As my children enter their toddler years, I can see how competition will begin to play a role in our lives. My kids compete over everything — mostly toys — and they frequently end up getting angry at one another. Nevertheless, they continue, time and again, to compete against each other in whatever they are doing.
This mentality holds true in the business world as well. No matter what type of business you are in, your competition will ultimately shape your decision-making process to the point that potentially bad decisions could be made or opportunities lost. One opportunity that will put you ahead of the competition in the water treatment marketplace is product certification.
Product certification is the process by which a manufacturer certifies that its product conforms to a set of recognized industry standards. This means that products can be distinguished by consumers as having been rigorously tested. Products are evaluated in several key categories.
Testing ensures that products are safe and meet the performance claims made on the product packaging. It offers an assurance to the certifier and the consumer that the products will perform as needed and will not cause harm.
There are three different types of testing. Structural integrity testing ensures that products connected to a pressurized water supply will withstand at least 10 years of normal household use. It evaluates the system or component against water hammer events (temporary pressure surges) and extended high-pressure events.
Materials safety testing ensures that the substances used to manufacture the product will not add contaminants to drinking water. This testing of complete systems and components ensures that safe materials and processes are used.
Performance testing measures a product’s capabilities over its life and/or capacity. If consumers have specific water treatment issues, performance testing can help them select the system that meets their contaminant, flow rate and capacity needs. Systems certified for health-related contaminant reduction claims (regulated metals, organics, cysts, turbidity, etc.) have safety factors built in to ensure the systems provide safe water. A certified performance reduction claim is backed by actual performance data, not just promises.
Auditing ensures that products are manufactured in the same way, with the same materials, every time. Too often we think of audits as a burden, but a certification audit ensures that products are manufactured consistently, and many manufacturers actually find this practice helpful in creating and maintaining a reliable manufacturing process.
Literature compliance testing ensures that product packaging, installation manuals, data plates and product data sheets are consistent with test results, contain the information required by the applicable industry standard and do not make false or misleading reduction or performance claims. Product packaging and literature help consumers understand which standard the product is certified to, and how it will perform against specific contaminants.
Once a product has met all the criteria set forth in the testing, auditing and product literature standards, the literature and packaging will be allowed to bear the certification trademark of the certifying body. A certification trademark can set a product apart from non-certified products and boost consumer confidence. The certification trademark also serves as an easy indicator for inspectors and regulators to recognize that a product meets the requirements of industry standards. Each certification body also maintains a listing of products that have been certified through its program so that consumers, regulators and inspectors can easily find a certified product.
Companies interested in obtaining product certification have several options to choose from when selecting a certification body. The American National Standards Institute and the Standards Council of Canada accredit certification bodies for the evaluation of drinking water treatment units.
Product certifications from each body are equivalent. In fact, the products are evaluated using the same standards and are held to the same requirements, but you may find that one certifier suits your needs better than others. Companies interested in product certification are encouraged to contact each certification body to determine which certifier will provide them with the best product certification, regulatory acceptance, customer service and project costs.
The standards used have been created through a process in which many stakeholders — including product certifiers, manufacturers and regulators—are given the opportunity to provide input. This process ensures that all viewpoints are heard. These standards are continually reviewed and revised as new technology is released into the marketplace.
Competition can be challenging, but product certification can help give a manufacturer the edge it needs to compete, whether locally or globally. Product certification can not only help your business sell more products or services, it also confirms that consumers will get a quality product that will suit their needs while ensuring that the product has gone through a rigorous testing process. While the competition may be tough, when products are certified, everyone is a winner.