Product certification is a process by which an independent body evaluates and attests to a product’s compliance with specific performance, quality and safety standards applicable to the countries of its intended markets. It can cover a wide product range, such as medical devices, laboratory and industrial equipment, consumer electronics, laser or LED lighting systems, WIFI, GPS, RFID or Bluetooth radio module systems and much more! Whether powered by an electric network or a Li-ion battery, all are concerned with product certification.
The certification process can be an exercise that is long and tedious, requiring significant time, investment and effort. It requires an excellent knowledge of the procedures and certification requirements for each country where you wish to market your products.
These elements can be intimidating, and many contractors have asked us about them: Why do I need to have my product certified? Is certification absolutely necessary? When should I think about it? What do I risk if I don’t get my product certified? What do I gain by having my product certified?
In this blog post, we present the three main reasons certification is a necessary, profitable and beneficial investment for the user in terms of safety and quality.
1- Compliance with applicable rules
Product certification involves independently verifying and validating a product’s compliance with required safety, quality and performance standards. It allows manufacturers to demonstrate compliance with applicable regulations and standards and avoid fines and penalties. Certification can consider various factors, such as materials used, manufacturing processes, testing and applicable standards.
Regulations vary across countries, and manufacturers often find it difficult to comply without outside help. Certification bodies are responsible for issuing certificates that attest to the product’s compliance with these standards and regulations.
Depending on the type, the product must meet certain regulations applicable to electrical safety regulations and directives for equipment with a power supply between 50 V and 1,000 V for alternating current and between 75 V and 1,500 V for direct current. Under the CE markings are several directives, including the Low Voltage Directive (2014/35/EU), which sets the applicable safety requirements, the RoHS Directive (2011/65/EU), the Radio Equipment Directive (RED 2014/53/EU), which will include cyber security as of August 2024 and the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (EMC 2014/30/EU).
In North America, mainly grid-connected products require certification because the United States and Canada require approval markings that ensure that the product will be safe for the end user, such as electrical security standards (UL61010-1, CAN/CSA-C22.2 NO. 61010-1-12) for measuring, control and laboratory equipment. For Canada and the United States, tools such as the SPE-1000 and SPE-3000 special inspections or the Field Certification/Evaluation are also very interesting for smaller quantities or prototypes sold to customers. The laser safety component is supported by IEC 60825-1, CSA E60825-1:15 (R2020) and the FDA under federal code 21 CFR 1040.10 and 1040.1 and the ANSI Z136 standard.
2- Access to new markets
Certifications can be voluntary or mandatory, depending on the type of product and the country in which it is sold, and based on safety, quality, environmental impact and public health criteria. Product certification is a formal approval and validation process that enables companies and suppliers to ensure their products meet safety, quality and other directives established by certification bodies. It assures consumers that the products they buy comply with quality and safety requirements, reducing risks to their health, safety and the environment. Directives must be distinguished from standards. Compliance with directives is mandatory, while compliance with standards is voluntary. The latter is a means of demonstrating compliance with the regulations. For example, regulatory certification is distinguished by certain markings (CE, EAC, CCC), while approval marks issued by agencies such as CSA, UL, TUV, NEMKO, Intertek and QPS, to name a few, are private and proprietary.
Equipment shipped into a country without being certified to that country’s standards can, at best, get stuck at a customs dock and, at worst, banned from sale in that market.
Border entry measures vary from country to country, and not all countries have tight controls. In this context, it may be tempting to skip the product certification step. However, denunciation by a competitor in such a territory is very possible.
The certification guarantees that the product will be marketed and marketable. For a company, it can be an element that differentiates the products from the competition by demonstrating that the products are of better quality or safer.
It enables companies to expand their reach and sell their products in countries where they would otherwise not be authorized. Manufacturers can reduce the risk of legal liability and the costs associated with recalls of defective products by obtaining product certification.
3- Earning the trust of customers and users
Product certification helps build customer confidence by providing objective assurance that the product meets high-quality standards and has been evaluated by an independent third party. This can help build credibility for the company and increase customer confidence in the product.
A company concerned about its reputation and brand image will not hesitate to certify its products. The certification is a quality and reliability guarantee, assuring users that the products are 100% certified and safe to use under the manufacturer-recommended conditions.
Although the requirements and criteria for certification vary depending on the products and markets, they broadly cover product quality, safety and sustainability standards. In many industries, the user finds the certification mark reassuring and allows the company to position its product as a quality product that is safe for the users’ health.
In conclusion, product certification is important to manufacturers and suppliers because it demonstrates that their products meet the standards set by certified organizations. It can help companies protect their brand and distinguish their products from competitors. Moreover, certification can help speed up the process of getting products to market by enabling companies to meet regulatory requirements. For consumers, it is a way to guarantee product quality and safety and, thus, reinforce confidence in the product and its manufacturer.
Preparing for certification early in the product development process is time and money well spent. Proper preparation from the beginning of the project, such as the elaboration and research of applicable standards (Standards Assessment) and the planning of each step in cooperation with the certification agencies ensures process success, allowing the product to reach the market more quickly. A certified product is a guarantee that the product can be marketed in its current state in a defined market. Discovering at the time of commercialization that your new product does not meet the standards of the market for which it is intended means delaying the market launch and incurring additional costs and effort. In some cases, this may require redesigning the product and, therefore, redoing already-completed tasks.
It is important to focus on the notion of certification as soon as you start working on a future product without waiting to have an industrialized product. Indeed, the product certification process implies going through several steps, directly impacting the product under development. To learn more, read the 7 essential steps to product certification.
It is important to consider certification while the product is still under development to avoid wasting time and money. This allows the adjustment of the product specifications to comply with the applicable standards. Complying with standards is an opportunity to develop safe and reliable technology products and ensure that the product is environmentally friendly by being eco-designed. Securing your product is the equivalent of securing your market.