Have you ever heard of ‘conformity assessment’? It refers to testing products, institutions, services, and other things as to whether they meet suitable fixed standards and certifying their safety and convenience. Despite my explanation, I think most students will still wonder what kind of job it is and feel unfamiliar with it. Conformity Assessment Management Team is a job that helps people live with ease and maintains security, and an important job that is indispensable. Therefore, I will introduce ‘Conformity Assessment Management Team’ which is not well-known through an interview to advertise it.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
1. What exactly is the task of the ‘Conformity Assessment Management Team’?
- The task of Conformity Assessment Management Team can be divided into three parts. The first task is managing the testing body and inspection body accredited by KOLAS. The Conformity Assessment Body such as Korea Conformity Laboratory, where I work, establishes and manages quality management systems and monitors the department conducting the testing or inspection. The second task is conducting conformity assessments in person, fulfilling the task of proficiency testing provider and some standard substance production institution. The third one is cooperation with the relevant authorities such as the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Ministry of Science, and ICT.
I think ‘conformity’ and ‘conformity assessment’ will be unfamiliar to you. The generally the word ‘conformity’ means ‘fulfilling of requests,’ and ‘conformity assessment’ is the evaluation process of checking and proving whether the standards satisfy with standards set in an organization or society. Thus, we can see it frequently around us. It is utilized in daily life, in industry, and technology regulation by law. For example, observing traffic signals is the rule that society set when we cross the street or drive. Therefore, checking whether we follow the rules is also a conformity assessment that we can learn in daily life. I will use the example of toys as a case of an industrial aspect and technology regulation by law. The toys that children play with are representative. There should not be harmful components in toys and in the case of young children, we must consider the probability of misuse of products not to get them stuck in children’s throats if they put the toys into their mouths. The related department establishes the standards considering these subjects, and we assess their conformities and whether toys made in the industrial market meet standards.
2. How is the conformity assessment conducted?
- If the enterprise asks to assess the products, we assess using the analysis equipment according to the existing procedures. The results of evaluations are issued and sent to the requested enterprise in the form of a test report or certificate.
Conformity assessment is the task that deals with various areas such as testing, calibration, inspection, proficiency testing, reference material, medical testing, and product certification, so each process has some differences, and some include evaluation and testing procedures about the enterprise and process. Also, like at KCL where I work, conformity assessment evaluates the requested products of outside enterprise by a third person, and there is direct evaluation like QC or QA conducted by the enterprise in person.
3. What do you think is the most necessary talent when you conduct conformity assessment?
- Testing and inspection which is the main task of conformity assessment management team must evaluate the products of different industries properly such as chemistry, biology, electricity, and machines considering predetermined procedures. Thus, we need skills applicable to analytical technology and knowledge about analysis and measurement. Also, we need a fair attitude that applies coherent standards since we are in a position that evaluates other enterprises’ products by customer’s requirements or relational statute. Conformity assessment management center doesn’t conduct testing or inspection directly, but we need an open mind that applies requirements to the situation because there are so many tasks of evaluation and judging and each enterprise is under different circumstances.
4. What do you think about the coming vision and future expandability of the conformity assessment management team?
- Our expandability is inexhaustible. We call it to test and certificate business in Korea, and the TIC industry in a foreign country. According to the related report, it grows consistently at a rate of about 5~10% every year. Also, new test and certificate areas are being expanded continuously. The tasks of the conformity assessment body are testing, calibration, inspection, medical testing, proficiency testing, standard material, certification, and management system certification before, but recently, qualification, validation, verification, and biobank have been introduced.
5. What is the most challenging or tricky part while conducting the conformity assessment?
- Testing/inspection or evaluation/judging is generally a position evaluating others in view of a third person, so the credibility of the test report or evaluation result cannot be guaranteed if the result of measuring is uncertain. Hence, it is tricky to prepare to prove evidence and process of checking to have confidence in the results that I have conducted.
6. What do you think is the most significant standard?
- Whether I conduct a testing/inspection task or evaluation/judging task because it is the task that evaluates other enterprise’s products or other institutions, the attitude of impartiality and confidentiality of customer’s information is the most important.
7. I know that you have to conduct the certification according to a set standard, is the standard for each product different? Then, what standard each product has?
- There are performances required in accordance with each product’s purpose of use and the extent of users. Considering these matters, we make the prior decision on the standards of each product. In special cases like children’s products, we establish the standards considering not only required performances but also the extent of children’s misuse. For an example of a mask that how differs from the standards applied to each product, cloth masks are managed to industrial products, and only general physical/chemical performance of cloth is required. However, yellow dust masks are managed to medical supplies, and they have different standards such as KF80 and KF94 under the degree of how much particles pass for that purpose, and we regulate other performances.
8. What is an example of products that you conduct safety certifications as an activity of conformity assessment?
- As a representative example of safety certification, we manage a safety certification system called KC certification, and it is conducted by country about children’s products, clothes, electrical goods, etc. The government regulates legally to conduct KC certification before selling products that can harm the safety and health of the public and evaluate the performance of products through testing and inspection conducted by our researcher. The representative examples of our KC certification are children’s products such as a toy, car seats, strollers, clothes, and water supplies.
9. I think there can be Gachon students who are interested in conformity assessment through this interview. What kind of study is helpful? Also, what kind of people do you recommend?
- I want to recommend to students who are interested in QC, QA, testing, and inspection tasks. But it is the case that people confuse testing/inspection with research and development, so you have to keep it in mind. You must know that the research and development are conducting the tasks of searching for new things like graduate students, and testing and inspection are accompanied by repetitive tasks like analysis center in distributive researcher.
The helpful study is direct experience handling the measurement equipment. The analysis task utilized measuring equipment such as engineer chemical analysis, and acquiring related certificates, quality control technicians or major certificates for each department can be a positive point. Also, Research Institute execute education of testing certification for support of state business, and some schools execute the related education for industry-academic cooperation recently. Such education also assists you to understand the industry of testing and certification.
So far, we have heard a story of Gi Ram Lee who conducts conformity assessments. As I mentioned before, conformity assessment is not a well-known job, but a necessary job for the safety, health, and convenience of the public. Thus, I think it is good for the students who are doing a similar type of study or who are interested in this job to study consulting the senior’s interview and advice, not just learning the new job simply. At last, let’s be grateful to the conformity appraisers who work for our living with good institutions, services, and people.