There’s a whole lot of difference between buying products with valid third-party certification, or not.
Especially life-safety products such as fire curtains.
With or without third-party certification there is always some risk that the product arriving on site is not identical to the tested specimen.
However, by choosing products with valid third-party certification you remove that risk from 100% sitting with you to close to 0% sitting with you.
Valid third-party certification really is the difference between 0 and 100.
In a competitive open market there is pressure…
- to make a ROI from shareholders and stakeholders,
- from lenders and banks to repay capital,
- to service loan interest (rising),
- from staff, management and seniors to ‘hit the numbers’ to ensure not only job security but also bonuses,
- from existing contracts to keep on programme or else potentially suffer consequences in the tens of thousands or more,
- to keep ahead in the market and get your product to market.
You will see below how the simple yet thorough process of third-party certification that is governed by the likes of UKAS and monitored by Notified Bodies is invaluable to safety – especially for life-safety products such as fire curtains. Life-safety products are, by definition, to make the difference between life and death. Valid third-party certification is invaluable in ensuring the production of these products is reliable and the same as what was tested. In every way.
See how it works in real-life, day-to-day, and see some of the risks that production is susceptible to in a commercial organisation without the accountability that third-party certification provides.
This process ensures you can buy, specify, and approve products from Manufacturer A with confidence that the ‘widgets’ coming out of production are going through extensive and exhaustive impartial checks and controls to ensure they are the same as the tested specimen.
Typical scenarios that could lead to a deviation from the tested specification, design, and/ or processes; what happens in real life when:
1. The components that are normally used suddenly become hard to source, with a long lead time and increased costs. Does the manufacturer wait for the correct components to become available or do they substitute ‘like-for-like’ components to keep contracts on programme to avoid suffering:
a. delays and damages (can be in the millions per day on some projects)
b. reduced manufacturing profit margin
c. loss of goodwill and reputational damage
Example: “this motor is cheaper, and the manufacturer says it is fire rated and we can get them on next day delivery. It should be fine to use instead of waiting for the motors we had tested to come back into stock.”
2. The design used for the tested specimen is proving difficult to scale up for volume manufacture.
Does the manufacturer:
a. Go back through product design and testing, thus delaying getting the product to market by a year or 2. This not only delays ROI and repayment of loans and interest, but also loses the opportunity of being ahead of the competition meaning they could be 2nd or 3rd to market with the product. They also may not have access to capital to fund the further development and/ or may not be able to service loans without the revenue from the new product?
b. Modify the design with an internally deemed ‘equivalent’ design that can be volume-manufactured with relative ease using existing capabilities?
Example: “we can’t easily position the motor recessed in the barrel 200mm as we did to pass the hot motor test so just position it in the barrel at the end as we do with our other fire curtains.”
3. Inflation hits profits and there is a new competitor with a better product. Both threaten the profitability and potentially even the viability of the company.
Does the manufacturer:
a. Look at ways to improve their design and production processes so they can provide a better product that is higher quality and lower cost and take this new design and the processes through third-party testing and certification with a Notified Body e.g, over the next two years?
b. Hold a team meeting to find ways to make the product at lower cost and more quickly. These changes will save everyone’s bonuses or even the business and are deemed internally to create little-to-no impact on the performance of the product. Is it a solution?
Example: The new Adexon design which solves the three most prevalent headaches associated with fire curtains hits the market. What is more, Adexon have invested in automation of production and have incredibly well-run and lean processes making their vastly superior product equivalent or lower in cost!
These are just some examples of scenarios that threaten deviations to the tested components or design, or even the processes. Without valid third-party certification no impartial person or entity is checking. The likelihood is that if you buy, specify, or approve products from Manufacturer B or C, you have no guarantee and little-to-no certainty (unless you are a shareholder) that the ‘widgets’ coming out of production are the same as the tested specimen. Uncomfortably, the risk sits with you. There are no upsides to taking this risk.