Switched on to safety

IECEE helps build strong consumer confidence

By Claire Marchand

When buying a new electrical appliance, who pays much attention to the cord – or to the control switch, for that matter? Customers tend to focus on the design, the look, the size, the price or the overall performance of the product. Cords and switches, seen as necessary appendages that don’t merit close examination, are seldom, if ever, part of the decision-making process that leads to the purchase of household goods. Consumers usually take it for granted that the device they acquire is safe and reliable, and will perform without any problems.

Maximum and minimum water levels are indicated on electric kettle This electric kettle cannot be switched on if it doesn't contain a minimum amount of water

Intuitive trust

In most cases, their trust is well placed. Their confidence in the high quality of the product they buy may be intuitive but it is not misplaced. It is intuitive because, more often than not, they do not know what is involved in the manufacturing of consumer goods. They may not be aware of the fact that electrical appliances are built according to very strict requirements and then tested to make sure that they are safe and reliable in use. Cords and switches are inherent parts of any electrical device and are treated in the same way as any other element of the product.

Take an electric kettle for example. It is designed to heat water at a certain temperature and will stop automatically if the device is overheating. It can’t be switched on if the water level is too high or if it is completely empty. The cable is well insulated and its wiring is correctly colour-coded. All this doesn’t happen by chance.

Built to standards...

Since 1906, IEC has led the way in establishing International Standards for energy transmission, connection and use. At each step of the way, its primary drivers are safety, energy efficiency and systems compatibility, thus enabling the safe and economic use of electrical and electronic goods and services wherever they are needed.

Manufacturers rely on standards, IEC International Standards in particular, to design and build their products. The IEC has an array of standards that deal exclusively with electrical household appliances – the IEC 60335 series – and a number of specific standards that cover cables and cords.

Automatic electrical controls for household and similar use are covered in the IEC 60730 series of International Standards.

...and thoroughly tested

Manufacturing products to standards is only the first step. To make sure their products are safe, reliable and perform according to the requirements specified in the standards, and to gain market access and the trust of retailers in the 3rd party conformity assessment undertaken, manufacturers then have to have them tested and certified.

Worldwide recognition through IECEE

This is where IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, comes into play. The IECEE CB Scheme provides the assurance that tested and certified products meet the strictest levels of safety, reliability and performance as stipulated by the relevant IEC International Standards. It helps reduce costs and time to market, eliminates duplicate or multiple testing and offers a high level of confidence for manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.

The CB-FCS Scheme for Mutual Recognition of Conformity Assessment Certificates for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components is an extension of the IECEE CB Scheme that also includes factory surveillance. This scheme goes beyond product testing. It covers Type Test and regular surveillance at the factory that manufactures the relevant certified product. This is of value to manufacturers who need to provide proof that products manufactured in a given factory offer a consistent level of quality over time.

CB-FCS includes product sampling, testing, assessment and surveillance of assembly lines and management processes and surveillance, regular sampling and retesting of products at the factory and/or in the marketplace.

Huge benefits for manufacturers…

For manufacturers, the benefits of having their products tested and certified to IECEE Schemes are manifold. Products tested and certified in one country will be accepted by certification bodies in all other IECEE member countries. Even better, global acceptance of the CB Scheme through the CB Test Certificates and associated CB Test Report is also effective in countries that are not part of the IECEE community. A CB Test Certificate is a global passport for the product. Because it takes national differences into account, it ensures easier and more rapid access to international markets and reduces the costs involved in a global product roll-out.

…and consumers

Although most consumers are not aware of the behind-the-scene steps that make a product safe and reliable, they implicitly give it their vote of confidence.

For more information on IECEE and its Schemes: www.iecee.org

Maximum and minimum water levels are indicated on electric kettle This electric kettle cannot be switched on if it doesn't contain a minimum amount of water
Defective plug. Defective plug
Only safe and efficient products should reach the local markets Flammability test performed on an electric iron