Why is thorough hardware testing a crucial component for product development?

Testing or the lack of it can make or break your business

To enter the market and gain consumer trust, products today have to meet strict international standards. Thus, thorough product testing is a must. But which international standards govern product development and testing, and how do labs help with the conformity assessment process?

While it might be tempting for some companies to save money by launching a product before testing it, an undiscovered error can bear serious consequences and way more costs. Take the example of Gigabyte, a hardware company that recently had to exchange its defective products.

Does heavy testing seem like a waste of time? Not after you hear the story of Taiwanese tech giant Gigabyte, which has recently been forced to replace some of its power supply models from the market.

The scandal was further provoked by Gigabyte’s response: the company released a statement implying that these websites tested their products in an inappropriate manner. The attempt to shift the blame on them has done no favors for the otherwise well-renowned tech giant’s reputation. (Hruska, 2021)

Gigabyte was thus forced to return and exchange the defective products, a move that proved to be a way costly logistical hassle. In addition, many customers might have lost trust in the company due to the bad reviews, and a very unfortunate way to handle public relations crisis.

If the power supply models have been subjected to heavy testing before the market launch, this whole issue could have been prevented. But how to make sure your product goes through appropriate testing in the right hands?

Specialized B2B Marketplaces, such as LabShare, help you navigate the testing market and connect you with accredited testing laboratories from different countries.

Explore a pool of laboratories through our platform to find the best testing requirements according to your needs - one that carries out thorough hardware testing providers to ensure quality and customer satisfaction.

The basics of product conformity: the European legal requirements system

LabShare provides professional guidance for product developers and validation laboratories to understand the product compliance process better. The guidance articles are suggested for anyone who wants to learn more about the conformity assessment process, product compliance, legislative background, professional interpretation, product validation testing, product certification, or needs a professional summary for refreshing the knowledge.

The European legal requirements system

To understand the principles behind conformity certification, we shall review the legislation and standardization system of the EU. The basic understanding of the principles and philosophy of legislation and the application of the law is a prerequisite for understanding such terms as “conformity assessment” and “product safety” as defined by the EU.

The doctrine of the supremacy of EU law ensures that the differences between the legal systems of the individual Member States can be overcome. According to this doctrine, the EU has created a legal system within international law, in favor of which the Member States have given up their sovereign right to a certain extent.

Primary and secondary legislations

The primary sources of law are the founding treaties and their amendments. These are international treaties that can also be considered sources of EU law. The foundational document of the EU is the Treaty of Rome, which sets out, among other things, one of the key principles of European integration: the free movement of goods.

The founding Treaty provides a framework for the legislative and regulatory activities of the Member States. The competent authorities of the EU, acting within the powers vested in them by the Treaty, draw up and adopt secondary legal instruments to regulate their activities.

Such instruments are called secondary since they aim to ensure the attainment of the objectives laid down in the founding Treaty. The European Council can adopt secondary legal instruments, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

There are three types of secondary law:
• Regulation
• Directive
• Decision

Regulations are of general application, binding in their entirety, and are directly applicable in every Member State; there is no need to adopt them as national laws.

Regulations are passed by the Council individually or in a decision-making procedure involving both the European Parliament and the Council. They contain basic and significant regulatory norms. Based on the mandate given in a Regulation, modifications or details of the Regulation and implementing regulations can be passed by the Commission.

Directives are obligatory as a result to be achieved; they are implemented in the form of national legislative acts by all the Member States to whom they are addressed. However, the national legislators of a given country are free to choose the form and method of implementation and how they wish to transpose them into national law.

National legislators must transpose the content of the directives into their respective national legislation within a determined period. The deadline for a directive to be implemented and put into effect is generally set out in a decision connected to the directive. Directives can be adopted by the Council individually or in a decision-making procedure involving both the European Parliament and the Council. In addition, the Commission may issue implementing directives.

Decisions are binding their entirety to whom they are addressed; they do not need to be transposed into national law. This wording implies that considering its original function, a decision is an appropriate instrument for individual acts that are administrative in nature.

This form of legislation is mainly chosen in cases where norms adopted by the Council or in a procedure involving both the Council and the European Parliament are implemented by the Commission. Still, certain implementing decisions are passed by the Council.

LabShare focuses on medical devices, electronics, mobility, and electric vehicle battery testing.

Here are some directives where the applicable testing methods such as environmental tests (eg.: IEC 60068-2-11, ISO 9227, etc.), EMC tests (eg.: EN/IEC 60601-1-2, EN/IEC 61000-4, etc.), battery test (eg.: UN 38.3, IEC 62133, IEC 62619) can be booked through LabShare:
93/42/EEC Medical devices
98/79/EC In vitro diagnostic medical devices
2014/30/EU Electromagnetic compatibility
2014/53/EU Radio equipment
Regulation (EU) 2019/945 on unmanned aircraft systems and on third-country
operators of unmanned aircraft systems
Regulation (EU) 2017/745 on medical devices
Regulation (EU) 2017/746 on in vitro diagnostic medical devices

Multiple lab involvement in a conformity assessment process

How are new products tested before they are introduced to the European market, and what roles do laboratories play in their assessment? This was the main topic that Gábor Tasnádi, the managing director of CerTrust covered in his presentation titled “Multiple laboratory involvement in the conformity assessment process”.

Tasnádi started by explaining that before goods can enter the market of the European Union, they must fulfill the Essential Safety Requirements (ESR). This harmonized legislation sets out the requirements for products.

To obtain the CE mark for health, safety and environmental conformity, goods are subjected to a markedly thorough conformity assessment process, in which a so-called notified body must be involved. CerTrust itself is a notified body for the directives and regulations on pyrotechnic articles, explosives for civil use, gas appliances, machinery, electromagnetic compatibility and radio equipment.

“At the end of the conformity assessment, they issue a certificate, which is a passport for the European market” - Tasnádi explained. At this stage, the notified body issues a certificate based on the test report and the assessment report.

Drones are a good example of a complex assessment process, since in their case there are numerous European legislations to comply with, from those that apply to unmanned aerial systems to specific parameters regarding EMC testing for the radio equipment.

Notified bodies shall involve laboratories locally for accreditation and to provide testing when requested by the authorities or by the applicants in Europe. However, if the manufacturer is located outside of Europe, it is preferred to carry out the tests locally, near the location of the manufacturer.

“To sustain such a complex laboratory network for the notified bodies is usually economically unviable. Therefore, the solution is sharing the capacity of existing specified laboratories. In the future, this will be more and more the case, as technologies will be more complex and for the products there will be many European legislations to comply with” - Tasnádi concluded.

How could testing via LabShare make a difference for startups? A case study of the Skart e-motorbike

Having the right tests completed and the right certifications issued can seriously make or break your business. Here, we present the case of Hungarian e-motorbike producer Skart, a company for which the help of LabShare could be key to acknowledgement and success.

The concept of Skart was developed in 2016, when founder Balazs Frohlich came up with the idea to design and produce unique eBikes. Combining design and function, these bikes are made of custom-made parts and some rare materials such as wood or composite concrete.

“Our goal is to design motorbikes that actually look like e-vehicles, and this is represented both by the design and the choice of materials. Instead of revamping the current design, we aim to build something entirely novel and original” - says Balazs, whose eBikes are still not allowed to hit the road, because their prototype is not yet validated.

Skart, however, has not gone unnoticed by investors: they participated in a number of exhibitions, won a well-renowned prize at the MVM Edison start-up competition, and were repeatedly invited to the Hungarian version of the Shark Tank TV-show.

“They contacted me every season, and last year, I eventually decided to try my luck. We were chosen to be featured on the program after a multiple round selection process, so I definitely expected the “sharks” to be a little more supportive” - the young entrepreneur recalls.

In spite of inviting Balazs on the show to represent Skart, the jury criticized his product for not being certified - a procedure that the designer could have only afforded if he already had at least 15 pre-buyers for his eBike.

“In America, this process could have been completed within a week. It’s only in Europe that they make our lives difficult with all these regulations”, Balazs adds. But since he lacks both the knowledge and the funds to arrange the necessary tests, Skart’s e-bikes have yet to hit the market.

How could LabShare help companies like Skart?

LabShare’s one-stop-shop solution is ideal for startups like Skart, who need to outsource certain tests in order to validate a prototype.

“There are plenty of hardware developer startups with lucrative ideas who are simply not well-versed regarding TIC segment connections in the testing industry. Understandably, it’s not their field of expertise. In such cases, LabShare can help to define the exact tests required, advising on the cheapest and most efficient options, and overseeing the entire process”, says David Gyenes, LabShare’s business development manager.

In Skart’s case, compulsory tests include EMC as well as the tests of protection relay, brakes, and maneuverability. The majority of these procedures are not tied to a specific location, and there is a wide range of testing facilities available to choose from based on individual preferences in distance, price and equipment.

“LabShare can help Balazs break down the entire testing, inspection and certification process into smaller units. This way, the validation process requires less of a one-time investment and becomes more affordable to him”, Gyenes adds.

Currently, Balazs is in talks with LabShare regarding the tests, and once they are completed, he may well be on the path to see his self-designed eBikes hit the road.

“Had I already completed the tests by the time Skart was featured on Shark Tank, I would have given way less ammunition for the judges and could have come across more convincingly to investors”, he concludes.