Given the current situation with COVID-19, we have received questions from our clients regarding how site audits will be done during a time of lockdowns and social distancing. Sphera/SGS has been working with remote audits for over two years now. We sat down with Harry Fernau, the Global Product Manager for Energy and Buildings at SGS, to learn more about SGS’s innovative technology and understand how the company is prepared.   

What is remote auditing and why is it important?

Remote auditing is a way to perform on-site inspections or audits anywhere remotely, from any location around the world using innovative technologies. SGS has implemented remote inspection and auditing solutions since 2018 with a tool named, “SGS QiiQ”. This software allows technical experts within our network to participate in inspections and audits around the world in real time remotely. This system also allows for clients to join inspections in different countries using a special client access.

Remote auditing reduces travel time, increases the reactivity times for ad-hoc inspections, reduced the CO2-footprint and increases the health and safety during on-site inspections. By using smart glasses, or smart phones, a number of experts or client representatives can join an inspection in real time without having to be physically on site.

Why did SGS launch remote audits and inspections in 2018?

A few years ago, we saw the need for an inspection and auditing solution that increases our reactivity time and reduces travel cost and times. We were also looking for a way to use technology, which led us to launch SGS QiiQ remote inspection tool. Since our launch in 2018, we have provided thousands of remote inspections in many countries across the world, ensuring quantity and quality of product deliveries. Our experience helps us implement these solutions very efficiently and quickly in other sectors across the world. We are innovating constantly and always looking for faster and more efficient ways of providing value to our clients. As one of our company values is the value to society, we have been looking for solutions to reduce our carbon footprint within our business sector for many years.

Given the current situation, how important are safe inspection solutions?

Under the current circumstances, clients are looking for business continuity solutions that provide them with independent quality assurance and take current restrictions on physical contact and travel into account. Many companies and markets rely on independent 3rd parties to evaluate the quality and quantity of their products and deliveries, the safety of on-site conditions, and the condition of technical systems and buildings. SGS QiiQ allows us to continue to provide these services in a safe way, and support in making sure constantly changing health and safety guidelines are followed across the client’s network.

How do EDGE clients benefit from the business continuity solutions provided by Sphera/SGS?

We are working closely with IFC to help issue guidance for all EDGE auditors and certifiers on how to perform remote audits for EDGE site audits globally by providing our know-how and experience in this sector. This resulted into 2 solutions defined by IFC.

EDGE Auditors are allowed to take advantage of on-site personnel or local EDGE Experts to support the site audit by doing a walkaround, taking photos, videos and measurements based on a detailed checklist provided by the dedicated EDGE Auditor and explained during a dedicated training. This possibility allows the EDGE Auditor to evaluate the on-site situation after the walk around in detail and assess the compliance based on the checklist and compliance documentation like photos or videos.

EDGE Auditors are also allowed to use video inspection solutions, such as SGS QiiQ, which provide them the opportunity to actively participate in the site audit and guide the on-site person through the inspection. With SGS QiiQ, the EDGE Auditor is able to take high quality pictures remotely, independently of internet bandwidth, discuss findings directly during the live audit with the participants and record the complete site audit process via video or photo documentation within our system. This solution does require an active internet connection throughout the site audit, but is optimized for low bandwidth and meets high standards in data security and data fidelity.

Our priority is keeping our clients and employees safe during this global pandemic. We remain ready to support our clients and ensure that we meet their deadlines, particularly those tied to financing and external commitments. If you have any questions about a specific project, please reach out to edge@sphera.com

ABOUT SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. We are recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 94,000 employees, we operate a network of more than 2,600 offices and laboratories around the world.

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