Safety and Certifications Importance
As we continue our posts on New Product Development, the next stage includes obtaining certifications for product safety. Safety and Certifications are an important aspect of any business. Not only to the customers but also to the company itself. Certification of electrical products is crucial to the safety of products. As a result, product certification is a stamp of superior quality. Regulation of electrical products is to ensure not only safety but also environmental obligations as well.
The Three Agencies
In electronics manufacturing, there are three main safety and certification agencies. A close relationship with these independent certification agencies ensures that products and projects comply with rigorous testing requirements. These agencies work with companies to help make products safely. They provide the proper testing procedures in order to qualify for the needed compliance.
Electronic Safety Certification Agencies
- Began in 1894
- The standard for testing electrical products
- The standard for inspecting electrical products
- Also educates and guides businesses in required safety requirements
- Global certification possibilities
- Established in 1896 by Thomas Edison
- Provider of testing and assurance services
- Highly regarded for their knowledge and expertise
- Therefore, ensuring minimization of health, safety, and security risks by reducing cost
- Also globally accredited and recognized
- Established in 1919
- Official certifications for all electronic products in Canada
- Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) for the US
- Additionally, CSA has authorization in energy efficiency testing
- Global certification possibilities
UL (Underwriters Laboratories)
In 1894 William Henry Merrill founded Underwriters Laboratories or UL. Since then, Underwriters Laboratories has become the best known and recognized independent testing lab in the world. Businesses recognize UL for their education and guidance on safety requirements. Therefore, they perform testing on a range of products. Their testing procedures assess the quality and safety of the individual product. Also, their procedures are viewed as the standard for the testing and inspecting of electrical products. UL’s experience and rigorous standards are why Falconer Electronics Inc places trust their certification process.
According to their website, “UL certifies, validates, tests, verifies, inspects, audits advises and educates.” They do all of these through the testing services they provide. UL does all of these for companies looking to ensure their products comply with regulations and safety just like FEI and other manufacturers like us.
Products within the United States are not the only ones certified by UL. UL also studies international certification standards and practices. Companies worldwide recognize UL’s certifications. Due to this recognition, there is the same level of safety for products in the U.S.A. as those going outside of the states. UL has made a strong effort to standardize safety requirements, protocol, and certifications around the world.
2016 UL Accomplishments
In 2016 UL was recognized in over 100 countries. There were also over 20 billion products baring a UL mark. The numbers do not end there, however. In addition to their work in the United States UL also has over 1 billion consumers in Asia, Europe, and North America. UL reaches each of these consumers with their safety messages.
UL has had involvement with approximately 96000 product evaluations. There are over 11000 employees at UL. These employees work out of 170 facilities spread across 40 countries. Each employee plays a part in providing services to their large number of customers. The publication of over 1500 current safety standards is a large part of the UL family’s accomplishments.
Along with the numerous products and services that UL evaluates they have to be adaptable to the ever-changing world of technology. New technology has led to new advancements in safety. In this changing time, UL has had to adjust certain standards while also developing new ones for newly developed products. These adjustments and new standards will help to ensure that the testing UL is performing is of the highest quality and continues to be relevant to current times.
UL is a Testing Lab Not an Approval Lab
Finally, there is an important distinction that UL is adamant about clarifying. Something UL wants well expressed is that they are a testing lab, not an approval lab. Also, they are not a government agency that has the right to approve any product for a consumer. Due to the view that their process is of the highest level, the government takes their certification into account during the approval processes.
ETL Certification Benefits
Intertek offers many benefits through its ETL certifications. Much like UL, ETL certifications do not just certify products. They also provide “Total Quality Assurance” to the industries that they work with. Through ETL, Intertek certifies products based on energy efficiency, their performance, and also for the safety of the product.
Thomas Edison is the most notable contributor to ETL. In 1896 his company, The Edison Electric Illumination Company were vital in the legacy of high standards that ETL continues to deliver today, well over a century later. Due to these high standards, companies that are obtaining an ETL listing for the first time may find the process daunting. However, the Intertek team prides themselves on the amount of assistance they are able to offer to companies throughout the certification process. ETL doesn’t just certify a product and wash its hands of that company. They also do follow-ups and continue involvement in changes within that certified product.
World Wide Representation
Intertek is a global industry. With their global coverage, Intertek has recognition in countries such as Argentina, China, Germany, Italy, and Mexico as well as the United States and Canada. Throughout 100 countries Intertek has 1,000 locations. Each of these locations is there for the convenience of the businesses that need Intertek’s involvement with their products.
Due to their large number of locations, there is also a need for a large number of employees. Within their 1,000 locations, Intertek employs over 40,000 workers. This large number of employees helps to ensure the best work possible for all of the companies that need Intertek’s help in the certification of their products.
Benefits of ETL Certification
There are many benefits to working with Intertek to get a certification. Intertek offers a step by step process to achieve their certifications.
- The assurance that you receive:
Intertek aims to help companies identify any risks that they have before certifying a product. They help evaluate operations, supply chains, and management systems.
This step helps to see where a product stands in all the standards they uphold. Therefore, if a product does not perform in quality, safety, sustainability, and performance it will have to go through redesigning.
This step is very important to the certification process as it not only affects the final product but each individual aspect that creates the final product. All of the individual pieces and products that go into a final product will go through inspection during this step.
- Certification of the product:
During this step, a product goes through its final confirmation to ensure that it is meeting all standards.
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) was founded by Sir John Kennedy in 1919. Sir Kennedy was chairman of the Civil Engineers’ Canadian Advisory Committee. Due to this, CSA had the original name of The Canadian Engineering Standards Association. CSA did not change their name until the 1940s. As CSA’s recognition grew as they became the official agency for any piece of electrical equipment that is for sale or already in use in Canada. CSA became globally recognized in the 1950s. Furthermore, CSA has become accredited by U.S. OSHA as a “Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory”. Since the U.S. OSHA accreditation CSA has gained global recognition for the services they provide.
CSA Certification Goals
There are many benefits to acquiring a CSA certification. Much like the other two types of certifications, CSA helps to ensure product quality and safety. CSA works with businesses to achieve their certification by helping them reach the following goals:
- Developing a Strategic Alliance
- Utilization of Technical Experts
- Globally Recognized Certifications
- Fast and Reliable Delivery of Services
- Customized Support Throughout the Certification Process
- Product Protection Supported by the CSA Certification
CSA Types of Certification
The Canadian Standards Association has five different types of certification available. Model certification, witnessed manufacturer’s testing for certification, supervised manufacturer’s testing certification, category program for certification, and finally the field certification program. Below are the descriptions of each type as stated by the CSA website:
Your product samples are tested at our facilities for safety and performance. If the product meets the applicable standard, a certificate of compliance is issued, and the CSA mark can be displayed.
Witnessed Manufacturer’s Testing for Certification:
Product testing is performed at your facility under the observation of a CSA Group technical expert who documents the results. If our requirements are met, a certificate of compliance is issued along with CSA mark approval.
Supervised Manufacturer’s Testing for Certification (SMTC):
Product testing and certification reports are provided to CSA Group experts by the manufacturer. Through data validation and spot-checks, results are confirmed prior to issuing a certificate of compliance. Before qualifying for SMTC, your testing facility and proposed testing process need to be audited.
Category Program for Certification (CPC):
This option allows you to conduct your own testing in a product category, once you’ve received a certificate of qualification. Product testing and validation is performed at your facility, then evaluated by CSA Group experts, who issue a certificate of standards compliance to market-ready products.
Field Certification Program:
Our field certification service is intended as a means of “one-time” certification of product to Canadian or U.S. requirements, for a specific number of units and is not meant to be an alternative to regular certification. This service may also be used where a CSA certified product has been shipped without the CSA mark or has been field modified and needs to be labeled. Tests are carried out by CSA Group to the applicable standard and a certificate of compliance is issued for products that meet the requirements (depending on your location, certain regional requirements may also apply). Gas-fired products will receive the CSA Star label and/or CSA Flame label. Electrical and plumbing products will receive the applicable CSA label.
Why is CSA Certification Important?
CSA has the experience of creating standards and certifications for products of all sizes. To date, the CSA mark is on billions of products all around the world. Also, this number is always increasing as CSA is certifying new products constantly.
CSA has recognition from numerous organizations. Some of which include OSHA and the American National Standards Institute. Therefore, CSA certifications give businesses the peace of mind that their products are of the highest quality and will perform their duties safely.
CSA marks on products help consumers to know that that specific product has gone through testing and is meeting all standards and requirements. There are many different types of products that these marks are found on. Some of these include electrical products, gas-fired, plumbing, and personal protection equipment. However, these are not the only products that CSA marks can be found on. There is also an encouragement to consumers to always check products for certification markings from CSA, UL, or ETL.
Certifications are Crucial
Certification of electrical products is crucial. As a result of a product being certified, it is guaranteed to be of superior quality. Therefore, the regulation of electrical products is to ensure safety and environmental obligations. Additionally, there are three main safety certification agencies that are recognized in electronic manufacturing. Each agency has their own specific purpose.
A close relationship with these independent certification agencies ensures that products and projects comply with rigorous testing requirements. Most noteworthy is an in-depth knowledge of how these different agencies work and what they are looking to achieve during the testing process. These agencies work with companies to make products less likely to need adjustment throughout the testing procedures in order to qualify for the needed compliance.
Want to learn more about these certifications? You can visit each of their websites below!
Thank you for reading our blog on Safety Certifications as we continue our series on New Product Development.
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