An historic agreement between the International Electrotechnical Commission (www.IEC.ch), the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (www.ilac.org/ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (www.iaf.nu) will help significantly reduce cost, time and complexity for the reassessment of certification bodies and testing laboratories that are accredited by IAF and ILAC member accreditation bodies (AB). One of the most important outcomes of the tripartite memorandum of understanding signed in Shanghai, China, last year will be that, henceforth a single reassessment—instead of three—will suffice and be accepted by all three bodies.
This type of cooperation agreement is unprecedented in the conformity assessment world and builds on years of collaboration between IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems, ILAC and IAF. It directly and positively impacts the certification bodies and testing laboratories that are accredited by IAF and ILAC member ABs, and operate as registered members of the relevant IEC CA systems. The three bodies have already put in place a successful pilot program to test this new approach, and have set up a dedicated website at www.iec-ilac-iaf.org to implement the tripartite agreement.
Under the memorandum of understanding between the organizations, a common steering committee was created, and held its first meeting under the chairmanship of Pierre de Ruvo, IECEE’s executive secretary. Regina Robertson, ILAC AIC’s chairman, has been named secretary. This new steering committee will be responsible for developing cooperation strategies, providing support and dealing with project issues and deliverables.
Another objective set out by the memorandum is to facilitate a coordinated application of ISO/IEC standards and guidance documents for the purpose of assessment of certification bodies and testing laboratories operating in the IEC CA systems. This includes a common understanding of the technical issues and the harmonization of the respective assessment procedures. Provisions are also made for joint training and workshops for lead assessors, and, when possible, joint work on the development of harmonized procedures and policies.
IEC is the world’s leading organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. In addition, IEC also manages conformity assessment systems that certify that equipment, systems or components conform to its international standards.
IECEE is the IEC’s flagship system for conformity assessment of electrotechnical equipment and components. It operates the CB Scheme and the Full Certification Scheme, including factory inspections. IECEE provides third-party conformity testing and certification for safety and performance of home and office equipment, home entertainment, medical devices, cables, lighting, portable tools and solar photovoltaics. The IECEE website (www.iecee.org) provides a complete list of the product categories it certifies.
ILAC is an international cooperation of laboratory and inspection accreditation bodies formed more than 30 years ago to help remove technical barriers to trade. ILAC counts as its members laboratory and inspection accreditation bodies representing more than 90 economies and regional organizations. ILAC focuses on developing and harmonizing laboratory and inspection accreditation practices and for promoting laboratory and inspection accreditation to industry, governments, regulators and consumers.
IAF is the world association of conformity assessment accreditation bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programs of conformity assessment. Its primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment, which reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates may be relied upon.