Total Quality Management for lighter import

E.L.I.A.S. Association is continuously co-ordinating and developing quality and safety standards on international level

E.L.I.A.S., the association of the European Lighter Importers safeguards the interests of 21 member companies of 7 EU countries, representing an estimated 65% of the total volume of imported lighters.

Active co-operation to improve technical standards is one of the main purposes of the association. Especially, in a time of globalisation of markets it is of even greater importance to integrate all the steps of the net value added chain of the manufacture and distribution of lighters. E.L.I.A.S. is in close contact not only with the national and EU institutions but also with the corresponding official institutions in China.

Today China has the most important lighter industry in the world and employs an estimated 250.000 workers in the manufacture, assembly and quality control. There are not only complete lighters made from metal and plastic. Indeed many parts used by the European manufacturers for the final assembly of lighters come from China.

China has a longer history of manufacturing piezo electric disposable lighter than the European manufacturers do. Due to the close co-operation between E.L.I.A.S. and the CCIB (China Commodities Inspection Bureau) more rigourous tests were introduced for lighters in June of this year for all the exported lighters. The manufacturers and their lighters have to pass standards to receive an export license. The manufactuer is now required to have business practises equivalent to ISO norm 9001 or 9002. having satisfied the ISO 9001 or9002 each individual design of lighter must be tested to the ISO9994. once these criteria are met and passed the export certificate is issued for 3 months. The procedure is then repeated after the subsequent 3 and 6 month period. This procedure must be repeated every 3 months. This regulation is even more rigid than that imposed by the EU authorities.

China’s willingness to implement the quality norms which provides consumer protection further shows its meaningful endeavours with regard to the recent membership in the WTO (World Trade Organisation). The regular consultations between the representatives of E.L.I.A.S. and the manufacturers ensures that the manufacturers are coping with the newest developments.

Also the corresponding ISO organisation has recognised this value and is having the next ISO meeting in Hangzhou, China. There were also Chinese E.L.I.A.S. representatives taking part in the last ISO meeting celebrated in Berlin last September. Until now only representatives of the European and American industry were participating in the collaboration of the norms, which means a representation of only an estimated 10% of the Industry world wide.

How serious the members of E.L.I.A.S. are taking the safety and quality matter you can observe taking for instance that the Board members and their respective Companies have independent testing of their products by laboratories such as TUV Germany and BSI in the UK.

In addition to the CCIB tests in China, the Companies carry out testing of products by trained personnel during production and at the point of despatch and again when received in Europe. In addition to this TÜV are often travelling to the producers in China, Vietnam and Malaysia. The standards of these factories have in the meantime to attain TÜV approval. These various quality procedures show a commitment to safety not only for European importers of complete lighters but must prove that the European manufacturers using parts from China and other Far East Counties believe in the quality.

The winner is the consumer. He gets a safe lighter to a competitive price.

The TÜV confirmed upon request of E.L.I.A.S. that until now no new lighter norm were issued Europe-wide. Representatives of TÜV indicated that even when a new European product safety regulation was issued the member states should have a transition period of 2 years before this law could become obligatory.

E.L.I.A.S. European Lighter Importers‘ Association

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