Product quality, packaging and delivery standards are related issues. Weakness in anyone of these factors is sufficient to make country’s position in the World markets vulnerable. In the case of India, unfortunately, weaknesses in all these factors exist. Indian companies, therefore, have overcome weaknesses in all these areas.
Improving product quality: In India, quality assurance continues to be low priority in any sector. It is particularly unfortunate that major part of the quality problem in India arises out of attitudinal problem. It is not as though Indian firms cannot make quality products conforming to international standards. The problem is that as a general rule, producers are lax when it comes to quality. As a result, the markets naturally slip away from their hands. The image of Indian products, barring a few exceptions, is quite poor. Indian firms in international business have to unfortunately start with this handicap. Decades ago, Japanese goods had this problem. Japanese goods meant shoddiness to world consumers. But by paying sustained attention to quality, Japan totally erased that image and became a top ranker in word markets. If Indian entrepreneurs shed their alibis and concentrate on quality they can become world class manufacturers.
Now things are changing for the better. The keen interest Indian companies are showing in recent times in quality-related natters, including international quality certification, is largely traceable to the economic liberalization and the new compulsion of gong global. Of course, the tightening up of quality requirements by several countries/markets especially the EU has been a contributing factor. In 1989, there was only one firm in India with the ISO certification 1990 saw the addition of just one more company to the list. But since then the story has been different. Indian companies are queuing up for obtaining global certification.
ISO 9000 associated series is now the minimum international quality standards for any company entering the European markets. The EU has also laid new norms on product liability it is not enough if a supplier demonstrates that his product is well designed, he must also demonstrate that the product is manufactured within a system that conforms to internationally accepted norms. While most quality standards relate the product, ISO 9000 prescribes quality standard for the manufacturing system/organization as a whole.
Following this development, Indian manufacturers and entrepreneurs, with vital export interests, have suddenly started concentrating in quality. In fact, sensing the new interest shown by Indian companies in ISO certification , international agencies like Bureau Veritas Quality International (BVQI), the agency for providing ISO 9000 certification, the German certification agency, RW-YUV-SN Ltd, and the Dutch Council for certification bodies, RvC, have opened their offices in India. Even the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has formulated IS 14000 an equivalent to ISO 9000. The very effort involved in obtaining the ISO certification and in adhering to it Indian firms will understand the distance they have to travel in achieving global parity the quality front.
Improving packaging: Vast strides have taken place all over the world in the area of packaging. New materials and new production technologies have totally revolutionized packaging practices. In the case of products for which packaging is essentially meant to give protection, highly effective packages have emerged. In cases where packaging is meant to give ease of large volume handling new bulk containers have emerged. It is very essential that Indian firms keep abreast of such developments. They are still holding on to old practices. For instance, studies in the past have revealed that Indian machine tools would have fared much better in the world markets, if only their packaging was better. In many cases, at the receiving end, the machines tools were found to be damaged due to inadequate and important packaging. In more recent years, packaging in respect of branded packaged products meant for retail distribution have been found to be below international standards.
Improving delivery standards: Timely delivery is one of the three main dimensions of competitiveness, the others being quality and cost. Timely delivery is also dependent like quality and cost, on productivity managerial effectiveness and infrastructural support. Delays have been part and parcel of the Indian economic system. Delay in delivery occurs due to a variety of reasons. Delay in manufacturing, shipping delays and delays in reaching the manufactured products the ports upset the delivery schedule. Ways have to be found for minimizing such delays, if the export has to acquit itself creditably.