A simple way to explain the importance of quality infrastructure is to refer to a specific product. For example, if we take any food product, such as a frozen pizza, we can clearly explain the requirements of food safety standards or the verification of the cold chain.
Quality infrastructure services can be applied to all products and many services. Since no single company usually manufactures a product in isolation, the entire value chain needs to be considered. Quality and safety checks are particularly in demand at the interfaces between different companies or value chains stages.
To analyse the quality infrastructure services needs for value chains, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and Mesopartner have developed the Calidena method. Calidena combines the Spanish words for a chain, “cadena”, and quality, “calidad”, and demonstrates the roots of the methodology in cooperation projects with Latin America and the Caribbean. Initially, Calidena was implemented in agro-processing value chains, applied to domestic and export value chains. Since 2007, the method has been used in all world regions and for different products and services, from hot pepper sauce in the Caribbean to photovoltaic energy systems in Northern Africa and Asia.
The participatory Calidena approach aims to stimulate quality in value chains. QI projects use the method to strengthen the user orientation of the national QI ecosystem, whereas value chain initiatives use it to close quality-related gaps.
The process is structured into three phases: preparation, a participatory diagnosis workshop and follow-up activities. At the beginning of a Calidena process, value chain stakeholders identify quality requirements and services to access promising markets. Then, a jointly developed action plan aims to strengthen the supporting quality infrastructure and the value chain itself. Finally, the action plan is implemented by interested parties, facilitated by a host and a co-host organisation, and supported by PTB or another development organisation involved. The whole Calidena process should be limited to eighteen or a maximum of twenty-four months.
Calidena targets the following achievements:
- Creation of quality culture among enterprises and consumers
- Increase in demand for QI services by stakeholders from a given value chain, and improving existing QI services or creating new ones
- Enabling access to new markets and clients by meeting higher quality standards
- Upgrading national value creation and productivity through improved resource efficiency and product quality
- Contribution to enhanced environmental protection, consumer protection and social welfare
A community of practice (CoP) managing the knowledge of the Calidena method has emerged. The CoP members from four continents are trained and experienced facilitators who share experience in quality infrastructure, business development, value chain promotion and participatory development work. A website serves as an information platform, https://www.calidena.ptb.de.
Currently, the Calidena CoP is working on reconciling the value chain logic with the circular economy concept. Initial experience has been gained with biodegradable cleaning agents and e-waste. In this respect, the method helps quality infrastructure institutions to align their services with the new needs of a sustainable and regenerative economy.