a product or service meets the requirements, certification facilitates trade both within countries and between countries. Tanzania Bureau of Standards runs four certification schemes, namely TBS Mark Certification Scheme, Batch Certification Scheme for Imports, Tested Product Certification Scheme and Management systems registration scheme.
8. What are the procedures if one needs TBS certification?
Certification process starts with an application to the Director General from the producer. Before logging the application, the producer must make sure that the premise through which operations are carried out is to the standards and has been passed by relevant regulatory and/or health/safety authorities. Above the premise is the product itself which includes packaging and labeling. In most cases, or as is often the case, the producer is asked to obtain standards from TBS before embarking on the whole process. It must be clear that certification is done against a particular standard, so acquiring a standard is obligatory.
9. What is accreditation?
Accreditation is the conformity assessment of bodies that perform conformity assessment services. It is a process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented. Various TBS laboratories are accredited against ISO/IEC 17025:2005, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories and others are in different stages of accreditation by the South African Accreditation System (SANAS).
10. Does TBS carry out inspection to find out if there are inferior goods over the market place?
Yes. TBS conducts day to day inspections and sample collection. This includes batch inspections at the ports and other entry points like the airports, Holili, Horohoro, Namanga, Tanga Port, Sirari and at importers’ premises. TBS also conducts routine surveillance inspections to clients licensed to use the ‘tbs’ mark and those certified under tested product certification schemes. Pre-licence/certificate inspections to new applicants under “tbs” and tested product certification are also conducted.
For certified companies, TBS conducts about 4 inspections annually. The first is conducted at the factory upon receipt of certification request from a client. Upon certification, TBS conducts at least three inspections either at the premise or through point of purchase without the knowledge of the producer. This is done to ensure that the products adhere to standards all the time.
11. After the certificate has been granted, how long can one hold it?
The certificate period is one year only, each year end the client has to seek for renewal to ensure that each certified client has a chance at mandatory level to be inspected once every year in case by chance the client missed to be inspected in between.
12. Why is it that not all goods carry the standards mark?
The standard mark is for goods manufactured within the country. For imported goods, TBS issues certificates for those goods that have passed TBS tests. Any consumer doubting whether such goods are in good order on not can enquire through TBS offices. The consumer is also encouraged to look for marks of quality of the country from which particular goods come from.
13. How does TBS help SMEs?
Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs), especially those nurtured by the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO) or recognized by the government get TBS certification services freely. Such SMEs are not supposed to pay any certification fee. TBS also trains SMEs in various regions on safety and quality production.