Are Safe Electronics Good Electronics?
The consumer electronics market is filled to the brim with variety. Products come in all shapes, colours and sizes, with a multitude of uses, making users’ lives easier, more efficient and sometimes more enjoyable. Since such products easily enter consumers’ lives, they have to be safe to use.
Manufacturers are therefore required to comply with various sets of regulations that ensure the safety of these products. While the safety of products is highly important, their overall quality should be just as relevant.
Is Your Product Fit for Use?
All products which satisfy the legal requirements are assumed to be safe to use, free of hazardous substances, and energy efficient. However, when it comes to evaluating the quality of a product and how good a product performs its intended functions, the rules are rarely prescribed. A product which satisfies a set of requirements, is considered to be a product of good quality. Quality specifications might be outlined in a legal contract, but a lot of times, they are implied through the very nature of the product – for example a toaster is expected to be a device which toasts sliced bread adequately.
In order to illustrate quality in the E&E sector, a product should be:
- Safe to use
- Easy to handle
- Able to fulfil its advertised features
While safety testing ensures that a product complies with relevant legal requirements, it does not cover all the other characteristics of a product. This is where the Fitness For Use (FFU) approach comes in. The purpose of FFU is overseeing the quality of various types of electrical and electronic products, including household appliances, such as dishwashers, microwave ovens, but also audio and video equipment.
FFU testing ensures compliance with legal requirements, while providing performance testing guidelines, as well as information about the quality of a product and its suitability for its advertised purpose.
The goal of FFU tests is to prove quality and durability, by adapting the amount of testing cycles to the estimated life span of the product tested. Ensuring a product is strong enough for normal usage, but also for potential misuse without suffering any damage, malfunction or disruption is achieved during FFU testing by increasing the load applied during the tests.
These tests are crafted based on applicable standards, intended fitness for purpose and performance requirements, while taking into consideration common sense, flexibility, and creativity. The structure of FFU test programmes, as they stand today, can be influenced by the results of tests conducted by consumer protection agencies.
Fitness For Use - How It Works
Intended use or the bending capacity of cables, are a few of the factors considered when performing FFU tests on products such as headsets and earphones. Other factors, like the flexibility of the headband and comfort levels during prolonged use are also checked. Testing if the headset will still function should it accidentally be dropped is achieved through drop tests, performed in tandem with weather conditions tests, which are meant to ensure that these products will function as intended under different weather conditions, such as hot, cold or humid climates.
Measures of the Fitness For Use programmes also include physical reviews of the product itself, its packaging and labels, as well as an analysis of user manuals from a user’s perspective – to ensure that the product is functioning as advertised and that the instructions are unambiguous and comprehensible. At the end of FFU testing, a product can be awarded one of the following evaluation results: very good, good, satisfactory or poor.
Fitness For Use Testing - At Your Disposal
Through its global network of Electrical & Electronics testing labs, with facilities located close to all major manufacturing regions, SGS can offer manufacturers tailored FFU test packages for most types of consumer electrical and electronics products.
Products tested by SGS that have passed all FFU evaluations, along with all mandatory testing requirements, and have achieved an evaluation result of (at least) ‘satisfactory’ will also receive the ‘SGS Performance Tested’ quality mark. This SGS mark strengthens retailers’ confidence that these consumer electronics can gain worldwide market access quickly and will pass any future surveillance checks.
For more information on SGS FFU and performance testing services visit SGS Electrical and Electronics or contact:
Global Certification Manager
SGS Hong Kong Ltd.
5/F, 8/F, Manhattan Centre, 8
t: +852 2774 7132