Equipment - Product Certifications

Product certification (also known as product qualification) is the method of certifying that a product or equipment has passed the minimum standards which is comparable to quality assurance. Product certification varies from country to country and this may mean that in some countries to import goods from other countries additional certifications may be required.

For equipment product certification the equipment will go through processes such as performance tests, quality assurance tests, meets contract stipulated qualification criteria, regulations  and specifications/Certification Schemes. Certification Schemes are normally specified to include the performance test methods that the product must meet and the standards the product must meet to be certified. Certification Schemes may require the equipment manufacturer or supplier is to operate with a registered Quality Management System with ISO 9000 or a laboratory qualified to ISO 17025 to perform the testing.

Product Certifiers And Product Certification Bodies

Are usually accredited to the internationally recognised ISO/IEC 17065:2012 - Conformity Assessment – Requirements for certification bodies certifying products, processes and services to provide confidence to all interested parties that a product, process or service fulfils specified requirements.

Accreditation Bodies

Accreditation bodies provide the accreditation for product certifiers and product certification bodies to perform their duties as specified by ISO 17011:2004 - Conformity Assessment — General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies.  The document also serves as a requirements paper for a peer evaluation process between mutual accreditation bodies. Accreditation bodies that are members of the International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Agreement (IAF MLA) are required to perform to the highest standard and require their accredited bodies comply with appropriate international standards according to the IAF GD5:2006 - IAF Guidance on the Application of ISO/IEC Guide 65:1996.

The Product Certification Process

Covered In Four Steps/Processes For Product Certification.

Application/Evaluation - Selection and Determination - Test data meets the qualification standards

Generally before applying for product certification a product supplier or manufacturer will have the product tested by a testing facility to find any issues beforehand. The next step is to have the equipment tested to the nominated testing facilities in-house procedures and with the test standards methods documented by the certification scheme.

Review - Test data meets the qualification standards

Then a product certifier assesses the application information and the testing data. Based on the certifiers decision that the test data satisfies and passes the required criteria set out in the certification scheme the next phase is attestation.

Attestation - The decision and issuance of certificate if relevant

Involves the decision maker of the product certifier agreeing with their evaluation, once accepted the product is then considered certified and added in the product certifier’s directory. ISO Guide 65 requires the final decision to grant certification be decided by a person or group separate to the evaluation of the product.

Surveillance - Product continues to meet requirement standards and requires recertification

Product surveillance or recertification refers to routine audits on the equipment. Generally required when the certification scheme outlines this requirement. The certification bodies at their discretion will require product manufacturers and suppliers to execute product testing to retain their listed or certified status. The surveillance (recertification) could involve testing of sample products in the marketplace, random audits of the facilities, supervision of the manufacturing, on site review of the testing process, request for documentation that the product or equipment is as certified. Some more serious issues could involve supplier complaint issues, user complaint issues, product certification expiration, recalls or complete removal from the market.

Optional Product Certification

In the case on optional product certification the ethics of the manufacturer must be relied on, though in many countries consumers are generally protected as items cannot be sold without an approved certification by an accredited body.