Companies spend a great deal of time and money securing approvals from third-party agencies such as UL and CSA. While the approvals process is designed to ensure a level playing field among competing products, the cost can be substantial. It is in the best interests of component manufacturers to streamline the approvals process, minimizing additional costs and labor hours. This article will offer strategies for a more efficient process.
What is an NRTL?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for regulating product and environmental safety for American workers and consumers. To that end, the organization administers the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory Program, designed to recognize private-sector organizations (certified as NRTLs) which meet the necessary criteria. NRTLs test products to OSHA’s safety standards. Each NRTL applies to be recognized for the specific testing it wishes to administer.
NRTL status is given to an organization which has submitted application materials; passed the extensive, on-site review process; and received a positive report and recommendation by the staff who conducted the inspection. The recognition lasts five years, after which the NRTL must apply for a renewal.
How do NRTLs serve the marketplace?
Third-party-verified products benefit customers in several ways. The most obvious benefit is knowing that the NRTL-marked product is built to operate within recognized safety parameters. Also, the process is meant to promote fair play in the marketplace. When a potential customer begins to research the best component for his or her application, products from several competitors can be evaluated based on factual, third-party-verified specifications.
The customer may be designing a product which will require NRTL verification, too. In this instance, it makes sense to purchase a component which is already marked, thereby ensuring that his or her company will not have to incur the extra time and cost of component testing before the final product can be approved.
For a component manufacturer, NRTL testing and marking can also be viewed as a valuable sales and marketing tool. The certified mark lets prospective buyers know that the product is safe and reliable, offering a competitive advantage.
Getting a Product Tested
While each NRTL has its own process steps for new submissions, there are certain milestones to keep in mind. These are:
This is meant to be a total product review, including how the product is made and how it is meant to work. It must cover every product model and option available.
Tips for a Streamlined Process
Ensuring a smooth testing process means less labor hours, a faster turnaround time and a more precise result. The good news is that there are ways to accomplish this, including:
No one has more thorough product knowledge than the manufacturer. So, leverage that expertise to assist the test engineer throughout the process. Detail, organization, and clarity from the beginning of the NRTL approvals process can mean an easier road to success.