International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies
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Conformity Assessment

 

Conformity Assessment

Conformity assessment is the means of determining whether products, services, processes, systems and persons, meet specified requirements. Depending on the type of product or system and the criteria being examined, public policy makers may require that conformity assessment procedures be carried out by the supplier, the purchaser, the regulator or by an independent conformity assessment body. Public policies may specify which of these parties will carry out the conformity assessment activity appropriate to the level of risk involved. Conformity assessment can involve certification, inspection and/or the testing of a product or system.

 

Forms of Conformity Assessment

 

Conformity assessment activities can be undertaken in various forms:

  • First-party conformity assessment:
    when a person or an organization that provides a product makes a supplier’s declaration of conformity, supported by test results from its own laboratory or from an external laboratory that tests the supplier’s products to required standards.
  • Second-party conformity assessment:
    when a person or an organization having a user interest, such as a procurement body, witnesses testing or performs other verification to standards directly, either on prototype or through market surveillance, or both.
  • Third-party conformity assessment:
    when an independent conformity assessment body certifies, inspects and/or tests products or systems to standards. The results are proprietary to the conformity assessment body and the supplier. However, they may be provided by the supplier to the authority having jurisdiction, when necessary.

A regulatory authority may be considered a third-party when it undertakes conformity assessment activities itself. However, the conformity assessment processes are likely to differ greatly from regulator to regulator resulting in duplication as well as increased costs and time to bring products to the market.

 

Increased confidence

 

In some cases, regulators may wish to have a further level of confidence in conformity assessment results. This may involve the particular technical regulation requiring that the competence of conformity assessment bodies be formally recognized. Such competence may be demonstrated, amongst other means, through accreditation by an independent accreditation body — often established by the government.

 

An alternative option is for regulators to refer to global conformity assessment systems (serving industries such as automotive, food, rail and electrotechnology), which provide:

  • Consistency of testing and certification practices;
  • Consistency of information regarding conformity assessment status and related information;
  • Reduced time and costs for accessing markets; and
  • Smaller economies access to latest developments, eliminating the cost burden of achieving local approvals for suppliers making commercial decisions to supply a market of limited demand.

One example of this approach being used comes from the UNECE which recommends that regulators use IEC and ISO Standards supported by Conformity Assessment schemes such as the IECEx.

 

Find out more in the UNECE report:
UNECE Common Regulatory Framework for equipment used in environments with an explosive atmosphere

 

Approaches such as this save the regulators the cost of establishing and maintaining their own conformity assessment operations. At the same time, many of these international conformity assessment systems do provide for stakeholder involvement, including policy makers, in their day-to-day operation.

 

Please go to the Conformity Assessment area of our website for more information.