A Day in the Life of a BBA
Technical Assessor: What to
expect from Factory Surveillance
Visits.

When you produce a product or system, is that production a single production run, or do you intend to run that process more than once, producing large numbers of that product as an ongoing source of revenue for your business over a longer period of time? It’s probably the latter. No manufacturer invests the substantial amounts of money into research and development, production processes, raw materials, and procedures for a product to be made once only.

And so, neither would our Agrément Certificate only be relevant for a single point in time.

When we talk about an ‘ongoing commitment to quality’, we mean that for the lifecycle of that certified product, we have an obligation to ensure that the product continues to comply against the criteria it was originally tested, and which it is being verified against.

That’s why, as standard practice of the Agrément Certificate, we agree a Quality Plan with our clients which includes the chain of events that take place after certification to ensure that you have confidence that the product, you’re producing remains verified and credible against the certificate awarded.

The BBA has a team of Auditors and Technical Assessors that travel throughout the UK and, in fact, the world, working with manufacturers to support their ongoing certified product development efforts. This blog takes a look at a day in the life of a BBA Technical Assessor, and introduces you to BBA Technical Assessor, Manochehr.

About Manochehr Salek: BBA Technical Assessor

Manochehr is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and registered with the Engineering Council. Having joined the BBA just over 8 years ago, Manochehr’s role is to regularly visit clients to ensure they remain complaint with the terms of the Agreed Quality Plan and that the products they’re producing are identical to the ones we tested and certified, and therefore still consistent with the original Certificate criteria it was verified against.

What does a BBA Technical Assessor do?

When customers originally apply for a BBA Certificate, as part of the BBA’s due diligence processes, we perform an initial assessment of the production facility to assess the facilities themselves, the products being produced, and the quality management systems that governs that organisation.

Our visits then take place regularly after certification has been achieved as part of the ongoing surveillance schedule agreed with the BBA. The dates of the surveillance visits are agreed with clients in advance and an Audit Plan is issued. The audits start with an opening meeting where the importance of confidentiality and impartiality are stressed and an overall plan for the audit is discussed. Typically, the actual audits begin with detail checking of the content of the Agreed Quality Plan (AQP) with clients to ensure no changes have been made or are planned for. If there are, these would be noted for relevant corrective action to be taken by the client and the BBA. Thereafter, available objective evidence, to confirm compliance with the AQP, in areas such as incoming raw material, traceability, production process, in process and final inspection, calibration, packaging, labelling, use of BBA symbol, training and complaints will be assessed. Any issues arising will again be noted for appropriate corrective / preventative action by client and or the BBA. The surveillance audits end with a closing meeting where any issues arising from the audit can be finally discussed and agreed.

These surveillance audits are of particular interest to the client’s dedicated BBA Project Manager since the Technical Assessor is their eyes and ears on the factory production location in real time acting as an important link between them and the client.

What can I expect if an Assessor visits my site?

It’s important to note that BBA Assessors are not there to accuse or incriminate, but rather work with customers to ensure they remain compliant with the terms of the Agreed Quality Plan as well as the ongoing quality in production of certified products for as long as they hold a BBA Certificate.

Our Assessors understand that significant amount of information which are shared by our clients are sensitive and confidential, hence the absolute importance with which BBA treats confidentiality, enabling our clients to be as open and transparent with us as they need to be, so that any issues that are identified, are resolved in the best way possible.

How long does an Audit typically take?

Depending on the complexity of the product and the production process being assessed, which may include multiple product certifications and quality plans, in general, a surveillance audit is completed within a day.

What does the inspection of the Production-side of a surveillance visit entail?

Here’s what Manochehr explains.

‘Once audit visit dates have been agreed, and audit plan is sent to the client, I arrive on site at the agreed date and time. The audits start with an opening meeting where the importance of confidentiality and impartiality are stressed and an overall plan for the audit is discussed. Typically, the actual audits begin with detail checking of the content of the Agreed Quality Plan (AQP) with clients to ensure no changes have been made or are planned for. If there are, there would be noted for relevant corrective action to be taken by the client and the BBA. Thereafter, objective evidence, to confirm compliance with the AQP, in areas such as incoming raw material, traceability, production process, in process and final inspection, calibration, packaging, packaging, labelling, use of BBA symbol, training and complaints will be assessed. Any issues arising will be noted for appropriate corrective / preventative action by client and or BBA. The surveillance audits end with a closing meeting where any issues arising can be discussed.

What else do you assess on a surveillance visit?

As well as confirming the content of the Agreed Quality Plan for correctness and the required objective evidence, a general walk around the plant may also highlight some relevant quality control and or housekeeping issues. These would also be discussed with the client as they may have an adverse effect on the production of the certified products.

What happens after a surveillance visit?

The surveillance audits end with a closing meeting where any issues arising from the audit can be discussed. We discuss and agree the required corrective and or preventative actions (if there are any required) with the clients and list these in a Variation Report which is issued to the client. An audit report is then prepared and sent to the Project Manager to ensure he is aware of any developments.

BBA Technical Assessors are highly experienced in identifying areas of improvement since they see many good quality control systems on daily basis. This experience and attention to detail will benefit all of our clients during the surveillance audits. They benefit from further assurance that their quality control procedures are put to test regularly by an independent third-party auditor.

‘We understand that inspections and audits can appear to be an intrusive experience, and we’re not here to spy or catch our clients. We have an obligation to ensuring consistent quality, and when issues arise, we work with our customers to resolve them wherever possible. We work with them to ensure the best outcome that upholds the importance and value of the Agrément Certificate, while at the same time, supporting the client’s efforts to succeed,’ Manochehr adds.

For more information about our Audit and Inspection services…

Click here.