Awareness is on the rise
THE Industry Department's quality assurance unit says it has noticed rising quality awareness among local companies.
Richard Chan, who heads the unit, said the message had got through.
''So far, the signs are encouraging. Obviously, there are hundreds of companies and factories in Hong Kong, but they seem to be much more aware of the importance of quality than before,'' Mr Chan said.
The number of organisations inquiring about gaining ISO 9000 certification showed how the importance of quality had been grasped.
''There are hundreds of firms asking about it, which indicates how important they think it has become to meet international quality standards,'' Mr Chan said.
''I think the ISO scheme has been well received here because it gives a framework and guidelines to follow which allow people to improve all areas of quality in their firm in a practical way.'' Mr Chan said market demands required ISO certification.
''Firms overseas want their suppliers to have ISO because of the great importance they place on quality in terms of products and services,'' he said.
''Manufacturers in Hong Kong have realised that in the general commercial climate today they have to meet high quality standards in their products.'' As part of promotional work, the quality assurance unit organises seminars and distributes leaflets and newsletters.
Mr Chan said it was a big investment in time and money for firms to introduce quality levels demanded by ISO, but it paid dividends.
''When a company starts increasing quality levels, it is something new to them and is a big step but, once everyone is involved and it is up and running, the differences show,'' he said.
One big benefit some firms had gained was improved morale at work.
''It is because the firms have a good management system in place and a lot more co-operation in the workplace,'' Mr Chan said.
''This, in turn, stops people wanting to leave the company. Staff turnover falls.'' In future, the unit would continue stressing the importance of quality in all areas of business and commerce.
Mr Chan said there was much to be achieved.
''Quality is one of the government's priorities and that is why we keep promoting it,'' he said.
''We will keep telling people in the hope that more get the message.
''Systems like ISO 9000 are important in improving quality, but we need to tell business leaders that motivation and training of staff in general are also important.
''ISO is the foundation, but we also need to develop a quality culture where people are proud to produce quality products and services.'' In practical terms, the government also plays its part in setting quality levels by running a standards and calibration laboratory.
Firms could bring in tools and products to check whether they measured up to international technical standards.
There is an information library on international product standards.
In addition, there is a laboratory accreditation scheme that checks the competence of outside testing agencies.