CE Marking - Cutting Through the Jargon (Part One)
The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) has been designed to ensure the free movement of construction products across European Union countries. Under the regulations manufacturers have their products evaluated against a European Technical Specification (which covers all criteria to make sure that the products are fit for purpose) and if the evaluation process is successful, they can then CE mark their products to demonstrate that the declared product performance has been obtained.
This all sounds quite easy on paper – you just do some tests, an official takes a quick tour of your factory and then you’re able to reach a market of 450 million consumers. In reality, the process is a little more complicated than this and there are several criteria that must be satisfied before CE marking is possible (it’s not always possible) or mandatory (in some cases, the CE mark is mandatory in order to sell the products).
Today we’re taking a look at some of the complicated jargon used in the CE marking process in order to simplify things for our readers.
EUROPEAN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
European Technical Specifications are the “common technical language” of the CPR and the first step on the road to CE marking. These specifications contain all the product characteristics that are necessary to determine whether a product is fit for its intended use. For example, the European Technical Specification for flooring materials includes recommendations for its reaction to fire performance and also contains recommendations for resistance to abrasion, soft and hard body impact and any other necessary flooring characteristics. Some of the product characteristics, such as reaction to fire, are legislated by the Member States of the EU and in these cases, the European Technical Specification must address these characteristics fully.
There are two different types of European Technical Specification:
- European Product Standards (hENs) which are drafted by the European Committee for Standardisation, CEN.
- European Assessment Documents (EADs) which are written by the European Organisation for Testing and Assessment (EOTA).
The European Commission decided some time ago on which type of European Technical Specification should be used on particular products but, unfortunately, there seems to be no logic to this process. For example, doors are covered by hENs while the walls into which they are fitted are covered under an EAD. This system can be confusing to say the least.
WHAT IS IN THE EUROPEAN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION?
Each of the European Technical Specifications dictates the characteristics that a product must satisfy, including the pan-European test methods (such as fire tests) that are used to measure these characteristics. The characteristics are grouped under the Basic Work Requirements, as follows:
- Mechanical resistance and stability
- Safety in case of fire
- Safety in use
- Hygiene, health and environment
- Protection against noise
- Heat retention and energy economy
- Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
- Sustainable use of natural resources
The European Technical Specification also includes a system of Assessment of Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP) which we’ll cover in Part Two next week, along with more useful information on CE marking.