Provision 6 of the R2 Standard (which pertains to testing and reuse of equipment and components) requires that R2 certified companies implement a written quality assurance plan if they are directing electronics to reuse. A quality assurance plan includes the controls needed to ensure that a process is effective. In the case of reusable electronics, R2 companies must verify the accuracy and effectiveness of their testing methods. An effective quality plan is based on best practices found in quality standards such as ISO 9001 or RIOS™. A company with either of these certifications has already demonstrated that the necessary quality plans are in place and, therefore, a separate quality plan for R2:2013 is not required.
Companies not certified to ISO 9001 or RIOS™, need to address the following issues when developing and implementing a quality plan to meet the R2 testing requirements of Provision 6(c)1 and 6(c)2.
- How do you verify that the testing equipment or software you are using is working properly? In quality terms, how is your test equipment calibrated? This might include ensuring you have the most current patches for your software. Or, it might mean using specialized equipment or a third party to calibrate. Sometimes, calibration may be as simple as using a "known good" and "known bad" product to verify the equipment detects both good and bad.
- What qualifications do employees need to adequately perform the testing, troubleshooting or repairs? Some level of IT training or experience is expected. It should also be determined what ongoing training is needed, and how to verify the competency of each employee performing testing and/or repair functions.
- How are test results verified? At a minimum, quality controls should include a sampling of equipment by a different employee to verify the testing was performed correctly. The separation of duties between testing and verification is important to ensure checks and balances in the process.
- Failures will inevitably occur in any process. The first indicator of a problem with your process may be the absence of known failures. The process for managing failures is crucial. In quality terms, these failures are called non-conforming products. It is important to identify non-conforming products and ensure they are not sold as working products. Non-conforming products may be repaired, sold to a qualified vendor as R2/Ready for Repair, or recycled. Labeling and identification are essential in order to segregate non-conforming products so they are not inadvertently mixed with working products.
- An essential part of any quality plan is accurate record keeping. For each test, there must be a complete and accurate record of the test results. The test records validate the equipment's functionality and legitimize the entire process. Test results are critical to the quality plan. Test records may be as simple as a checklist on a piece of paper and should show both successes and failures
These are the fundamental elements that are expected in an effective quality plan that will meet the testing requirements of Provision 6. Additional elements may also be included to further enhance your quality controls. The R2 Guidance Document offers more information about the quality requirements of Provision 6(c)1 and 6(c)2.