In the United States, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Certification process is designed to ensure a minimum quality level and ensure certain safety standards for applicable products. NEMA oversees conformity and safety for products in the areas of electronics and medical imaging. In order to get laboratory accreditation, a company must design a product to meet rigid standards. A product undergoes a NEMA test before it is permitted to enter the market as a NEMA-certified product.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association applies to over 300 companies nationwide that produce electrical equipment or medical imaging devices. Specifically, NEMA accredits products in seven markets:
- Building infrastructure
- Building systems
- Industrial products and systems
- Utility products and systems
- Medical imaging
- Transportation systems
- Lighting systems
What is important for product manufacturers to know, however, is that NEMA itself does not certify products. The organization is a trade association for the electrical industry that is concerned with government affairs, market economics, and product standards.
One of the main ways that a product becomes NEMA-accredited is by meeting certain standards for conformity. The organization creates a conformity assessment for evaluating all products. As defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2: 1996, approval for these products requires that certain standards are met through a series of tests. Products or services are put through various assessments to determine their suitability for market. This includes testing, surveillance, certification, auditing, inspection, registration, and approval if a product passes all tests.
Naturally, some codes exist to ensure a means of testing a product for conformance and safety. In the United States, the main product certification categories are ANSI/ASTM E 1906-99 and ANSI ASTM 1904-00. The first code applies to entities operating product certification systems. The second one covers general criteria for suppliers to maintain conformity. In addition to these main certification standards, there are additional design and safety standards that apply to individual products or smaller groups of products.\
Two categories govern accrediting: national and international. There are two categories in the United States for product accredits, which are collectively called the American National Standards, or ANS. There are several international standards for the accreditation process, too.
US Accreditation Standards
American National standards are governed by ASTM E548-94. These standards use a general NEMA-designed list of criteria to evaluate product competence for laboratories. The guide establishes procedures that must be conducted to test a product for safety and quality standards. One stipulation is that every product must be tested based on a single standard test. This requirement creates a benchmark for product quality and safety. It also ensures conformity.
International Accreditation Standards
On an international scale, products are accredited by a standard called ISO/IEC 17025:2000. This standard sets general requirements on an international level for testing products and ensuring conformity. An additional accreditation code, found in ISO/IEC Guide 58: 1993, also has standards for product calibration. This code mandates testing and operation requirements for international laboratories as well.
Sectors Affected by Accreditation Standards
For the most part, NEMA’s accreditation standards apply to the public sector. However, the organization has the capability to extend its regulatory procedures to the private sector as it deems necessary.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is an influential and instrumental organization for ensuring that safe electrical and medical imaging products reach the market. NEMA’s laboratory accreditation standards cover a number of industries and apply to companies involved in the domestic and international markets. Outside of the US, electrical products are subject to additional international accreditation.