Annual Audit for JAS Certification

What is JAS certification?

In September 2023, Zhejiang Guolian Floor Co., Ltd. important two important customers: the JAS certification technical officers from the Canadian Mill Services Association (CMSA). In accordance with JAS requirements, they would conduct the annual audit of the JAS flooring production and issue a new JAS certificate.

JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards) are the Japanese national standards in the field of agricultural, forestry, fisheries and food industry. JAS is established by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The JAS system is a third-party certification system. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is the scheme owner of JAS. It accreditates certifying bodies and laboratories, according to ISO 17011. In this process, technical assessment is performed by the Food and Agricultural Materials Inspection Center (FAMIC), which is the agency under MAFF, to ensure the quality and proper labeling of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products. (Source: MAFF, Japan)

Factories can apply for JAS certification through a Certifying Body(ROCB) accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF). The JAS certification process is based on the JAS product standards and the certification procedures specified by MAFF, known as the “Technical Criteria for Certification of Handling Operators of Flooring.” It involves the audit and regulation of all means of production, including raw materials, personnel, production equipment, production processes, quality control, and more. This process ensures that the quality of wood products and processing methods align with the specified requirements.

After obtaining JAS certification, the factory is authorized to use JAS labels on its graded and qualified products. This labeling serves as proof of their production standards and product quality, as well as their adherence to standardized production, supply, and sales practices. It aids consumers in making informed choices.

Requirements for JAS factory and products

JAS imposes strict requirements on the production process of certified factories, encompassing a comprehensive oversight from raw materials to production, quality control, and shipment. This ensures that JAS certified products meet the specified quality standards.

The specific regulations include:

  • Adhere to JAS regulations and enforce rules and regulations.
  • JAS products must meet all JAS production standards.
  • Report the total quantity of products exported, including JAS products, and provide production information to CMSA on a monthly basis.
  • All instruments, equipment, and testing devices used in JAS production at the factory must undergo calibration, maintenance, and record-keeping procedures.
  • Provide required reports to MAFF in a timely manner and clarify any issues related to grading and labeling.
  • Fully cooperate with on-site inspections and audits conducted by MAFF.

JAS places equally stringent requirements on the quality of engineered flooring, including:

  • Dimensional Inspection: Ensuring that the dimensions fall within specified tolerances, limiting bending and twisting deformation.
  • Visual Inspection: Enforcing detailed standards for limiting defects on the floor’s surface, such as knots, discoloration, cracks, insect holes, and more.
  • Physical and Chemical Inspection: Requiring the formaldehyde emission level of the flooring to meet the F4star classification, with an average formaldehyde emission value less than 0.3mg/L and a maximum value not exceeding 0.4mg/L. Additionally, moisture content should be within a specified range, and the abrasion resistance and delamination test should meet the designated standards.

JAS Annual Audit

The annual audit, conducted by experts dispatched by the ROCB, comprises both on-site audits and document reviews.

The on-site audit includes:

  • Full Process Production of JAS Products: Verifying the entire production process for JAS products, ensuring that production equipment is functioning correctly and undergoing regular maintenance.
  • Real-time Quality Control: This covers inspects such as adhesive types, adhesive application amounts, adhesive-to-curing agent ratios, and the moisture content balance process.
  • Product Inspection: This includes grade checks and dimensional tolerance inspections.
  • Quality Control Inspection: This involves inspecting the test process of physical and chemical properties, including moisture content, delamination, formaldehyde emission, ensuring strict compliance with JAS standards.

Document Review:

  • Quality Manual: Updating the quality manual based on actual production and quality control activities to ensure its effectiveness.
  • Monthly QC Records of JAS Production: Ensuring that records of each batch’s production process and regular grade testing are meticulously maintained, guaranteeing reliable compliance with JAS quality manual standards for each batch.
  • Calibration Certificates and Records of QC Equipment: Ensuring that the equipment used for quality testing, such as calipers, thermostat water baths, and drying ovens, are calibrated within their effective period and that test results are valid and traceable.
  • Internal Audit Records and Reports: Using internal audits for self-supervision of JAS production processes, promptly identifying things that compliance is lacking, and continuously improving.
  • JAS Label Usage and Inventory Records: Strictly controlling the use of JAS labels to ensure that actual shipments match reported quantities.

These measures help maintain the quality and compliance of JAS-certified products.

Audit conclusions and future work

It can be concluded from the above work that JAS certification is a systematic and complex process. This is specifically evident in the strict standard requirements, the need for quality control, documentation and records, as well as the certification and auditing processes, all of which require a significant amount of time and resources. Factories must invest considerable effort and resources to ensure their products meet the JAS standard requirements. This entails meticulous planning, rigorous quality control, and compliance management to achieve certification and maintain its validity.

The two-day annual audit conducted by CMSA confirmed that the factory’s production adheres to JAS regulations, maintains stable product quality, and resulted in the renewal of the JAS certificate. During the audit, some issues were identified related to updates in the quality manual, equipment information, and daily records, which require ongoing improvement.

JAS certification serves not only as a label for gaining a larger market but also as a means for continual management optimization of production processes. It sets standards and constraints on various aspects of production that could potentially impact product quality.

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