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: 70% of S'pore SMEs had better access to global opportunities after adopting quality standards: Survey

70% of S'pore SMEs had better access to global opportunities after adopting quality standards: Survey

SINGAPORE - In Jurong Cold Store's control room, automated alarms immediately sound when the temperature in its cold room rises above minus 18 to minus 20 deg C.

Just over a year ago, a maintenance team had to monitor the temperature in the cold room in the warehouse in Chin Bee Drive round the clock.

The cold chain logistics company also has guidelines specifying that frozen food items like salmon and wagyu beef cannot be kept in warmer conditions for more than 30 minutes after leaving the cold room and before they are delivered to customers.

Jurong Cold Store introduced these and other measures, which helped improve its quality control processes and in turn attracted more business from overseas clients.

Since adopting an accreditation programme known as the Singapore Standard (SS) 668, the firm has entered new markets such as Chile and Norway, and received queries from China businesses about using its services.

Jurong Cold Store managing director Darren Lee said: "Producers are using our facility to export their goods to Singapore as they trust our system."

The programme was launched last October and includes specific requirements for temperature controls in the cold chain management of chilled and frozen products.

Mr Lee said most of the requirements under the standard are already industry norms.

"But very often, when we get caught up in the day to day, bosses or business owners tend to take shortcuts to make things easier.

"We should take a step back and look at the standards again, and really audit our processes, to ensure food safety," he said.

Jurong Cold Store decided to engage a third-party certification body, which verified that the company had adhered to SS 668 standards.

Quality and standards certifications have contributed to 70 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) gaining better access to exports and international business opportunities, an Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) survey of more than 1,000 companies in March showed. This percentage excludes companies with revenue below $1 million.

The survey also showed that nearly 90 per cent of SMEs which adopted quality and standards infrastructure found that they had a competitive edge as they could differentiate their products and services from their competitors'.

Ms Choy Sauw Kook, EnterpriseSG's director-general, said implementing standards can help companies establish trust with customers.

"It also allows you to differentiate your products from (those of your) competitors as not necessarily everyone has the capability to adopt these standards," she said, adding that these certifications also help brands to boost their image.

She said the company's track record is also an important factor in gaining customers' trust and confidence, but meeting benchmarks gives an added boost.

Singapore actively participates in regional and international standards and accreditation committees, said Ms Choy.

This allows the city-state to contribute to the development of global programmes and help local firms access such schemes for their overseas expansion needs, she added.

Singapore has in the past year established two new mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) – in business continuity and anti-bribery management systems – which bring its total to 28, covering over 100 countries.

The new MRAs will help more companies export their products and services to the Asia-Pacific region.

MRAs work as global passports for enterprises in Singapore, facilitating overseas recognition of their products and services.

The agreements also mean there is no need for duplicate retesting, reinspection or recalibration of their goods when these items enter overseas markets.

The Singapore Standards Council has reviewed and developed over 100 standards, including 62 new ones, in the past year to help companies build in-demand capabilities and gain a competitive edge abroad.

Mr Robert Chew, chairman of the Singapore Standards Council, said the council will focus on strengthening the quality and standards ecosystem in digitalisation, sustainability and resilience.

These include the development in the next three years of standards in areas such as container logistics, sustainable packaging and aquaculture.

The council facilitates the development of standards, which are administered by EnterpriseSG, while the Singapore Accreditation Council ensures the reliability and credibility of third-party bodies that verify companies' implementation of these standards.

Singapore Accreditation Council chairman Tan Kai Hoe said the national accreditation body will continue to pursue initiatives and programmes that support the growth of local enterprises and provide them with a platform to grow their businesses.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.