In a scenario of profound evolution, characterized by rising complexity and new social needs, to study the Quality Infrastructure and evaluate its benefits – both economic and other – provides a good opportunity to reflect upon many of the challenges the country faces and which regard the competitiveness and organization of the chains, the new technologies, safety/security and environmental sustainability.
At the start of the year the emergency caused by Covid-19 broke out in our economies and what began as a health crisis has turned into a pandemic and subsequently into a world economic crisis without precedent since the end of the Second World War. Governments have had to face the health emergency adopting measures which have reduced the freedom of families and businesses, stopping activities in entire areas and production sectors and the movement of citizens.
We speak about Quality Infrastructure because there are many actors involved who ensure that it functions: national institutions, national standardization bodies, national metrology institutes, national accreditation bodies and accredited conformity assessment bodies (CABs). The last of these categories includes certification, inspection, verification and validation bodies as well as testing laboratories and calibration laboratories, covering a central role in the system by means of conformity assessment activities. It is a complex but efficient structure, operating in a successful cooperation with public and private structures (standardization bodies and accreditation bodies operate on a not-for-profit basis).
There are innumerable areas and sectors in which accredited testing, inspection and certification (TIC) activities are performed: management systems, environmental and energy certification, quality and technical control of products, supply chain verifications, inspections concerning public building programs (buildings, construction sites, technical control of projects etc.), performance of laboratory tests on various and multiple matrices (environmental, food, industrial products, medical devices, raw materials etc.) and calibrations of measuring instruments – these being just some examples of possible applications.
Between 2013 and 2018, the contribution of IQ to the Italian economy was calculated at 10.8 billion euros, corresponding to 16.1% of the increase in GDP in the manufacturing sectors (5 billion euros), in services ( 5.8 billion euros) and construction (110 million euros).