It’s hard NOT to become cynical when you’ve been down the same old road again and again and nothing seems to change. Then someone tells you “it will be different this time.” Should I believe him?
A case in point is the RILA Factory Audit Standard being jammed down the throats of manufacturers of consumer products, starting with electrical products, by some of this countries biggest retailers and their Retail Industry Leaders Association. As you may recall from my previous rants on the subject in NEMA Currents or from my articles in NEMA’s Electroindustry magazine, RILA members have developed the standard “to help manufacturing or contract-packing sites to reliability produce safe, legal products to the quality levels specified by their customers or demanded by consumers.” Modeled on a British Retail Consortium standard for consumer products that has had limited acceptance in the UK and Europe, it prescribes an enormously broad and complex audit program that retailers will impose on their suppliers at will and at great expense.
NEMA and other organizations representing suppliers of consumer electrical products have been telling RILA retailers for more than a year that the standard as currently written is seriously flawed. It will not accomplish RILA’s goal of safer, better products. It is estimated that 80% of the 400+ requirements called out in the standard will not fix quality problems claimed by the retailers. The response to our constructive suggestions has been consistently been “thanks but no thanks.”
Now, RILA is inviting us back to the table. The standard will include supplemental audit guidelines for each category of consumer product covered by the program, starting with electrical products NEMA and several other supplier groups have been invited to help write the electrical product guidelines. We’ve even been encouraged to bring our members to the table. Is this a dream? Could this be happening? Pinch me, please! The industry is planning to sit down with the retailers in late September to offer our best guidance for addressing their product safety and quality concerns. We are bringing electrical product safety, and manufacturing process experts with us. We are hopeful that the retailers will listen this time. Maybe RILA will accept the industry's guidance?
Would I bet the farm on it? Don't think so!!