Certificates of Conformity (COFC) are an important part of the trust relationship between manufacturer and client. Completing your part inspection process efficiently means COFCs can be issued promptly, and costly bottlenecks avoided. With the right infrastructure in place – and third-party support if necessary – Certificates of Conformity can usually be generated quickly and with minimal expense.
This article is an introduction to what Certificates of Conformity are in manufacturing, when you might need one and how they are beneficial.
What Is A Certificate Of Conformity (COFC)?
A COFC is a document that demonstrates type approval, an award that certifies that a product complies with minimum production, technical and safety standards. These standards will vary depending on what the product is and where it will be sold, as different industries and countries impose different standards. A certificate states that a product meets all the requirements required of its type.
A COFC is supplied by a manufacturer to their client to certify that the part supplied conforms to the agreed design. Evidence that this is indeed the case comes from a First Article Inspection (FAI) and report (FAIR) that gives the COFC credibility.
When You Need A COFC
A product will need type approval if you or your customer intend to sell it in a particular market. The idea behind Certificates of Conformity is a good one. They facilitate trade by promoting consumer confidence within industries and markets. They also allow manufacturers and suppliers to speak a common language, by establishing commonly understood production targets and standards. For example, for electronic goods sold within the European Union, certified products carry the CE Mark. You immediately know that a product bearing this mark will have met minimum safety and quality standards, and can legitimately be used and sold within the EU.
The Benefits Of Having A COFC
As a manufacturer, your customers will require a COFC for most items you produce; sometimes more than one if the item is for export to multiple markets (e.g. the USA, Europe and Japan). Often you will not be able to sell a product in a market without a COFC. For example, you need an EU approved COFC to sell vehicles or automotive parts in EU countries.
So the main benefit of a COFC is the ability to get parts to market in a timely manner. Delays in securing type approval can prevent a product being sold and cause lengthy hold-ups that can affect your profitability. Having a Certificate of Conformity can also speed up your inspection process by establishing norms and standards that can be referred to, to improve manufacturing efficiency.
How To Get A COFC
The type approval process and the standards you need to meet vary depending on the industry the parts are for. Different standards apply to electronic components, smart phones, car parts and medical equipment. Design and production standards are specified by different national and transnational notifying agencies.
To complete the process you first need to understand the standards your product needs to meet and then check whether you do comply. This will involve product analysis and a detailed metrology inspection process, which all falls under the FAI umbrella Your product then may need to be tested independently by the notified body. Providing you pass these tests, a technical dossier (the FAIR Report) indicating the product’s measurements and standards will be created, which will allow you to issue the COFC to your customer.
Avoiding Inspection Bottlenecks
The First Article Inspection process for a new product can be lengthy. Underestimating the resources and work involved can lead to frustrating manufacturing delays and inspection bottlenecks while details are resolved. At Status CMM, we offer an outsourced data gathering and inspection solution that ensures your part meets all the required standards. Based on our findings we provide you with a FAIR report that lets you issue the required COFC with confidence. Working with a partner such as Status can save you a lot of time and money compared with carrying out your FAI inspection in house. To find out more about inspection bottlenecks and how they can be avoided, have a look at our new e-book. How to Avoid Inspection Bottlenecks is a free resource that can be downloaded today by clicking here.