The vision of one-stop testing and certification in Europe is significantly closer with the launch of Certalarm, the newly developed European quality mark.
Certalarm offers a unique European quality mark based on third-party one-stop testing and certification, preferably to EN54 fire standards and EN5013X security standards. It will benefit installers and end users of fire protection and security systems, as Certalarm-compliant products have a standard quality, reliability and security level across Europe.
This means installers and end customers active in several countries will have all locations at the same level of security, based on EN standards. Customers will not have to deal with different security standards.
In some countries, regulations and standards for intrusion alarm systems do not yet exist. With the introduction of EN5013X standards across Europe, these countries can guarantee a certain level of security and product reliability for intrusion alarm products. The EN standards not only describe requirements for security against intruders, but also include tests to ensure products work in demanding environmental conditions.
It is important that the products are actually compliant with EN50131. To ensure this, the products will be tested by independent and accredited laboratories, a process assured by Certalarm.
For manufacturers of fire protection and security systems, Certalarm is welcome news. They have been faced with bureaucratic, costly and time-consuming procedures, often involving multiple tests for products and services for EU member states.
Currently, products and systems undergo multiple tests and certification when companies want to trade in certain EU states. This may be the case even where harmonized standards exist, such as with fire. The time and costs are immense and result in unnecessarily high product cost. This hinders product innovation, slows market introduction and impairs competition. Certalarm, by contrast, will be a trans-European quality mark.
The drivers of the concept are not just industry players but the whole security community. The concept is based on a level playing field, or an open system where qualified test houses and certification bodies can become partners or stakeholders. This means that Certalarm is independent from the certification process related to EN and ISO standards, and is supported by stakeholders who own and manage the voluntary quality mark. Certalarm is applied to fire and security products, systems and services. Regular product validation from manufacturing lots will assure lifetime quality.
The quality mark is awarded by a newly established organization also named Certalarm, registered by Euralarm. The organization acts as an international nonprofit association and is headquartered in Brussels. Membership is open to individuals as well as legalentities in fire and security.
Euralarm, the trade association that represents electronic fire and security industries in Europe, will hand over the one-stop certification process to the Certalarm Board of Directors. The industry is ready to transfer existing certificates fulfilling Certalarm requirements, giving the quality mark a substantial boost.
This transfer arrangement for certificates is essential. It provides a means of getting the new mark into the marketplace by accelerating its acceptance, as clients will wish to migrate their products to the Certalarm mark. At the same time, it provides manufacturers an economical route to having the Certalarm mark on products and opens up new markets.
The Certalarm organization works with a number of partners, such as certification bodies and test laboratories. Current partners include the test laboratory and certification bodies ANPI (Belgium), Det Norske Veritas (Norway), Telefication (the Netherlands), the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology DBI (Denmark), and the test laboratory Delta (Denmark).
Certalarm provides many certifications. These include passive fire protection, fire detection systems, security systems, installers and maintainers, personal competency, construction products and environmental plans.
For security systems, certification is available for intrusion and hold-up alarm system components(using EN50131 series standards), including: control and indicating equipment; power supplies; detectors; warning devices; and alarm transmission systems and components (using EN50136 series standards). Future extension of the project will include: intrusion and hold-up alarm systems; video systems and components (using EN50132 series standards); access control systems and components (using EN50133 series standards); social alarm systems and components (using EN50134 series standards); alarm systems and components for vehicles and other mobile applications; and lone worker protection systems.
Even if it takes time for the Certalarm mark to penetrate the market, the free movement of fire and security systems in Europe in line with high-quality standards must become reality, if the European market wants to remain competitive and innovative. This approach is the basis for a stronger position of European certified products and systems in non-EU markets.
Along with other industry members, Bosch Security Systems supports the proposed Certalarm quality mark and is prepared to participate in marketing as well as lobbying activities. "At present, products and systems must be tested and be certified in every EU member state," said Michael von Foerster, Head of Association Government and Public Affairs, Bosch Security Systems. "The expenditure connected with this is immense. Our common target must be a uniform standardization process to avoid such costs."
The benefits of Certalarm are numerous and far-reaching. It will help to eliminate the duplication of tests and the associated costs, increasing industry efficiency and accelerating market entry at reduced cost. It will assist European cross-border trading and will ensure consistent uniform high quality across Europe over product life cycles. It will reduce fire, theft and damage losses. Certalarm will facilitate product innovation and upgrades. Project costs for users will be reduced as well, as Certalarm will support other EU service directives.