Common Certifications and Standards for Industrial Automation
Learn about some of the most common industrial certifications and standards and how facilities can decide which standard to adopt based on their process.
Many certification bodies provide facilities or personnel with certifications based on industrial standards set by standardization bodies, which we will cover in a later article.
Industries worldwide follow standards and regulatory guidelines to keep business operations safe. These standards are developed by standardization organizations experts in their relevant fields and offer the advantage of the expert’s research, skill, and expertise. These standards are accepted by almost all government and non-government organizations.
An industrial plant shown here commonly uses industrial standards and certifications to operate.
Many standardization bodies have developed standards for every department, such as human safety, product manufacturing, and quality. Adopting a standard is the sole decision of the user organization unless obligated by relevant regulatory bodies. However, some advantages make adopting standards worthwhile.
- Standards can ensure fairness and integrity in the organization’s process.
- Standards may help the organization in entering new markets.
- Standards guide and help the organization in problems or difficulties for their relevant field or departments.
- Adherence to internationally accepted standards builds customer trust and helps in increasing the organization’s footprint and worth.
Industrial Certifications and Standards
There are many standardization bodies involved in developing standards for different industries and their processes. It is the responsibility of the relevant standardization body to build and maintain its expertise and resources, qualifying them for developing standards.
Some standardization bodies develop standards for a whole industry, while others focus on individual components or departments. It is common for a single organization to have standards from more than one body for a different department, depending on its requirements, process, and applications.
Two of the biggest industrial certification bodies include UL and CSA.
Underwriter Laboratories (UL)
Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is a U.S.-based, third-party certification body that certifies the most common operations and departments. For example, it includes the facility, personnel, process, and product of an industry.
A UL-certified machine. Image used courtesy of Siemens AG
UL follows accepted and renowned bodies’ standards, such as a quality management system (QMS) and current good manufacturing practice (cGMP). It evaluates whether the organization is short of these standards. It also helps identify gaps concerning these standards and provides ways to close these gaps.
UL Facility Certification
In facility certification, UL evaluates all operations carried out in a facility with the major healthcare standards. Major areas include data centers, healthcare device facilities, protecting buildings from lightning strikes, and large battery repurposing facilities.
UL also certifies the organization according to UL 880, Sustainable Company Certification. The certification focuses on the organization’s different stakeholders, such as environment, workplace, customer and suppliers, and social and community engagement.
During process certification, UL evaluates all processes from supply chain to manufacturing and improves different management systems in an organization. Common certifications include cable specification for the organization’s electrical and utility requirements, medium voltage cable inspection, and testing and certification services.
There are many standards that support electrical and utility requirements for different equipment, such as the terminal shown here.
It provides information security certification against cybercrime following IEC/ISO 27001 standard and facilitates the user in certifying suppliers by auditing them and their services certification.
For personal certification, UL evaluates individual workers in an organization for functional safety. It certifies the individual’s ability to respond to a dangerous condition efficiently to prevent and mitigate the hazard in industries such as automotive, industrial automation, and cybersecurity. It also evaluates and certifies hazardous areas, explosive environments, and lightning protection for human workplace safety.
UL inspects different products such as analytical chemistry medical devices, audio/visual products, and automotive materials. It follows the respective standards before entering the market for customer use and delivering different safety standards.
CSA Group, formerly Canadian Standards Association (CSA), is responsible for testing and certification in the Canadian market. Without acquiring its certification and approval, the manufacturers cannot enter their products into the Canadian market. It develops its standards and does not rely on other bodies' standards.
Some products in the CSA domain include household and industrial appliances, HVAC, construction and building products (including wiring, power generation such as inverters, energy storage), industrial and hazardous equipment, information technology, lighting, medical and laboratory equipment, PPE, and power tools.
The operation of CSA is divided into two divisions: standards and testing.
The standards division of CSA researches and develops standards for public and private sectors. It provides education and training for their standards.
It is accredited by world-trusted bodies such as the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It has a working relationship with other standardization bodies, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
The CSA testing division conducts tests and provides certification for manufacturers around the world. It ensures that the products manufactured are following the highest standards. Additionally, CSA utilizes a global network of testing labs to test different manufacturers in their regions.
It's important to have reliable, certified products when working in hazardous industries such as the one shown above.
Products and applications certified by authentic certification bodies help establish credibility with trust and safety. These certifications are usually the initial requirements for any product to enter into their respective sector.
UL and CSA are well-known bodies that mandate and certify products worldwide, including the U.S. and Canada. Their knowledge and resources have made them an authentic certifier in their regions. When looking for certified products, pay specific attention to their markings that show the certification status.
ISO and ISA are two of the most well-known standardization bodies as well. ISO develops standards for different industries and departments. ISA develops standards solely for the electronic and electrical automation industry. Their accreditation can increase safety and authenticity.
Standards provide industries with many ways to execute their operations with a high degree of productivity and safety. The standards provide the opportunity for the industry to benefit from the experience, knowledge, and skill of the standardization body, and other industries worldwide.