Understanding the Submittal Process
With our thorough knowledge of the various specs and an initial product review, we can recommend design modifications early, to avoid surprises, costly rework down the road, and factory shipment stoppages. There is never a time that is too early in the design process to involve us.
Call Safety Engineering Laboratory at (408) 544-1890 or email us at info@SELdirect.com or click here with your company information and brief product description, so that we can schedule a preliminary meeting to introduce ourselves to you, become familiar with your products, and assist you in what is often perceived as an overwhelming venture. Or fill out our online quoting form by clicking here.
After meeting with you and becoming familiar with your product and certification needs, Safety Engineering Laboratory will provide a budget proposal that includes our projected costs and estimated agency fees. We require a deposit of 50% of our estimated consulting fee in advance for new accounts with no prior credit history with us, and for existing clients when there are significant expenses incurred. An open Purchase Order for the remaining 50% would be billed at an appropriate time in the process. SEL works Time and Materials (T&M) and will estimate the total time for the project. The agency fees (UL, CSA, TUV, etc.) are billed separately, and directly to you, for reasons of transparency and ownership. The EMC test lab fees are billed through SEL at the same rate as if you contracted the EMC lab directly generally.
A Sample Budget -- More Info on Costs
Prep Draft Report & Collect Component Info
With the Purchase Order and deposit taken care of, typically, in just one day, Safety Engineering Laboratory prepares a draft report for your units at your factory, or our lab, summarizing problem areas and potential solutions. As we are collecting information for UL, we are also mindful of the additional information required by CSA, TÜV and CE marking. Our submitted reports incorporate as much flexibility as possible, allowing for alternate vendors and future design variations to avoid repetitious and costly retesting. By essentially handling the UL, CSA and TÜV simultaneously and exploiting any similarities in your various units, we employ a time-reduced, cost-efficient certification method.
Although we have refined the certification process, you are really the key to the success of our program. Our program works most effectively when you supply us with support, such as providing component approval status and possible second sources. In general, all components in the primary circuitry must have approvals, with the power supply (or mains transformer) being the most important. During this stage, most of the constructional and design issues are fleshed out and summarized.
Open Project with Safety Agency
To open a project with the safety agency, Safety Engineering Laboratory will provide a summary the product and project details - and the following:
An Agent Authorization Form must be signed by a corporate officer in order for SEL to begin dialogue with the agency on your company's behalf. SEL will provide you with the Form, after receiving notification that you would like us to proceed with the submittal.
A 50 to 100% deposit for first-time clients is required in advance before opening projects with the agencies. The deposit checks should be made out to the appropriate agency after formal quoting, and given to Safety Engineering Laboratory for forwarding to the agencies with the letter to open the project. Please note that we cannot set the fees that the agencies charge, but base our estimates on our recent projects. Please provide these deposits to SEL for forwarding to the agencies at the proper time, with other application materials.
After receiving our initial letter requesting the opening of the project and the signed Agent Authorization Form, the agencies will generate their appropriate contracts, which will need to be signed by a corporate officer and given to SEL for forwarding to the agency at the appropriate time.
Typically, our policy is to perform the necessary tests at our laboratory. Pretesting in our lab reduces agency engineer on-site time, allows review of multiple clients' units in the same day, and reduces costs considerably. Our ability to accurately pretest makes certification a near certainty -- 'a process, not an experiment', as we like to say. We welcome you to come to our facility and be involved in any phase of the testing, which helps to clarify the design requirements and testing procedures with "hands-on" experience.
The second option is testing at your facility, which is the only possibility for large, complex, or scarce units. It is also a great learning experience for your people, who can gain a better, first-hand understanding of the certification process. History has shown that our role can decrease as the in-house personnel gradually assume more responsibilities, if so desired. The main downside to this method are increased costs from the added time to set up the test equipment at your facility and the logistics of coordinating people's schedules, testing space, and sample availability.
The third option -- one we rarely ever use -- is to send the sample directly to the agency, like most companies doing this for the first time on their own. The only reason for us to select this option would be to have the agencies perform a test that we cannot do in our own lab. It is a major disadvantage to lose control of the sample, schedule and process in this way, and we recommend it be avoided, if possible.
Final Submittal Package to Safety Agency
After successful completion of the testing, collecting the necessary component information (including second sources), collecting the draft of the manual with all needed compliance information, the package is then submitted to UL for a final review. It is at this time where model numbers, ratings, critical components and the like should be finalized. There is often effort required on a straggler or loose end, in order the throw everything over the wall to the agency, for us to say everything is in their court to finish.
Final Agency Review & Report Issued
Once the final package is reviewed and the UL engineers are satisfied that the product complies based on the submittal provided and the testing is completed, they can issue a letter notifying the client that the engineering review is complete. Usually within a couple weeks of the letter's issuance, the final Report, or the UL Procedure is issued to the client. However, for first-time UL clients, a scheduled audit of the factory's production procedures -- called an Initial Production Inspection (IPI) -- must take place before units can be shipped with the Listing Mark. We can help train your factory personnel to meet the requirements of these Inspections, which after the IPI, will take place as often as four times per year, unannounced.
On-Going Factory Inspections with Agency
We provide support after your product is certified by training your factory personnel to meet the demands of Follow-Up Inspections. Typically, on the production line, AC-powered products are required to be 100% hipot and ground-continuity tested, so plans should be made to procure the testing equipment, if necessary. The agencies confirm, as often as four times per year for each agency, that the units continue to be built at the factory in accordance with the approved construction evaluated. If the UL Field Representatives find a dramatic deviation of the manufactured products from the compliant construction, UL can withdraw the authorization to apply its Mark, take back the Report that normally resides at the Factory, and require re-submittal for the altered construction. Although most attention is typically focused on obtaining the initial Listing, the longer term relationship with UL is through the on-going Follow-Up Inspections.