Product certification within the water treatment industry can seem overwhelming, expensive, and, to some, unnecessary. The process requires time and money, and the purpose of certification may be unclear to some. However, the competitive advantage, validation and peace of mind that come with certification prove its value time and again.
Time & Validation
Unfortunately, getting a product certified takes more than a few days, but there are good reasons for this. Depending on the standards to which a product is being certified, there may be tests required. Most products will go through at least one of the following tests, if not all three, per the standard’s requirements: performance testing, structural integrity testing, and/or material safety testing.
Performance testing determines whether a product removes what it claims to remove, such as lead or chlorine. This test usually takes five to 15 days. Structural integrity testing evaluates the structural safety of any plumbed-in system or component. This test takes one to two days. Material safety (also known as extraction) testing is performed to evaluate contaminants that leach out of wetted parts of systems or components, meaning anything that touches the water that will be consumed. This test takes six to eight weeks.
Other steps also must be taken during the certification process, such as a facility audit or literature review.
Cost & Acceptance
The cost of getting a product certified varies depending on how many standards the manufacturer is getting the product certified to, how many tests are required, how many facilities need to be audited, and the certification body performing the tests. Products being certified for performance claims can incur a range in costs based solely on the claims chosen. A chlorine reduction performance test sometimes can be 50% of the cost of a lead reduction test. The more claims being tested, the higher the price. This is because the laboratory has more tests to run.
Some states or cities have specific regulations in place that require certification in order to legally sell a product in that jurisdiction. For example, products making health claims cannot be sold in the state of California without a certification from an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited certifier, such as the Water Quality Assn. (WQA). Manufacturers may find that restaurants prefer a food service certification, such as NSF/ANSI Standards 18 or 42, before placing a product or component in the restaurant. Manufacturers with that type of certification will have an advantage over competitors that do not have their products certified.
Consumers who are aware of product certification are more likely to buy products backed by a certification body. When asked how important product certification was in their decision to purchase a system in the 2017 WQA Consumer Opinion Study, more than 60% of respondents replied with a three or higher on a scale of one to five, with five being “very important.” When looking for a product in a store, consumers most likely have a specific need: to remove lead, for aesthetic purposes, etc. The reduction claims listed on a certified product are important to consumers and might persuade them to purchase one brand over another.
If validation of a product’s claims and the material it is made of and regulatory acceptance are not reason enough for product certification, there are a few others that should alleviate any remaining doubt.
Certified products provide end users, retailers and regulators the benefit of knowing an accredited third party has evaluated not only the product’s capability of passing rigorous testing according to industry standards, but also that the process in which certified products are made is reproducible. Manufacturers are continuously monitored and can only maintain certification if their manufacturing process remains consistent. This offers peace of mind to manufacturers’ target markets.
The competitive advantage is another reason product certification is worth the time, money and effort. Displaying the logo or seal of an ANSI-accredited third-party certification body can help your product stand out.
Ultimately it comes down to the manufacturer’s decision as to whether product certification is worth the money and time. The purpose of product certification is to gain validation, acceptance by regulators, peace of mind or competitive advantage, or to even the playing field. Ultimately, the goal is to provide consumers with the best-quality product you can offer.