Hager Putting Itself To TheTest
- Published: Tuesday, 31 March 2015 07:48
Located in Telford, the manufacturer boasts an ASTA recognised laboratory and a dedicated team are responsible for the proper conduct of verification testing made under the aegis of Intertek ASTA. Here Stephen Dyson, Market Manager, describes Hager UK’s approach to quality and testing.
The Hager Telford laboratory represents a major investment into quality and testing. The facility is an Intertek RTL level 4 ASTA recognised laboratory that is certified against the relevant requirements of BS EN ISO/IEC 17025 and has, within its scope of recognition, the ability to carry out ASTA Type/Verification Testing in application for ASTA certification, which would provide our customers with an independent compliance certificate. The key feature of ASTA Type Testing and certification is that it provides objective evidence that the products verified are compliant to the relevant product standards. All test reports and certificates are verified and issued by ASTA in the UK.
Within the testing team we have a mandated ASTA observer. He is responsible directly to ASTA for the proper conduct of testing and certification and for the accuracy of the recorded test results. He witnesses all type/verification tests that we undertake – and is personally audited by ASTA on an annual basis with regard to his technical abilities against our laboratory’s scope of recognition.
The UK laboratory is Hager Group’s centre of excellence for British Standards markets and we provide services not only for the UK operation but also to group companies around the world. Each of our products is validated through product standards, and every product we sell has been validated to carry the CE declaration of conformity to indicate that it is tested to be safe. Although the standards set out the requirements for frequency of testing, our policy is that every product is 100 per cent tested. One example of this is on our Invicta TPN line, which includes a photo-recognition tool to confirm that each board is correctly constructed.
Of course, it is a statutory requirement that our products meet specified British Standards, but those standards do not represent a target. Instead they provide a basic minimum we work from in order to achieve product differentiation in a competitive market. For example, British Standards state that all switches must comply with BS EN 60669, meaning that switches are tested as complete units. There is, however, no similar requirement for the sockets to be tested in the same way. Nevertheless, Hager repeats the relevant product tests as a finished item in the same way as the switches, ensuring that the enclosure does not adversely affect the product performance.
Having an on-site laboratory also gives us a major advantage when it comes to trouble-shooting. If there is a potential issue, we can test and resolve problems immediately. This is a service we can extend to customers, who are able to ask for test reports in situations where they have encountered a problem. The advantage of having a UK test laboratory shows itself in our return rates.
By looking beyond the minimum requirements of the standards, we can also design products that are more robust and will offer a longer service life. It is possible, for example, to design with foreseeable misuse in mind. By anticipating how a product will be fitted and used, we problem solve before the problems arise, even in matters as apparently simple as the possibility of a screw being tightened too much. This, in turn, impacts on product life.
While testing and validation is often perceived as the last stage of the production cycle, at Hager we use the experience gained in the laboratory to inform our product development. Not only is the information we gain during our testing procedures fed back in to the design teams, the laboratory team also works closely with designers to ensure that we build in quality and safety from the very start of the design process. This influences everything from the materials we use, to the assembly processes and, with our own in-house facilities, we are able to run compliance-style tests on products in the prototype stage – ensuring quality from the start rather than testing for it at the end.
Because we work to the standards and beyond, our test work is verified by a world respected independent third-party and contractors are assured of a product they can trust. Every product we develop is validated through the laboratory before we go into full production so by the time they reach market, we are confident that we are offering a product that is at the very top of the quality and safety scale and will remain so for the duration of its operational life.
For more information on Hager policies and certificates please go to: www.hager.co.uk/policies&certificates