The term COC can mean two different things in lean six sigma management. It can either refer to “cost of conformance” or a certificate of conformity. Since “cost of conformance” has already been defined on at the link listed above, this article will discuss certificates of conformity.

What Is a Certificate of Conformity?

A certificate of conformity is a document issued by an authorized party that states goods meet required standards or specifications. These certificates come from the manufacturer or a third-party inspector, such as an independent laboratory.

Purchasers often require certificates of conformity before buying goods, and many countries demand that certain goods have a certificate of conformity before allowing them to pass customs. Certificates of conformity help facilitate trading by providing consumer confidence that imported goods meet regulatory standards. A manufacturer will often not be able to place their goods in a market without a certificate of conformity.

A certificate of conformity should include the following information:

1. Product identification, which will describe the product covered by the COC.2. Importer or manufacturer identification, which includes the business name, address, and contact information for the importer or domestic manufacturer.

3. A list of all regulations and specifications the product must meet.

4. Date and place where the goods were made. This information should include the month, and year the product was manufactured, along with the city, state, and country of the factory.

5. Identity of the entity issuing the certificate. If a third-party inspector issued the COC, it must include the issuer’s name, address, and telephone number.

6. Date and place where the testing was performed.

7. Contact information for the individual maintaining records of the COC. This data should include the person’s full name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address.

Three Benefits of a Certificate of Conformity

1. Facilitates International Trade and Domestic Commerce

The existence of certificates of conformity and authorized bodies to issue them let purchasers know that the goods they are buying meet the regulatory standards of the marketplace. The data listed in the COC also provides information necessary to pursue legal action if the goods do not meet standards. These assurances make it more likely for vendors to buy products from manufacturers.

2. Helps Prevent Defective Goods From Reaching the Marketplace

If imported goods cannot pass customs without a COC, it becomes difficult for products that don’t meet regulatory standards to enter the stream of commerce.

3. Reduces Litigation

By establishing that goods meet the regulatory standards of a particular national market, COC helps limit disputes between manufacturers and vendors. The COC establishes what the seller represents about their goods to sellers and provides assurance the goods conform to those standards.

Why Are Certificates of Conformity Important to Understand?

The most basic reason manufacturers need to understand certificates of conformity is that their goods will not be able to enter many foreign markets without them. Furthermore, even numerous domestic purchasers will not buy goods without a COC.

For the lean six sigma manager, failing to meet the COC requirements will create multiple sources of waste. In addition, goods that fail to meet regulatory standards will be challenging to sell or will only command a reduced price. Finally, transporting goods that can’t pass customs or sit in port for extended periods can cause shipping costs to zoom and cause supply chain disruptions.

The cost of obtaining certificates of conformity is one of the critical components of calculating a firm’s cost of conformance and is an essential step toward effective quality control.

Industry Example of a Certificate of Conformity

Suppose an airline buys fan blades for the engines of one of their jets. These turbines will require x-rays that show no cracks or defects because such flaws can cause engine failure. The turbines will need a COC to pass customs in most national markets. In the United States, this requirement means the turbines must meet FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) standards.

Best Practices When Thinking About Certificates of Conformity

1. Remember that a COC does not specify test conditions. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. While a certificate of conformity provides useful information and acts as a legal promise from the manufacturer that the goods meet specified requirements, most COCs do not include any information about testing methods. A smart purchaser should at least inquire about the testing methods used by the issuer of a COC and will ideally require sound testing practices and data.

2. Consider a certificate of conformity as part of the cost of conformance. A certificate of conformity is simply a hurdle that a firm must pass to sell many types of goods. The price that a manufacturer must pay to a third-party tester or an internal quality control team is only a small part of the cost of conformance.

3. Understand the party issuing the COC. Some certificates of conformity come from third-party entities, while the manufacturer’s quality control team can also issue certificates. Remember that third-party issuers are more likely to be objective, while self-authentication by the manufacturer can heavily depend on a firm’s reputation and position in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions About Certificates of Conformity

When should a purchaser ask about a COC?

Buyers should require a COC for goods that create a high risk of harm or goods that face extensive regulation in the marketplace. Another reason to seek a COC is for goods that can cause significant losses to users if they fail.

Who issues Certificates of Conformity?

These certificates can be issued by either the manufacturer or a third-party tester. When a country requires goods to have a COC to pass customs, they frequently require a specific third-party issuer.

What is the difference between a COC and a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

While these certificates have a similar function in that they assure purchasers about the quality and conformity of goods to specific standards, the COA is significantly more stringent. The COA requires the issuer to record test measurements by specific methods and will include more granular information, such as batch numbers that enable traceability.

Certificates of Conformity Are Required to Enter Many Markets

In many markets, providing some kind of certificate of conformity is a minimum requirement to sell goods. Understanding the certification requirements by national regulatory bodies and markets where purchasers will insist on such assurances before they buy is an important step toward becoming a successful vendor. Creating processes that ensure your firm’s goods will meet these certification standards is an important goal in limiting waste and maximizing profit for any lean six sigma manager.

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