Peer assessment programme enhances global certification scheme

Fostering mutual trust and recognition

By Antoinette Price

From household appliances to office equipment and medical devices, when we purchase electronic products, we expect them to function properly and to be able to use them safely. We assume that this has been taken care of through the process of testing and certification. But how can we be sure that the people carrying out the tests are doing their jobs correctly?

Testing laboratory IECEE peer assessment programme enables participants to be assessed by experts working in the same market segment

Testing the testers

IECEE is the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components. The different schemes test the safety, quality, efficiency and overall performance of electrical and electronic components, devices and equipment for homes, offices, workshops and health facilities, to ensure they comply with international standards such as those published by IEC.

IECEE covers 23 categories, including batteries, cables and cords, electric vehicles, lighting, photovoltaics, portable tools and electric toys.

A core part of the Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) policy for IEC, and IECEE work, is the peer assessment programme, which allows new participants to become qualified and existing participants to maintain their qualifications; without it, they cannot operate within IECEE.

“Peer assessment offers the unique opportunity to understand how, and with which level of competence, other participants in the system operate, and to be assessed by true experts working in the same segment of the market”, said Wolfram Zeitz, Deputy Secretary of IECEE.

Peer assessment of the participants ensures that national certification bodies (NCBs), CB testing laboratories (CBTLs) and other laboratories operating in the IECEE System competently carry out the testing, by applying the Standard’s requirements and the rules of the system consistently.

IECEE peer assessment programme

The programme aims to ensure:

  • conformity of member organizations with specified requirements
  • equivalence of test and assessment results generated by the members
  • acceptance (mutual recognition) of the results from one member, by all other members.

In 2018, the IECEE Lead and technical assessor training was held in the US. Training contributes towards harmonizing processes and helps to foster mutual trust and recognition of NCBs and CBTLs. The training ensured that newly appointed assessors understood the need to assess the particular rules of the system, and to help existing assessors reach the next level of expertise. More training is expected to take place in Europe in 2019, followed by Asia in 2020, to ensure harmonized interpretations among our pool of more than 500 peer assessors.

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Testing laboratory IECEE Peer Assessment programme enables participants to be assessed by experts working in the same market segment