Third Party Inspection – When and Why?

The phrase Third Party Inspection is thrown around often in hygienic or sanitary industries, making many ask these questions:  ”What does it mean?” and “Do I need it?”

Let’s investigate that a little further as it applies to ASME BPE and 3-A.

ASME BPE requires that inspections be done as stated in GR-3 & GR-4. The BPE code references ASME B31.3 process piping code to define the responsibility of the inspectors. Currently law does not require BPE compliance; however, B31.3 is required by law.

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume we have to do inspections. That brings us to these three questions:

  • What has to be inspected?
  • By whom?
  • How?

“What” is well defined by ASME.

“By whom” is defined in Paragraph 340.4 (a) of ASME B31.3, which states: “The owner’s Inspector shall be designated by the owner and shall be the owner, an employee of the owner, an employee of an engineering or scientific organization, or of a recognized insurance or inspection company acting as the owner’s agent.” So, a lot of people, qualified or not, can do the inspections.

That brings us to “How.” From what I can tell, it boils down to liability. If the owner decides the do the inspections himself—or relies on the equipment vendors to perform individual inspections—he is liable for the inspections being performed properly, and the information being accurate and complete. Whereas, hiring a qualified third party inspector gives the inspector that responsibility. So maybe in this case, we can call it insurance.

Now, let’s discuss 3-A. As you may or may not know, 3-A does not inspect or qualify equipment or processes themselves. It is the owner’s responsibility to verify they are in compliance with the applicable laws or regulations. This is enforced by the government regulators through periodic inspections.

However, a few years ago 3-A began certifying third party verification inspectors. Trained by 3-A, these inspectors are the only people who can give an equipment manufacturer permission to use the 3-A symbol. Use of the 3-A symbol on equipment validates that the equipment and the manufacturer’s processes for building the equipment are in compliance with the applicable 3-A standard. The number of standard with which the equipment is in compliance will be marked on the equipment with the 3-A symbol.

This is for the equipment only. These third party inspectors do not inspect or qualify the actual product manufacturing processes.

That’s what I understand. This being the case, does the food, dairy, and beverage industry need a better process validation? Is what BPE and B31.3 requires good enough? What do you think?

One comment

  1. Lea Areizaga says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m always looking for great information to share with clients and my coworkers, and this post is definitely worth sharing!

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