Products that don’t conform to specific standards for which they were designed are not much good. That’s why, in a joint initiative, the IEEE Standards Association and the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (ISTO) have rolled out the IEEE Conformity Assessment Program (ICAP). Conformity assessments are measures taken by manufacturers, their customers, regulatory authorities, or independent third parties to test that products, technologies, and services conform to standards. ICAP is aimed at helping speed up the implementation of new IEEE standards and their associated technologies by offering conformity assessment activities and services.
FASTER TRACK “If you write a standard for some purpose, you want to make sure a technology or product meets that particular standard,” says Rudi Schubert, director of conformity assessment for IEEE-ISTO, in Piscataway, N.J. “The conformity assessment program is a way to increase the value of standards and get the technology adopted faster.”
Before a product is introduced, it undergoes a battery of tests, evaluations, and certifications, and, occasionally, a check to determine if it meets regulatory compliance requirements, all to ensure it meets certain specifications. Confirming that the product complies with all the stipulations can be time consuming; miss a single step and the product’s release is delayed. ICAP offers its services to move the test process along. Working with independent test organizations and test equipment manufacturers, it creates the requirements for certification, develops test methods, and compiles the results.
“A lot of IEEE standards don’t tell you how to test to them. They provide conceptual expectations, but they don’t always explain the test methodology to use,” Schubert says. “Certification programs have to be well defined and specific about how to actually implement the standard. Certification gives the end user assurance that the product has been checked by an independent party, meets all specifications, and is of good quality.”
Once a product is certified, ICAP can also help with creating a certification mark or logo, possibly incorporating the IEEE brand.
“We’re looking at offering the option of integrating the IEEE name into a certification mark as a way to add value to the product,” Schubert says. “It’s not just anyone’s certification behind the certification mark but a very credible organization: IEEE.”
A PRIMER To help the various stakeholders in product development—manufacturers, standards development groups, and test organizations—get up to speed on the benefits and processes involved with certification, ISTO is holding the IEEE Conference on Product Certification and Conformity Assessment from 1 to 2 June at the IEEE Operations Center in Piscataway. At the conference, industry representatives will cover topics such as selecting technical test criteria, choosing a test laboratory, and developing post-certification processes.