TRUST IS GOOD, BUT CONTROL IS BETTER
Mr Schwerdtfeger, what is the quality assurance process that you follow at TEDi?
I would like to explain the process to you with the help of a toy penguin that was manufactured in Asia. In this case, the supplier has to provide us with a certificate from an independent testing institute which confirms that the product adheres to the European Toy Safety Directive “DIN EN 71”. We then check the quality and function of the penguin. We send our report to the supplier and provide him with further specifications about the quality, packaging, and other product characteristics.
And the product is then delivered to the TEDi stores?
No, not so soon. This takes us to the second testing phase. In this phase, we check whether the supplier has met our quality requirements from the first test. If our specifications and the legal provisions have been adhered to, then the penguins are sent to the TEDi centre in Dortmund.
Does a further test step follow or are the toy penguins just sent out to the stores from the headquarters?
A further incoming goods inspection is carried out. Here we particularly examine the correct function and labelling of soft toys. We take some material samples and send them to an established testing laboratory, where the samples are tested for harmful substances. Only after these steps are completed and the product is safe, it is delivered to our stores.
Can you tell us how you check the function of a toy penguin?
Gladly, but here I would use the example of a somewhat distant relative: the teddy bear. Particularly with cuddly toy animals there is a risk that children swallow buttons or eyes and injure themselves. To prevent this, we examine the mechanical and physical properties according to DIN EN 71-1. In a tensile test a test machine pulls the eye of the soft toy animal. If it stays on the teddy has passed our test. If not, the supplier must make improvements.
Does TEDi test the products additionally apart from these provisions?
Yes, TEDi has developed its own quality requirements and uses them to test the products. We therefore conduct tests in closely together with consumers to check the suitability for daily use of the soft toy.
On many items from TEDi, consumer notices such as "dishwasher safe" can be found. How do you verify this?
Until a product gets this notice, many tests have to be run. Thus, for example, for a fresh box to get the label "dishwasher safe" it has to run through up to a dozen dishwasher cycles. The same applies to textiles imprinted with "machine washable".
That sounds like a lot of work. How many employees work for your department?
A total of 30 qualified employees work in Quality Management. And as I mentioned, in addition, we work closely with established testing institutes.
What would you advise a customer who may on occasion not be satisfied with the quality of the products?
First of all, products can be exchanged without question in our TEDi stores. Our cashier system records this exchange and forwards the complaint to the Quality Management. Then of course we try to get to the bottom of the cause. Basically we always welcome comments and suggestions, as only then will our products become even better.