The Importance of Testing and Certification in Product Development

Huge thank you to Andrew Hyatt of Intertek for authoring this article on why testing and certification is key to consider in the product development process! Read on to learn more and find out how to engage.

Product testing and certification should be a boardroom-level discussion, not simply the last step of research and development (R&D). Their implications can impact customer satisfaction, brand reputation, supply-chain partnerships, marketing strategies, and ultimately your bottom line. 

Ensuring product quality and safety is critical for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps to keep people and property safe. Products that are assessed for performance and safety can also be more successful in the marketplace, enhancing brands and reputations. And, importantly, there are legal/regulatory requirements products must meet to be sold in certain markets.

Around the world, there are governing bodies who implement product safety and performance standards. Most of these derive from international standards drafted by standard development organizations (SDOs), made up of experts from their respective industries. Requirements vary based on industry and product type. Manufacturers can also elect to have products assessed to voluntary standards for performance, quality, or other safety considerations. These assessments, whether required or voluntary, form the basis of the testing and certification process.

Testing must be done by an approved, accredited lab who identifies the applicable standard(s). Manufacturers provide the lab with samples that represent the product as it is to be manufactured and sold. The lab evaluates the samples and compiles a test report illustrating compliance or non-compliance to the standard. Compliant products may then be eligible for certification by a certification body (CB). Non-compliant products must be redesigned and retested after issues are addressed. 

The CB uses the test results to certify that a product adheres to regulatory requirements. Once certification is issued, the product is listed in the CB’s directory and certification marks – which illustrate compliance for retailers, inspectors, consumers, and other audiences – can be affixed to products for sale. Manufacturers also agree to quarterly follow-up inspections at the site where the product is made to ensure ongoing compliance.

Though it may seem like testing and certification is the final step in a long process, manufacturers would do well to consider testing requirements from the initial stages of product development. Waiting until the end of the process often leads to unexpected non-conformity, resulting in added expenses, delays in launch, competitors getting to market first, and potential hits to brand reputation. A project could be scrapped all together or a product that does not require certification could go to market and disappoint customers – or worse, hurt someone. 

When products are designed with regulatory requirements in mind and tested during product development, unexpected surprises can be avoided and the likelihood of compliance at the end are greater. Testing throughout the process and keeping requirements in mind can help reduce costly, time-consuming redesigns or other re-dos. It can help get a product to market, quickly, efficiently and on time. Doing so can help to ensure a product, and a company’s, overall success.

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