WITH the mushrooming of manufacturing industries in the country and around the globe, adherence to mechanical engineering standards set by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), is the only way to protect local consumers from the products manufactured.
Mechanical engineering is one of the areas that the bureau has set up standards specifications to be adhered to by manufacturers and consumers.
Other areas where standards have been set up by TBS, include electrical engineering, civil engineering, environment, agriculture and food, packaging, labeling, textile, building and construction, manufacturing, information and communication technologies, energy, quality management and conformity assessment and services.
Mr Yona Afrika, TBS officer responsible for standards, says standards specifications for any product is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.
According to Mr Afrika, mechanical engineering alone has up to 280 standards specifications with others still being developed depending on the needs that arise in our daily lives.
He says the preparations for the standards normally involves experts from the bureau, manufacturers of the products and other stakeholders from the sectors that, in one or another, are involved in the product.
Mr Afrika says the involve ment of various stakeholders in setting up standards for a particular product manufactured is necessary to avoid complaints from some of them, including ensuring the product is beneficial to consumers and does not harm environment.
The standards specifications for products set up and agreed by stakeholders are normally considered to cater for the national requirements but the standardisation process takes into consideration the environment or the place of manufacturing and the destination for use.
According to Mr Afrika, the preparations of standards specifications for a particular product is a daunting task that involves thorough and comprehensive research to avoid health side effects and loss to consumers and manufacturers themselves.
He insists that the standards for any product targets consumers by giving them an opportunity to inspect before buying it. In trying to show how TBS is serious in ensuring consumers are protected, Mr Afrika said the bureau of standards has been able to develop standards for building materials that are technically known as construction raw materials such as iron bars, iron sheets, cement and nails.
The standards for such products, according to Mr Afrika, were put into use long time ago. He says with increase in manufacturers of construction materials in the country, there is a pressing need for the public to know the set standards for such products to avoid wasting their money.
“Adhering to the standards for the products by both manufacturers and consumers has multiple advantages. First, it avoids loss of working capital, job opportunities and government revenue in case a particular industry is closed on grounds of manufacturing sub standards products; secondly, businesspeople are saved from losing their money when sell the products in their shops and thirdly, it protects people’s health and environment,” he says.
How can a consumer know if standards are adhered to for particular a products? According to Mr Afrika, standards must be clearly marked in a respective product with a machine.
He says such standards marks are neither handwritten nor marked in color. He says if the consumer finds such marks in a product they should consult TBS for verification.
He mentioned some products used in auto and transport industry with their standards marks in brackets as; Used cars (TZS 698), Motorcycles (TZS: 1231), Helmet (TZS: 1478), Cars running on compressed natural gas (TZS: 1187), Tyres (TZS: 617 and TZS: 618). “Standards for tyres were put into use in 1970s at national level.
This trend has enabled us to know which tyres are fit for use or which ones are not,” he says. He says used tyres do not fall into any category of standards, issuing caution against their use.
He says used tyres are extremely dangerous simply because no one knows for how long were they used prior to being removed from cars. According to standard specifications, any tyre is considered used the moment it is fixed onto a car unless otherwise it is established by relevant bureau of standards that it is still fit for use.
He says the international standards for tyres recognize a new tyre as the one that comes directly from the manufacturer, packed in its packaging material (wrapped in nylon papers) with specified standards marks typed by a machine on it.
According to Mr Afrika, TBS has standard specifications for oil tankers, fuel stations, petroleum deposits, gas cylinders for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), water pipes, firefighting equipment and farm implement such as power tillers.
Other products that TBS has set up standard specifications are car spear parts, tyre tubes and passenger bus bodies.