In times of crisis, a reliable Quality Infrastructure is an essential cornerstone for the economy and society, especially for health protection. The current “Corona Monitor” of the QI-FoKuS initiative of BAM and TU Berlin, supported by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, assesses and analyses the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on conformity assessment and the business operations of conformity assessment bodies in Germany. To this end, in a first round in June, testing laboratories, inspection, certification, and other conformity assessment bodies were surveyed about the economic consequences and the impact on their ability to operate.
The results of the survey showed that, on average, all types of conformity assessment bodies are affected by a decline in orders - not only in Germany but also in their sales markets abroad. Many are only able to work under restrictions. Certification bodies are most affected here. Obstacles cited are difficulties in gaining access to customers, travel restrictions, and a lack of staff. As a result of the pandemic, investment activities are also currently being postponed by almost half of the surveyed conformity assessment bodies.
Expectations regarding the further development are very different. Every third conformity assessment body sees its existence threatened if there is no change in the situation within the next six months.
The situation is more positive for medical laboratories: Almost three quarters were able to react quickly to the pandemic and took up new activities or strengthened existing ones. The proportion of those which had a contingency plan before the COVID-19 pandemic was similarly high. For other conformity assessment bodies, this was significantly less frequent the case.
And: The pandemic is driving digitization in the conformity assessment industry as a whole. For more than half of the fields of activity, a strong or moderate influence is reported.
The full results of the survey can be downloaded here.
Further information can be obtained from Claudia.Koch@bam.de.
The survey is to be repeated at regular intervals to reflect possible dynamic developments in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and to be able to inform interested parties in a timely manner. Data are currently being collected in other countries for an international comparative study.
QI-FoKuS stands for “Quality Infrastructure - Research for Conformity Assessment and Safety” and is carried out by the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in cooperation with the Technische Universität Berlin. The initiative is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
The development and economic importance of conformity assessment in Germany has been little researched to date, not least due to insufficient empirical data. QI-FoKuS aims to close this gap in perspective by using online surveys among German companies and conformity assessment bodies. The results of the analyses can serve not only as decision guidance for actors in politics but are also a valuable source of information for companies, conformity assessment bodies, and the German Accreditation Body helping them to better assess current and future challenges and to react to them.