Manufacturers face many challenges when it comes to the product design and development process, with the goal of eventually launching a new, innovative product into the marketplace.

Typically, the process – from initial idea to product launch and beyond – can be long, complex, full of surprises, and involve many different stakeholders.

An important part of the process is third-party testing, inspection, and certification. And this, by its very nature, starts at the end of the design phase of a product’s development since a tangible, fixed design and product samples are necessary for the third-party testing agency to do its job.

Often at this stage, the manufacturer is gearing up for the launch, putting sales and marketing plans in place, and readying for a “go live” date. This puts a lot of pressure on the success of the certification phase, and timescales are often tight. This can create barriers to success.

Product launch dates can be derailed if a hitch is found in the certification stage – be it an unanticipated non-conformance or a test failure, or perhaps not having a key piece of information that a certification engineer may require during the project.

As the stages of design, development, and launch tend to be linear, the first time a manufacturer contacts a certification agency is usually when the product design has been finalized.

Fig 1 – a typical product design process

Cue Murphy’s Law – submitting a product for certification without taking the proper approach can lead to an over-budget project that misses the critical product launch date.

Early collaboration is a viable solution to this problem.

Collaboration is becoming a bit of a buzz word in our industry, brought about in no small way by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) movement, where companies are coming together to innovate and provide digital solutions to industry challenges.

Early collaboration is just as important in the safety compliance arena for a number of valid reasons, among them being that it significantly helps create a smooth certification experience.

So how can early collaboration benefit you? Taking a collaborative approach towards certification provides more effective project management and coordination, and leads to better communication. This tends to promote consistency, efficiency, and a greater chance of success for your project. In other words, collaborating with a recognized third-party testing & certification agency can save you valuable time between product idea and launch – time that can be the difference between customers buying your product or your competitor’s.

CSA Group provides several services designed to encourage early collaboration.

As one of your best resources within CSA Group, your Account Manager can help you navigate internally, connecting you to the right people for your project. They are your partner and your guide, and their goal is to provide you and your team with the best customer service. Bringing your CSA Group Account Manager into the discussion early in the development phase is your first step towards success.

CSA Group also offers a Technical Information Service (TIS), which is designed to provide valuable information prior to submitting a project for certification. A TIS does not focus on the product design, but rather provides answers to questions related to standards, the certification process, accessing global markets, custom testing options, and more. It is an excellent early collaboration resource to ensure that both CSA Group and the manufacturer are in agreement as to requirements, time-tables, expectations, and deliverables. Remember, the goal is to reduce surprises, increase communication, and provide a smoother project management experience. Using a TIS early in the process can help a project obtain success during the first submission.

Another option is to conduct pre-testing. This early testing method can help you identify problems that might delay certification, allowing you the opportunity to tweak your design before submitting the product for official testing and certification. TIC providers such as CSA Group can offer this service if you don’t have the resources to do the testing yourself – another great early collaboration tool.

And of course, there is nothing like a face-to-face meeting, or a call with a technical expert to answer any questions you have before you submit your approval. CSA Group encourages our customers to reach out with any questions in the early stages of product development.

We want to make the certification process less of a mystery, reduce surprises and costly redesigns, and work with you in order to meet your project cost and timeline commitments.

Consider early collaboration with CSA Group on your next project, and see how we can change the certification experience. Contact your Account Manager today, or call 1-866-797-4272. You can also download this infographic for a quick summary of the certification process and how to engage us early in your product design process.