To innovate and to develop revolutionary features are becoming a prevalent development strategy for ICT product manufacturers. While stylish appearance, state-of-the-art design as well as user friendly and habit changing functionalities are the current development trend, we must not overlook two critical factors to ensure product success in the market, namely, safety of use and impacts of the product on the environment.
In recent years, safety and environmental protection has become a topic of great concern for consumers which has in turn captured the attention of governments. Many, in particular regions of high economic growth such as India, South Korea and South America, have legislated mandatory regulations for safety and environmental performance of imported products. Taking India as an example, which is one of the BRIC markets and boasts a population of close to 1.2 billion, there is an enormous demand for consumer goods. It is a market vied by electronic product manufacturers around the world.
The Indian government, in order to protect the health and safety of consumers, has proposed to introduce a mandatory registration scheme requiring third-party safety certifications for imported goods involving 13 categories of high tech products including televisions, printers, scanners and microwave ovens, as well as two categories of household electric appliances. The new scheme will take effect on July 3, 2013. Other national mandatory certifications include the KC mark in South Korea, the UL-AR S mark in Argentina and the UL BR INMETRO in Brazil.
From an environmental and sustainability perspective, the concern should not be limited to whether the materials used in a product are harmful to the environment. The release of hazardous substances during the use of a product should not be neglected as well. The multidimensional environmental performance standard - Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) - launched in the United States is a tool to evaluate the impact on the environment throughout the whole life cycle of a certified product such as a television, printer, photocopying machine and imaging equipment. In fact, a number of green certifications pertaining to different professional fields have been developed, such as indoor air quality and IEEE 1680 environmental testing. To pursue a long term future, high tech manufacturers should stay on top of environmental certifications worldwide for the development of appropriate sustainability strategies. The key for a product to stay competitive in future lies in acquiring widely recognized international standards, which will not only win the trusts of consumers but also raise the corporate image.
In view of the rapid development in technology, product safety standards also need to advance and adjust with the times. UL pioneered the development of the world's first safety standard for modular data centers - UL Subject 2755 Outline of investigation (OOI). The subject not only covers the installation of servers in a modular data center, but also addresses to the safety of power distribution, cooling systems and smoke/fire protection systems. The subject is currently going through a number of processes with a view to be developed into an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard and to be included in the relevant IEC Standard. Manufacturers in Taiwan that export chiefly to the US market should pay close attention to the development of the new standard and act accordingly.
The above covers major topics being discussed in the industry including global safety certification for high-tech products, environmental and sustainability verification, and lately certification for Modular Data Centers. At Computex 2013, UL will host free seminars in which subject experts will investigate these topics. For more information, visit www.ul.com/taiwan.