Industrial Field Evaluations, CE, Semi, EMI/EMC, Listings, Conformance Testing,
Testing Labs LLC Safety you Can Trust
Portland office - 503-429-7006, Fax: 503-429-5237, Seattle Office - 206-915-4305
Field evaluations cover a wide variety of projects from simple panels to tower elevators
American Industrial Testing Labs has performed evaluations with almost every type of equipment, from medical to hazardous equipment and everything in between.
American Industrial Testing Labs can also perform European CE and Semi S2 and S8 evaluations for the semiconductor industry as well as conformance, compliance, listings and EMI/EMC.
American Industrial Testing Labs Is a very different company. We believe that if our clients get good service and a good product in a timely manner our clients will use us again and again. We want to be part of your team not just another vendor. There are often many ways to make a correction on a piece of equipment, we try to find the least costly approach that still meets the requirements of the applicable standard, and provides the maximum safety. We do the most complete evaluations in the industry to reduce your liability to it’s lowest possible level.
This web page is not an advertizement but an information and resource page.
Product Safety Liability
The Evaluation and Testing
Finding a Testing Laboratory
Third Party Testing and Evaluations
CE or European Compliance
Listing with an NRTL
Semi S2 for the Semiconductor Industry
RF or EMI/EMC Testing
Conformance or Compliance Testing
Product Safety and Liability
Many jurisdictions throughout the US require that equipment in the work place be either listed or third party certified. This is a Federal requirement by Federal OSHA as can be seen in section 110 of the National Electric Code. However many States and jurisdictions do not require equipment in the work place to be listed or certified. The problem with this is that should an accident occur with an unlisted piece of equipment the owner of that equipment is accepting all liability of the unlisted equipment because it is still a Federal OSHA requirement. Product liability suits are the largest of all law suits. A small product safety law suit can be in the millions of dollars. To make things worse if an accident occurs with the unlisted equipment the insurance companies do not cover unlisted equipment. So the liability goes back to the owner of the equipment. There is also the cost of down time loss of employee work time, health insurance, possible damage to the building and the equipment.
Oddly enough if the equipment is listed or third party certified, everyone’s liability goes to almost nothing.
The bottom line is that accidents involving unlisted equipment can be extremely expensive.
The Evaluation and Testing Procedure
The general procedure for any product safety evaluation is the same. Some like the CE mark and a listing are more involved.
Once you start the procedure you will be asked by the laboratory to provide some data on the equipment like schematics and cut sheets on the safety critical components. Then the engineer/inspector will follow or create a parts list to make sure the components are listed or certified. This can be a time consuming portion of the evaluation depending on the laboratory doing the evaluation. We use technology to greatly reduce this portion of the process. This saves you a lot of money by reducing the hours to do the project. Once this is completed the equipment is compared to the applicable standard to see if and where it does not conform. As nonconformance items are found they are put into a correction list that eventually will be provided to you. There are a few laboratories that will tell you what they have seen done in that situation by other companies. But remember they can not re-engineer the product. It will be your responsibility to make the corrections. The laboratory can not do this for you since it would be conflict of interest for the them. Once the corrections have been made the laboratory will confirm that the corrections meet the requirements of the standard. At this point there are a battery of test that are spelled out in the standard. You will be required to run the equipment for these test or in some cases train the engineer/inspector to operate the equipment. Once the equipment has passed the testing, a report is generated. If required a label certifying the safety of the equipment is applied at this time.
The laboratory is required by the State(s) and Federal OSHA to maintain the file on your equipment for up to 10 years. However confidentiality is also a requirement. The laboratories have to have your written permission to provide any information in your file to anyone else as required by Federal OSHA and the States.
Finding a Testing Laboratory
The question is what are you looking for in a laboratory to insure you will get good service and the correct evaluation that will meet your needs.
There are hundreds of Product Safety Laboratories throughout the world but the laboratory has to be correctly certified for the project you have. If it is a listing, that can only be done through a laboratory that is recognized by Federal OSHA or an (NRTL) Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. However many good laboratories work through one of the eighteen NRTL’s. The accreditation is very difficult and very expensive for NRTL status.
The major issues are the quality of service, the knowledge of the engineer/inspector and reputation of the laboratory your thinking of using. Some of the bigger laboratories are very difficult to work with and are very high dollar. So often there are advantages in knowing which laboratories have the better reputation. So ask questions like what am I going to have to do to get this equipment certified? If the laboratory explains the process in depth and makes a commitment to provide you with information about completing the corrections and can do it in a timely manner that laboratory is probably a good prospect. Like any project where your hiring a contractor get more then one estimate for that first project. If you can find out what other companies have used this laboratory and if you can contact those companies and find out how the laboratory did for them, you will be way ahead.
Remember just because a laboratory is big or an NRTL or has a long history does not mean they do a good job for their clients. Trust me there are several bad laboratories out there. Remember that this is not a cheep process even for the third party evaluations. There may be sticker shock.
Third Party Testing and Evaluations
If your equipment is not listed and/or the equipment has been red tagged by your local jurisdiction you may need a third party safety label for that piece of equipment. The procedure is the same as for a listing but you have the advantage of knowing where that equipment is going, so you will not need to go through the more involved listing process. The third party process is a streamlined version of the listing process and therefore is far less expensive. If your equipment was red tagged by a local jurisdiction inspector do not argue with the inspector, this is a losing situation. Discuss the issues with him and if you do have to do the evaluation get all the information you can from the inspector and relay that to the laboratory. Most likely the local jurisdiction inspector and the engineer/inspector with the laboratory are both members of the IAEI (International Association of Electrical Inspectors, so they speak the same language. The engineer/inspector from the laboratory can assist you if needed with the local jurisdiction and may know the inspector. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this situation.
The third party evaluation process is for a single piece of equipment only, so the field label is only for that one piece of equipment. However should you have more then one piece of identical equipment you may only have to have one evaluation done on one and then the testing for each additional piece. This can save you money.
If your buying a large and complex piece of equipment from outside your area or from another country, it may be far cheaper to have the preliminary evaluation done at the manufactures site, then have the testing done at the installation site. This will save you having electricians making expensive changes to the equipment where it would have been cheep at the factory with factory personnel. We have a good understanding of Asian and European culture and business culture and this can be a huge advantage when trying to interface with another country.
The testing involved for third party evaluations is fairly simple and will not harm the equipment. The test required are the temperature test where the equipment is run for 1 hour then all the temperatures are measured with an infrared temperature meter. Then the voltage and current are measured when the equipment is running at full load. Then a Hi-Pot test is done with the power off. If the equipment is 120VAC and cord connected a leakage test is done. Generally these are the only test done in the field but some standards do require one or two other test.
Once the equipment makes it to this point a safety label is applied and the report written and provided to you and if required to the local jurisdiction.
Ok how much money are we talking? A really small project could be as low as $600.00. The average project will be from about $1000.00 to $2500.00. A really large and complex piece of equipment could be as much as $30,000.00 or more.
CE or European Compliance
The CE mark is a self certification process where the manufacturer certifies that the product or machine meets all the European requirements for that particular piece of equipment. That sounds easy! Unfortunately it’s not and it is relatively expensive. The penalties for selling a piece of noncompliant equipment in Europe high and can in rare cases can include jail time. Most companies both large and small will have their product evaluated and tested by a third party testing laboratory. This insures that the product really does comply with the European requirements.
The process is the same as the others but is very heavy in the paperwork area. A file is put together by the laboratory that has all information about the product. The unit has some testing that has to be done and an RF emissions and susceptibility test done (EMI/EMC). The EMI laboratory also runs test like the Electrostatic discharge test (ESD) as well.
Once the product safety laboratory and the EMI/EMC have completed their testing and evaluation to the European standards and large binder is compiled by the product safety laboratory and provided to you. When that is completed you can then apply the CE mark for Europe.
Cost - a small project may be as low as $10,000.00 and could be as high as $50,000.0 or more for a very complex system. The average is $15,000.00 to $25,000.00.
There are currently 18 Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories that are certified with Federal OSHA. All of these Laboratories have the same level of accreditation. The only differences are the standards they can test to and how well they deal with their clients. The last part varies greatly. So pick carefully. Remember bigger is not necessarily better.
The process is the same as the others but the testing is more involved because we don’t know where the equipment is going to be installed. So for a listing all possible situations have to be covered. This process can take from 6 to 8 weeks to a year or more depending on the laboratory.
After the product goes through the evaluation and testing phase a factory inspection has to be done. You will have two test you have to perform on each piece of equipment you manufacture, the Hi-Pot and continuity test. You have to log each test for each piece of equipment you build and ship. They will be inspecting another unit like the one that went through the listing process and looking at the paper trail to insure that the parts will always be the right ones as spelled out on your PO’s. They will make sure your Hi-Pot tester is in calibration and the continuity testing is being done correctly.
Your required to have a follow up inspection like the factory inspection ever 3 months.
There is also a charge for labels or the ability to add the NRTL mark to your manufacturing label.
Cost - A simple unit as low as $4,000.00 to a complex piece of equipment $60,000.00 or more. Quarterly inspections can run from$500.00 to $1,500.00. Labels from $0.05 to $0.15 each and the annual fee for adding their NRTL label to your manufactures label $100.00 to $300.00.
Semi S2 for the Semiconductor Industry
Of all the testing and evaluations this one can be the most extensive. The Semi guideline covers any thing you can think of from electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic radiation, ergonomics you name it. The guideline also requires that the field evaluation be done as well. The good news is this is normally a one time certification.
Cost - Typically $10,000.00 and up depending on the complexity of the equipment and how many areas of the Semi guideline need to be preformed. Usually when you say Semi S2 it means Semi S2 and Semi S8 or ergonomics and some risk assessment.
Conformance and Compliance Testing
This is testing to a specification or standard to see if it complies. Crash testing for instince would fall into this area. This can be a single test or a battery of test.
Cost - $200.00 and up.
RF or EMI/EMC Testing
EMI is testing for the radio frequency emissions that most electric or electronic equipment emit. This is done for US FCC and European standards. This requires very special and expensive equipment.
EMC is testing to see if radio frequency energy can disrupt the equipment. This is for European standards. Again this takes very special equipment.
There are a lot of other test that fall into this field such as electrostatic shock (ESD), line voltage variations testing such as droop, surge and brown out to list just a few.
Often you will want to have a good radio frequency trouble shooter on hand because these types of problems can be difficult to locate and resolve.
Cost - low end $2,000.00 to $50,000.00 for systems.
If someone get’s hurt or killed often it is not obvious what caused the accident. Here you want someone that has an extremely broad background in many different fields. Many in the Product Safety industry meet that requirement so many laboratories also do forensics.
This type of work is time consuming and your always working with attorneys that may or may not know what they are talking about, so part of the job is education to help them do their job.
Cost - expensive — as low as $10,000.00 to an average of $60,000.00.
The Product Safety Laboratory does a many types of projects. They could include ground resistance and ground impedance testing, breaker testing component testing to name just a few.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. If we don’t know it, we will find it or point you in the right direction.
We want to be part or your team not just a vendor.
American Industrial Testing Labs Co.
55371 McDonald Road
Vernonia, OR 97064
Alfred (Sandy) A. Mikalow III