Every manufacturer has the same goal when it comes to product safety testing. Manufacturers want to get their product listed fast, without making any modifications to the original design, and at a price that doesn’t break the bank. Here are some suggestions to make your route to a product listing more efficient.
Q: New products need to get into the market in quicker cycles today. How can we get shorter project cycles and avoid delays in our listing programs?
A: Great question, and simply put you should be better prepared. Know in advance that your product is in compliance with the applicable UL/ANSI standard and that you can pass all specified performance tests. Wilger Testing calls this step 1, and we can conduct an inexpensive pre-review of your concept to avoid problems later, even before you build the prototype.
Q: My engineering team is great at creating new products but then we get to product safety testing at an NRTL and our program seems to fall into the abyss. What are we doing wrong?
A: Your engineering team’s core competency is product design and not product safety testing. While your team will make their best efforts to meet the applicable safety standard, a more in depth knowledge is required for your products to be listed quickly and without cost overruns. Wilger Testing calls this step 2, and our core team are all ex-NRTL employees giving us inside knowledge required to counter unfair criticisms quickly.
Q: Many of our product safety programs start out at one price and then by the time the program is finished we get stuck with a much higher final cost. Why does this happen so often to us?
A: NRTL programs are unique in as much as the project estimate is just that an estimate. If after the NRTL’s review the project costs can be adjusted due to scope change, test failures or constructional deficiencies. Wilger Testing calls this step 3 where we know in advance that all tests pass, all construction meets the applicable standard, and our quoted NRTL costs are fixed.
Q: Our laboratory was assessed by an NRTL to ISO/IEC 17025 and we assumed that all our data would be accepted by any other certification authority around the world. Last year we received a rejection from a European test house that our data was not accredited and therefore invalid. Is this true?
A: Your question actually has two parts:
Q: We set up our own laboratory to save costs on testing our products. The reassessment fees every year by the NRTL’s are adding up. How do we reduce the costs associated with our testing operation?
A: Operating your own laboratory is excellent for many reasons, however, once you consider costs involved in the space, environment, insurance, equipment, training, calibrations, personal, and building test fixtures, the per test costs goes up substantially. Further, most factory laboratories cannot handle the quantity of tests when product development is in full steam. Wilger Testing calls this step 6 where we offer our testing at a substantial savings as we bare the ongoing costs to maintain the laboratory. In other words using our laboratory is like have a cooperative where the costs are shared by many.
Q: How do I as a manufacturer know that Wilger Testing is competent enough to handle my projects?
A: First, our laboratory is accredited by ANAB. Second, our core team are ex-NRTL employees. Third, we are a Preferred Partner of UL which is the highest level of assessment granted by UL for our engineering department. Fourth, our commitment to conducting correct, fast, and economical projects is second to none!
Q: Why don’t you advertise who you work for?
A: We respect the right of our customers to have their proprietary information kept secret. It is our core value and we feel strongly that any laboratory that advertises its current client base has already breached their fiduciary responsibility to keep your company information private. Our clients freely recommend our services, however, which has served us well over the years.
Q: I had an NRTL investigate my product which was subsequently listed. The AHJ (electrical inspector) has rejected the product even though it bears an NRTL label. What happened?
A: While NRTL’s will make a diligent effort to determine compliance to a UL/ANSI standard it is the responsibility of the AHJ to ensure that local codes and practices are met. While every attempt is made to have the UL/ANSI standards coincide with the applicable electrical codes some inconsistencies do exist. Wilger’s engineering staff reviews all applicable codes during our review process so you know in advance when a product listing could be considered problematic so you can be armed with information before a rejection occurs.
Q: I used an NRTL to have my product evaluated and the AHJ (electrical inspector) has rejected the product as the County where the product was installed only accepts one NRTL. Can an AHJ do this?
A: NRTL’s are evaluated by OSHA and subject to audits to show compliance to testing agency standards. As such, once an NRTL has been evaluated and accepted by OSHA on a Federal basis it would be difficult for an AHJ to reject your product based on NRTL used unless the municipality has an electrical code that is more restrictive than other National codes. Wilger’s engineering staff will never allow your product to be rejected due the NRTL used or to a more restrictive electrical code. Our motto is to “Know Before You Go” and never get rejected no matter who was the listing NRTL.