The Importance Of Quality Assurance


Thread protectors and other pipe protector products are essential parts of the piping system in mining, and in the gas and oil exploration industries. Industry analysis has identified that more than 90% of failures of the pipe systems in these industries occur in the connections, yet any connection failure constitutes a significant problem in terms of safety and productivity. Consequently, in an industry involving major human, economic and environmental risks, the end user has to have a cast-iron assurance of quality and reliability.

For OCTG (oil country tubular goods) manufacturers of products like thread protectors and other pipe protector devices, which play a crucial role in preventing pipe connection failures, the universally recognized quality standard is ISO 9001. This is an international standard concerned with quality management across all sectors and all types of business. The ISO (International Standards Organization) monitors compliance with the standards in accordance with good business practice.

To achieve ISO 9001 certification, a company must have a quality management system in place. This system has to meet several criteria, including process approach, continuous improvement, systems approach to management, and customer focus. The system has to include methods of verifying quality of products, and a mechanism for dealing with customer complaints and problems, and companies must provide a quality manual showing how their system complies with ISO requirements.

Because ISO 9001 is applicable across all sectors of business, companies specifically involved in manufacturing products for the petrochemical, petroleum and natural gas industries should also be compliant with quality management standards set by the API (American Petroleum Institution). Aspects of the gas and oil industry addressed by API standards include production and exploration, fire protection and safety, and marine transportation. They also deal with drilling, offshore production, structural pipe and pipeline issues, and environmental concerns.

To a large extent, ISO and API standards overlap, allowing some products to have dual certification. As with ISO 9001, to comply with API Q1, the API certification, a company must submit a quality manual, and demonstrate ongoing ability to meet the technical requirements identified in the API specifications for the particular product. The main difference between ISO and API is that the latest version of the API standard has more emphasis on risk assessment and risk management.

In addition to ISO 9001, manufacturers of products such as thread protectors and pipe protector devices should ideally have ISO 14001 certification. This is the standard for environmental management systems, and sets out the framework that the company should follow, in order to set up an environmental system that is fully effective. It is important to provide assurance to both employees and customers, as well as other stakeholders, that environmental impact is being monitored on an ongoing basis.

In areas such as mining, and gas and oil exploration and production, huge investments are at stake, and lives are constantly at risk. Given the crucial role played by thread protectors and pipe protector products, quality and safety in design and manufacture acquire critical importance at every stage. OCTG certifications provide assurance that universally recognized standards are met, and that all involved in their use can have complete confidence in the safety and reliability of the products.

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