Fabian Demicoli

Standardisation for SMEs

 GRTU Director General, Vince Farrugia, has addressed enterprises, civil society and the general public at a conference entitled Awareness Raising on Standardisation. The half day conference was organised as a SMEST event and proved highly successful.

Vince Farrugia through a detailed presentation of the positive and negative aspects of standardisation for SMEs outlined why the GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs supports standardisation for SMEs. It is a proven fact that standards give a direct contribution to the economy, in Germany standards contributed 1% to the growth and in Britain the contributed 13% to the productivity of workers.

 

He explained that there are various benefits to standardisation for the various stakeholders. They contribute to the simplification of the growing variety of products and procedures in human life; to  variety control and the efficient use of materials, energy and human resources; compatibility and inter-changeability; safety, health, protection of life and the environment; reduction of the degree of market uncertainty; protection of consumers and community interests;  fitness for purpose and elimination of trade barriers.

To the GRTU there is no question on the benefits of standards for SMEs. For our members standards mean   less product/process variation; reduced risk in exports and in supply to large customers; legal protection; less rejects and increased efficiency. Good use of standards reduces cost of operation. SMEs, which use standards are more profitable, gain closer contact with large-scale enterprises, export more, are more easily be convinced to use quality management systems, are ready for the next phase (environment, aspects of adhesion, development of the e-Business). Unfortunately micro-Enterprises tend to ignore standards unless competition, clients or authorities force the issue.

It is also true however that to be beneficial standards must be adequate for SMEs. Standards should be adapted to the SME structure to be used effectively. Standards can also be very costly for Small Enterprises if for example they are designed for the large enterprise only; are too complicated (costly) to use effectively in SME, are not understood but used as a basis for contracts or exports; are ignored by the SME, in case that a faulty product leads to a legal dispute.

Within this background GRTU's Director General argued that much can and need be done to improve SMEs access to standardisation.

Write standards thinking small first

Have a balanced representation in Technical Committees

Create an SME helpdesk

  Write explicit scopes

Develop training materials for SMEs and standard developers

Write simplified instruction for SMEs, e.g. checklists

Provide solutions for non and small series production

Organise wide proactive information campaigns on new standards

He further explained that our position on standardisation is further reinforced through our activities at EU level through EuroCommerce, the Association of Retail, wholesale and International Trade Interests, UEAPME, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, and more particularly by NORMAPME. NORMAPME is found within UEAPME and it concentrates on the standardisation aspects with CEN, CENELEC, ETSI and ISO.

Locally GRTU is active through our seat on the Malta Standards Authority, and our presentations in conferences and seminars as the national organisation representing crafts and concentrating primarily on owner managed enterprises.

 

 

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