June 24, 2013
Ronald Reagan adopted this Russian proverb to refer to arms negotiations with the Soviet Union during the 1980s. More than just a political catchphrase, “trust but verify” has become a way of life for US manufacturers and for consumers who know they can trust certified products.
Think about a typical morning and you will see how product testing and certification have become part of everyday life. For example, we are awakened from our slumber by our UL-labeled alarm clock and stretch out on bedding tested and labeled that it meets CPSC flammability requirements. Next it’s a walk across carpeting certified to the CPSIA 2008, and to the bathroom where we use tap water tested to meet EPA safety standards that is delivered through faucets certified to plumbing code requirements to brush with toothpaste certified with the ADA “Seal of Acceptance.” If you think ahead in your daily routine (and I bet you will!) it’s hard to find anything we come into contact with that isn’t covered by some regulation, product specification or standard. These kinds of labels reassure consumers that their purchases will be safe for their family.
Standards and certification have taken over the world of consumer products. While product testing is often the only way to meet increasing regulations, voluntary labeling programs can help manufacturers reassure their customers that they are making the right buying decision. Certification programs go above and beyond product testing by introducing follow-up inspections at factories to help ensure that the products on store shelves will comply with the required test standards.
Is your industry considering certification program development? If so, here are few things to consider:
- Get buy-in. For certification programs to work effectively, they should be adopted by the leading brands. Certification programs can assure customers and regulators that products adhere to established industry standards while also providing a level playing field for manufacturers.
- Use existing standards. Most products, or their components, are covered by established material or product standards; there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. If there are no rules, then developing a standard is a must.
- Build consensus. The certification program rules should be based on input by industry representatives and other industry stakeholders. The program (and any referenced standards) must be developed under an accredited consensus process if it is intended to demonstrate compliance to any codes or other regulations.
- Consider a program partner. Certification is a business; a program firm can help you avoid the costly mistakes that can plague labeling projects. The firm can also help determine if a certification program makes sense.
Many Kellen Company clients have established successful certification programs for their products. To learn more, contact me at MFischer@kellencompany.com.