What you need to know:
When you’re looking to invest in a product, there’s the possibility that you’ll see a logo or read a note in the description that indicates that it has been tested and certified by a third party. For instance, fire safety equipment is often approved by a recognised scheme, while certain security doors or windows need to meet the standards of certain types of attack against them.
But what is third-party testing and certification? In this guide, we’re going to consider this question, look at who carries it out, and explain whether the process is necessary, as well as what benefits it offers.
Third-party testing and certification is a quality control process where an independent organisation reviews a product to see if it meets certain standards. The testing is usually focused on the manufacturing phase and how well the finished product performs under certain conditions. Though the vast majority of manufacturers will run their own quality control checks in-house, involving an industry-recognised third-party ensures there’s no bias or skewing of results.
If a product passes all of the necessary tests, it will be awarded certification, typically in the form of a written assurance or as a graded result depending on performance. Manufacturers will typically opt for third-party testing so that potential clients can make an informed purchasing decision and buy with confidence. The certifier’s mark is usually displayed on packaging, included in marketing materials, or found on the product itself.
There are a number of things that a third-party can inspect, but the most common check is one made of the finished product to ensure it is up to standard. Other types of check may include a pre-production inspection of raw materials to verify their quality, and a during production inspection that looks at randomly selected units to make sure production is going as intended.
Third-party testing is carried out by an independent organisation or company that has the capacity to thoroughly examine the manufacturing and performance of a product. They must also comply with ISO 17020, the international standard for bodies that carry out inspection. The ISO confirms that they are impartial and consistent when testing and certifying.
Furthermore, any third-party must not be involved in any other activities, such as design, procurement, fabrication, construction, or installation. They can only partake in the inspection and testing process.
Third-party testing and certification is not always a necessity, but many industries require some products to meet certain standards, particularly when they are critical for safety or security.
For instance, a fire door is an essential component in the safety of a building, providing both a barrier to a potential fire and a means of escape. The Fire Safety Order 2005 rules that these doors need to be tested to the standard of either BS 476-22:1987 or BS EN 1634-1:2014, both of which measure the fire resistance of the product.
The testing and certification of any fire door needs to be carried out by an independent third-party, and a door must pass before it can be put on the market. A good example can be found here at Bradbury Group, where our fire-rated doors are certified to industry standards by CERTIFIRE, an independent scheme that is recognised by regulatory authorities around the world. To attain this, we had to satisfy their rigorous testing standards. Under the Certifire scheme, our fire doors are certified to prevent the spread of fire for up to 240 minutes (4 hours).
There are, however, some types of third-party testing that aren’t mandatory and are undertaken on a voluntarily basis by companies. One example of this can be found in eco-certification schemes, such as the Carbon Trust Standard. This certification is not enforced by law, but allows a company to show their green credentials. Like any other third-party inspection, if an organisation meets the requirements of the scheme, they are allowed to market themselves with the certification.
Now that we’ve looked at the essentials of third-party testing and certification, we can explore some of the benefits that the process can offer.
It’s completely independent.
One of the main benefits of third-party testing is that it’s carried out by a completely independent body, rather than by the manufacturer (first-party) or the customer (second-party). As the certifying party has no financial interest in the product, isn’t subject to internal pressures, and must also be an expert in the field, their findings are much more balanced and credible, with zero bias.
Better and more consistent quality of products.
Allowing a third-party to thoroughly inspect your products and the manufacturing process is likely to lead to a better-quality item and more consistency in standards across the board. Though you may be carrying out your own checks in-house, an impartial inspection by an experienced independent party can find defects or other issues that your own team missed.
As a result, you can take steps to remedy the flaws before your product gets to market, making sure that your customers are receiving a high-quality item. And, once you know the areas where you can make improvements, you can then apply these measures to future batches and even other lines, improving the overall standard of your product offering.
Ensures safety and security standards are met.
When your products are relied upon for safety or security, third-party testing and certification plays an important role in making sure they meet the right standards — so much so that independent inspection is enshrined within the law for many critical products. In many cases, any third-party must be regulated in how they carry out testing, so you can be sure that the process will be rigorous and appropriate to meet industry standards.
Even if there isn’t compulsory third-party certification in your sector, subjecting your product to this process will help to maintain a higher level of safety and reliability for your customers.
At Bradbury Group, we take great care to manufacture the best security doors on the market, which means they are tested to the highest industry benchmarks. Our security doors are LPCB certified, the leading loss prevention standard, and we have products that offer LPS 1175 SR2, SR3, and SR4 levels of security.
Boosts customer confidence in products and services
Another big advantage of undertaking third-party testing is that your customers are much likelier to have confidence in your products and services. Consumers will see that an independent party has inspected your offering and given a seal of approval to show it meets the necessary quality standards. From this they’re likely to gain assuredness that they’re investing in a premium product. Once you’ve achieved certification and communicated this in your marketing, you will begin to reap the benefits.
This is an important factor for us here at Bradbury Group, as we aspire to be the most trusted steel door manufacturer on the market. Therefore, we take getting our products independently certified very seriously so that our customers can have complete confidence when they invest.
Immediate acceptance for new products.
Attaining third-party certification can also help to ease a new product into a marketplace. This is because consumers, retailers, and distributors usually recognise the credibility that this type of testing carries, so they’re much more receptive and willing to invest in your brand, even though they may not be familiar with your other products.
Helps you stand out from other brands.
When the market is crowded with offerings from different companies, it can be difficult to set your product apart unless you can offer something that they can’t. By making sure that your product has undergone the most thorough examination possible through third-party certification, you can show that you’re serious about delivering a quality item and aren’t afraid to put it to the test.
This is very much the case with products from Bradbury Group, as we’re very happy for our products to be tested to the highest standard. This, along with our investment in our manufacturing process and research and development, helps us to stand out as a leader in the industry.
Here at Bradbury Group, we have extensive knowledge of meeting the standards required by both the safety and security industries. Many of our steel, certified, and communal doors, as well as our grilles and cages, have third-party accreditation by a selection of respected certification boards.
You can take a look at our quality standards and product certifications to find out more about the range of industry standards our high-quality doors are able to meet. If you have any questions about third-party testing and certification, feel free to get in touch with us.