Why are we telling you this? Well, it seems some people regard this type of approvals process as unnecessary red tape rather than as an opportunity to break into new markets.
What grouches don't appreciate is that UL approval makes the design process easier for them and allows them to sell into North American markets. UL is a popular acronym for the Underwriters Laboratories of North America, which certifies the safety of industrial equipment with respect to electrical, mechanical and operating conditions.
UL approval for North American markets
The use of appropriate UL marking is often essential for equipment destined for use in North America and, as this is a sizeable market, that should not be overlooked. It is important to have a strategy to deal with the approvals process. Much of REO's business is with OEMs and the onus is on us to provide the service levels and options that are required - so that our customers are able to operate in this lucrative market .
REO operates three distinct levels of UL certification that can be applied when manufacturing and supplying products and components in order to satisfy customers' export requirements, either directly into these markets or through OEMs:
1) Manufacture of a product using only UL approved components: By providing a bill of materials and list of corresponding UL file numbers, REO makes it easy for its products to be incorporated into the OEM's own scheme. As most of our products are designed and manufactured in a compliant way, this can usually be done quickly and easily.
This process is especially useful when the complete product, of which REO's contribution is just a constituent component, is going to be presented to an accredited laboratory for UL certification.
2) Manufacture of a product using an approved isolation scheme: This is especially relevant when using chokes and transformers. Using manufacturing schemes, which in themselves are approved by UL, allows REO to manufacture most of its components in a compliant way.
REO has insulation systems suitable for 155 to 180 degrees centigrade, making it suitable for the manufacture of UL certified product. Again this can often be done without paying a premium, but sometimes creepage and clearances are larger than those of standard components and so dimensions of components can change slightly.
3) Full UL certification: This is the ultimate service level and is available on many of our products as standard. It can also be offered as an option on many of our bespoke products and designs.
This usually involves direct liaison between REO and UL, and will often entail supplying many samples together with in depth documentation. The cost of this exercise can often reach tens of thousands of pounds and take months to complete. There is a big engineering burden and this should not be undertaken lightly; it is essential that the market will justify the expense.
So next time one of your colleagues is acting like a grouch and complaining about red tape, just tell them how beneficial and relatively straightforward UL approval can be.
REO can do the grouch a favor by offering the benefit of our considerable experience in the design and manufacture of electronic and inductive components for the North American market. An appropriate strategy for UL certification isn't just red tape, it's a business opportunity.