A Testing World without Boundaries
of electrical and electronic equipment can now enter new markets worldwide
with much greater ease and with drastically reduced testing costs. In
a major step toward a truly global market, the International Electrotechnical
Commission (IEC) has shifted its certification program from multiple
bilateral agreements to a single multilateral agreement.
So, if a manufacturer receives a test report from one of the certification
bodies representing 14 nations that have signed the agreement, it can
get national product certification in all other member countries. With
15 certification bodies in North America, Europe, and Asia participating,
IEC hopes to offer a comprehensive product certification program.
The current scope of the program covers products tested to IEC 60065
(audio, video, and electronic apparatus) and IEC 60950 (information
technology equipment). The program, known as CB-FCS, enables members
to use the principle of mutual recognition of test results for obtaining
certification or approval at the national level. With the change, the
CB-FCS agreement now reaches beyond traditional type testing to provide
for regulated facility audits. The member that issues the conformity
assessment certificate will establish a follow-up program to ensure
consistency of design and construction of products.
Manufacturers are no longer required to send product samples for those
products that have already been tested. And, under the new program,
each member also accepts components that have already been tested by
another member. Previously, components had to be tested to the requirements
for each national approval.
Typically, getting products ready for new markets meant that additional
testing was necessary to achieve certification for each country in which
the product would be marketed. Removing such obstacles lifts a great
burden from manufacturers. IEC made the long-overdue changes because
it determined that electrical equipment manufactured and tested to IEC
standards should ensure the same level of safety no matter where the
product is made or tested.
This program recognizes the need to promote trade worldwide by eliminating
costly testing associated with obtaining separate national certifications.
Hats off to IEC for giving backbone to its harmonized standards.
Sherrie Conroy, Editor
For a list of the participating certification bodies, go to http://www.iec.ch/nr1301.htm.