Industry 4.0, digitalization and new technologies like predictive maintenance, interconnected production chains, sustainable mobility chains and big data have enormous potential to drive innovation and economic growth. Yet embedded in them are concerns like cybersecurity and product interoperability that can only be addressed with an effective regulatory framework and consistent international standards. What is needed is quality infrastructure to facilitate the continued development of Industry 4.0 worldwide and ensure that a lack of interoperability between sectors, companies and devices does not come to pose an obstacle to trade.
A functional quality infrastructure system—comprised of standardization, compliance assessment, accreditation, metrology, market surveillance and product safety (here in Mexico, the Mexican Metrology, Standardization and Compliance Evaluation System -Sismenec)—guarantees the compliance of goods and services with domestic and international quality and safety standards, which, in turn, translates into greater protection for consumers and the environment. Such a system is also vital to the competitiveness of companies, as it affords them access to international markets, while fostering innovation and the development of technology. However, discrepancies between the quality infrastructure system of one country and another can pose technical barriers to trade and check development.
It was with a view to mitigating or, where possible, eliminating such barriers and improving product safety and consumer protection that Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy (SE) set up the Mexican-German Quality Infrastructure Dialogue in 2018 as a political-technical platform to identify topics of common interest and challenges in this area, and implement technical measures agreed upon by the actors involved, which include government agencies, compliance evaluation bodies and test labs, as well as private companies and industrial associations. At the behest of the BMWi, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) supports these political-technical dialogues and the activities agreed to by both parties (for further information on the Dialogue, visit: https://www.gpqi.org/home.html).
Issues range from the simplification of mandatory certification procedures and the enforcement of international IT security standards to the improvement of market surveillance for products among companies. In light of the global industrial transformation digitalization and Industry 4.0 technologies have sparked off, the dialogue platform is a chance for experts from both countries to design a regulatory framework that fosters innovation and economic development.
The Annual Meeting of the Mexican-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure will take place on October 10, 2019, as part of Industrial Transformation Mexico (ITM), which will be held in León on October 9-11. The meeting will be presided over by the BMWi and the SE, and will be the most important bilateral event of its kind, where the cooperation agenda for 2019-2020 will be defined.
For more information on Industrial Transformation Mexico, visit: https://www.industrialtransformation.mx/.
* The author is director of GIZ Cities, Transportation and Sustainable Industries