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How to save money on conformity assessment

Put another way, conformity assessment refers to a variety of processes whereby goods and/or services are determined to meet voluntary or mandatory standards, regulations or specifications. Most importantly, however, conformity assessment provides an assurance for customers, regulatory authorities, consumers, governments and end users that products meet - or even exceed - performance standards.

Independent assessments by third-parties can be relatively costly, which is why self assessment is so popular. Now, to assist suppliers and manufacturers in carrying out self assessments, BSI Business Information has published a new standard, BS EN ISO/IEC 17050:2004, 'Conformity assessment, Supplier's declaration of conformity'.

This standard defines the requirements that suppliers need to meet in order to make formal claims of conformity about their products, services, systems, processes or materials. Such self-certification is referred to as the 'supplier's declaration of conformity', or SDoC for short.

Working to BS EN ISO/IEC 17050, a manufacturer can issue an SDoC to self-certify its product, rather than sending the product to an external verifier such as a testing laboratory or inspection service. This has the potential to save considerable costs, with the added advantage that the product can often be developed and brought to market faster.

BS EN ISO/IEC 17050:2004 'Conformity assessment, Supplier's declaration of conformity' comes in two parts. Part 1, 'General requirements', specifies the general requirements for an SDoC and includes a sample SDoC. Part 2, 'Supporting documentation', gives details about the support documents that are needed to substantiate an SDoC. This might cover tests carried out by the supplier or an independent body in order to meet legal requirements - with the aim being to encourage acceptance of the SDoC by customers and authorities.

Another standard newly available is BS EN ISO/IEC 17040:2005 'Conformity Assessment, General requirements for peer assessment of conformity assessment bodies and accreditation bodies'. This will be most valuable to groups of peers performing conformity assessment activities, such as conformity assessment bodies and accreditation bodies conducting tests and carrying out product certifications.

BS EN ISO/IEC 17040 provides the requirements for an effective peer assessment process while allowing individual groups to adopt specific measures appropriate to their own fields. It will be of great value to import and export organisations, suppliers and customers because it enables them to formulate certification agreements and recognise each other's certifications. This will save them doubling-up on certificates.

  • BS EN ISO/IEC 17050-1:2004 (ISBN 0 580 44685 9) costs £64
  • BS EN ISO/IEC 17050-2:2004 (ISBN 0 580 44684 0) costs £52
  • BS EN ISO/IEC 17040:2005 (ISBN 0 580 45432 0) costs £92.

As an official BSI Distributor, Pilz is able to supply these standards directly to customers. The Pilz website has a list of the most popular standards in the field of machinery safety, plus a number of Published Documents (that do not have the same status as standards) and several important forthcoming standards that are currently available as a Draft for Public Comment.

*SOURCE: BS EN ISO/IEC 17000:2004

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