Why a BASEC product approval is the smart decision to ensure long term cable quality assurance
A product certification provides independent verification that the correct production processes and controls are undertaken by a manufacturer to verify performance against relevant standards. Cable products are also extensively tested on an ongoing basis providing reassurance to specifiers, purchasers, and end users that they are fit for purpose to provide several years of reliable service. Read on to learn more about the assessments that are carried out and why they are crucial to ensure ongoing conformity to provide peace of mind to end users.
Thorough cable assessments
Rigorous checks are undertaken as part of the process to gaining BASEC certification which includes a combination of stringent cable testing and a thorough auditing process, in addition to ongoing sampling and surveillance to monitor quality. This helps to verify that the claims of conformity made by a cable manufacturer about their cable products are valid.
Ongoing testing of cable product samples is a key requirement to the process of gaining and maintaining use of the BASEC mark. Samples are selected independently from a manufacturer’s premises by an auditor for complete impartiality. A full range of cable sizes are selected in line with the relevant national and international standards. Several tests are carried out over a three-year period as opposed to a one-off type test using a minimum of 16 samples annually through to 150 samples. Cable characteristics are monitored through different tests in line with the applicable standards to assess performance, covering areas such as reaction and resistance to fire, electrical, material, mechanical and chemical. This rigorous sampling, testing and checking process helps to verify that the cable properties and performance are consistently meeting quality standards and are in line with cable industry and end user requirements.
Factory visits are a requirement to monitor several factors such as the condition and performance of production equipment, raw materials, a manufacturers laboratory facilities and how the cables are handled and stored. The checks are assessed against BASEC’s Product Certification Requirements, PCR, which sets out the procedures and processes to demonstrate ongoing product quality. Audits are undertaken twice per year on an annual basis in addition to an ‘unannounced’ visit by a dedicated cable expert auditor. As the term suggests, an unannounced visit is carried out on a date selected at random to warrant the manufacturer is maintaining their standards of quality in line with the PCR, with no prior warning. These assessments provide preventative actions to maintain cable compliance in relation to both the products and manufacturing processes and facilities. Subsequently the accreditation of the manufacturers management systems is maintained as part of the ongoing factory audits and quality controls.
Approved cable vs Accredited Manufacturer
Often, a factory that has achieved accreditation for its management systems and factory production controls, can manufacture many different cable types and ranges within that factory. The manufacturer can decide to have only a particular cable type to be ‘BASEC approved’ from the range of cables produced in that factory. Therefore, it is important to check that when specifying BASEC cables that it clearly states ‘BASEC approved cables’ and not just a ‘BASEC accredited manufacturer’ as this can often mislead the clients into assuming that they are sourcing cables that are certified by BASEC.
Product certification from BASEC sets a bar of high quality to the cable industry and helps manufacturers to differentiate their brand and products in the market. Gaining the BASEC mark demonstrates quality, clarity and impartiality by manufacturers having met the requirements of independent complete cable assessment through testing and audit processes.
The BASEC mark of a product approval provides assurance to end users through ongoing surveillance and testing of up 150 samples, to check that the cable has maintained the same levels of quality since initial testing to gain the approval. Samples are also taken directly from the market further down the supply chain such as from the premises of Registered Stockists, to provide a safety net that cable quality has been maintained since leaving the manufacturing source. Installers and end users can have peace of mind to source and fit approved cables within confidence, reducing risk when a self-declaration of quality is required and safeguarding projects for years to come.
Furthermore, as an additional benefit to partnering with BASEC, if you combine your Product Approval and CPR requirements for Systems 1+ this can reduce your ongoing FPC audits, as these will be combined with your annual product approval audits, offering greater convenience, as well as a cost and time saving.