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What Does NEMA’s “Conformity Assessment” Mean?

Posted on by Kurz Industrial Solutions

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) creates standards that regulate the sale and distribution of thousands of products each year. These products are found in the electrical manufacturing industry and the medical imaging industry. NEMA’s conformity assessment is concerned with ensuring that parts and components are designed according to industry regulations. They are subjected to a stringent regulation process before being advertised on the market to ensure they are satisfactory and safe for consumer use.

 

What Does “Conformity Assessment” Involve?

In order to conform with industry requirements, a product must meet requirements established in ISO/IEC Guide 2: 1996. This guide essentially states that all products brought to market must meet certain inspection standards implemented by the industry. While the term “conformity assessment” means that a product must meet certain regulations to be acceptable for consumer use, the term is also fairly open-ended to interpretation. All products are subjected to a similar conformity assessment test that includes basic physical testing, surveillance, certification, auditing, inspection, registration, and accreditation. However, there is quite a bit of flexibility allotted to companies regarding product design and appearance. Provided their products meet these basic standards, organizations are free to design and market consumer products as they wish. However, organizations should keep in mind that additional inspection standards may apply to specific products and narrower product lines.

 

The National Conformity Assessment Strategy

The National Conformity Assessment Strategy, or ANSI, was created in conjunction with NEMA and the Board Committee on Conformity Assessment, or BCCA. This assessment strategy involves input from the government, industry members, and trade association members. Collectively, they create a National Standards Strategy, or NSS, to create a uniform and streamlined process for creating international standards that regulate electrical products. These international standards streamline the processes used to develop and enhance productivity for products in the teleconferencing sector. They also strive to educate US manufacturers, create regulations for specifiers and regulators, and facilitate the electronic transmission of documents to show the meaning of the documents for public and corporate review and comments.

At the time the NSS was created, many industry regulators suggest that it should be accompanied by the National Conformity Assessment Strategy, or the NCAS. However, the NCAS only affects the meaning of American-made products. It does not apply to products marketed to consumers on an international scale. Furthermore, due to major concerns that it impeded development of products and strategy, the NSS was met with considerable resistance when it was first deployed within the industry. This included negative feedback from the government, industry, consumers, and trade regulations. In 2001, a decision was made to limit the scope of NCAS’s principles to the United States. This decision was decided upon to reduce trade barriers and facilitate compliance with the World Trade Organization, specifically it Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, which is also called the TBT. These amendments to the NCAS’s standards were approved by the ANSI’s board of directors in 2002. Interested customers can find them on the organization’s website.

 

National and International Regulations

Today, products may be subjected to either a national or international conformity assessment, and sometimes both. There are two primary standards that apply for regulating American products under the American National Standards, or ANS. There are also some international standards that apply to the product accreditation process. In the US, a single standard is applied to the testing of each product to ensure conformity.

In the United States and around the world, products in the electrical field and medical imaging industry are subject to a variety of regulations. Several standards exist in the US and internationally for evaluating the quality and integrity of these products, through a conformity assessment, to ensure they are fit for market before reaching consumers for sales.

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