Certification for Hardware Products: What You need to Know
The joy that comes with successfully testing a product and seeing it work, is one that cannot be easily quantified for it is something you must personally experience to really know. And for most people in the hardware community, the joy of successfully testing a prototype is usually quickly replaced with frustration as one comes to learn that the tested hardware product must be certified before it can be introduced to markets. The next question which always comes to mind is; what does it take to get my product certified and in today’s post, we intend to provide some detailed answers to your question.
It is important to prepare yourself for the certification process by first acknowledging the fact that the entire regulations and compliance procedure is quite complex and is subject to changes on a regular basis. Therefore, before you get started the first thing you need to know is what the regulations consist of.
What are the Concepts behind the Term Certified?
In manufacturing circles, the term certified stands for all the different activities, tests, paperwork, labelling and every other requirement your product must undergo in other to attain a market pass in certain communities.
Third Party Certifications—the success of your hardware products in your lab is not enough for a countries quality control department to give your product a pass. Therefore, to ensure transparency in the certification process, third-party organizations will be called in to carry them out.
Labelling/Manuals—labelling your product and providing a manual for it is part of the regulations you must consider putting in the package. The manual assigned to hardware products also contain certification numbers native to your product.
Compliance Documentation—this is a document or letter that shows that your product has successfully gone through regulations and met the standards set for them.
Registration—how do the public know how well your product fared during testing? By going through the registration documents of your product. This document consists of the results of third-party assessments of your product.
What Do the Regulations for Hardware Products Cover?
The regulations for hardware products, take into consideration the electrical and mechanical components contained in a product. Therefore, the regulation consists of test protocols specific to how your product functions. These protocols include;
Electrical Safety—here, the level of electricity a product receives to function and its power sources are evaluated. In the United States, the safety standards checked includes; fire, electric shock and overheating problems.
EMI/RF Testing—the EMR testing procedure is carried out to ensure that the device or product works without jamming other devices and emitting electromagnetic radiation. Thereby ensuring radiation complies with the safety limits of a country.
Environmental Regulations—this regulation takes into consideration how the device’s emissions affect the environment. There are certain standards such as RoHS standards which have been adopted across Europe.
Battery Shipments—there are also strict regulations regarding the shipment of battery powered hardware devices. The aim of this is to watch out for devices that could provide fire hazard threats.
Additional Materials in your Products—hardware products are generally packaged with protection foils, cartons and other items designed to protect them. These items are also subject to regulations which must be taken into consideration.
What Defines the Regulations that Apply to a Product?
Now, it is important to note that no every regulation will apply to your product ad that a set of rules determine the exact regulations you will have to adhere to when certifying your hardware product. These rules include:
Location—it should not come as a surprise to learn that the places you intend to sell your product has its own set of rules governing the type of products that can pass through its boarders. A country and its state requirements are the most important rules that apply to your product.
Type of Product—not all items for sale on the international market can be traded in every nation. Therefore, keeping abreast of available lists of banned items will save you future headaches.
The 5 Steps to Certifying a Hardware Product
To streamline all the important points touched upon in the preceding chapters, let us take a closer look at the certification process of the US and the necessary steps you will need to take to certify your hardware product.
Sending the Product for Testing—the first step to getting your product certified is locating the relevant authorities saddled with the responsibilities of testing products in your niche. In the tech industry, your device would be sent to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for appraisal.
The Wait Period—the testing process in the US generally takes a couple of weeks which is k=the waiting period till you get a result. It is also important to note that during the holiday period, this waiting time is generally extended.
Final Appraisal—sadly, not all submitted projects pass the testing process. Therefore, if your product fails during this process, you will be back to the prototyping stage while if it is successful, you will receive certification papers on the numbers and labels to include in your manual and labels.
Printing—this is the stage were you will be tasked with including all the certification numbers on your product’s manual and packaging.
Assembly—finally, your product is good to go and all that is left is transporting them to their points of sale for the viewing pleasure of customers.
Lastly, it is important to note that the entire process comes with unspecified monetary cost you must be prepared to cover. For those interested in launching their hardware products across several countries, the intended process comes with different regulations and costs you must be prepared to meet.