Don’t just take their word for it – Why installers should ask their suppliers for proof that products pass the test

I’ve been writing this column in Glass News for nearly five years now, and during that time I think I’ve made it quite clear just how committed I am to promoting best practice in hardware design and installation, and particularly how much I believe in robust and transparent third party testing and auditing of products.

I was pleased then to see the editorial and advert from Siegenia which featured in the March issue stressing the need for hardware fitted in the UK to be fully independently tested. Since Mila is Siegenia’s largest UK distributor, it’s particularly heartening to read Adrian Vickers supporting my view that fabricators should be much more proactive in demanding to see proof that the hardware they are buying has passed all of the necessary security and performance accreditations.

It is installers who are ultimately liable of course if a product for which they have claimed compliance with ADQ or BS6375 turns out not to actually have it, and it is certainly their reputations which would suffer alongside any supplier who has given misleading information.

However, it is really not that difficult to carry out all the necessary checks. First and foremost, you should ask to see all of the documentation from your supplier relating to PAS24, BS6375-2 and EN1670 and keep a copy if necessary. If a product has been on the market for a while, then you should also ask about audit testing. This guarantees that a product is tested regularly to ensure that it continues to pass the most up to date version of any standard, and not simply that a sample version of the product passed the relevant test when it was launched.

It’s also obviously essential that any testing has been carried out at a UKAS accredited test centre such as Exova, BSi, Wintech or Mila or at a credible independent institution overseas such as IFT Rosenheim in Germany, which is Europe’s largest test facility.

As I have pointed out previously, it is sometimes possible to cascade test data from suppliers to demonstrate that a window or door meet the requirements of PAS24 for Approved Document Q. However, this is only within the rules if the window or door being installed exactly replicates the one that has been previously tested. This means right down to the screws which are fitted so, if you are thinking of taking this route, you need to have a copy of the full test report and not just the accreditation certificate.

It is also worth checking whether the product has been tested to the maximum performance required – whether that’s the 10,000 cycles required for TBT hardware to pass the performance elements of BS6375-2 or the highest Grade 5 rating achievable within EN1670 which covers corrosion resistance of hardware.

Lots of suppliers, including Mila, will clearly mark their products with the accreditations and test scores achieved to make life easier, but you can always go online to websites like Secured by Design to cross check a product or supplier that says it is registered.

If you want to push things even further, then you can even ask for evidence that the factory where the hardware has been produced has been independently inspected.

Mila, for instance, will shortly be launching a new range of TBT hardware from a factory in Europe. We have ensured that the products being supplied have been fully tested at IFT Rosenheim to all of the required endurance and corrosion standards, have been PAS24 security tested at our UKAS accredited test centre, and the factory producing the hardware also holds IS09001 quality accreditation.

If you have any lingering doubts about the quality and performance of hardware you are buying, then my final piece of advice would be to check the warranty. If a supplier is offering 10 years on a fully tested and accredited product, and has the documentation to prove it, then that should tell you all you need to know about the rigour of the testing that has taken place.

Further details, including all my other recent Tech Talk columns, are at www.mila.co.uk


Does your hardware pass the up to date test?

When a new hardware product is launched, customers have every right to expect that it will have been fully tested to the very latest security and performance standard – that’s standard practice across the industry.

What about a product which has been out in the market for several years though and which was tested to an earlier version of the standard? Is it acceptable for manufacturers to continue to claim compliance for that product when the requirements of the standard have since changed, even if the product is marked and dated?

Although it’s technically within the rules, I would argue that it is misleading customers somewhat. It frustrates me when I see products from some of Mila’s competitors which are being sold with TS007 accreditation, for example, when in reality they have not been accredited to the most up to date 2015 version of the test.

That surely misleads trade buyers and puts them in an impossible position when they are selling on to the retail market and promoting the benefits of the security accreditation to householders.

I think it should be mandatory for hardware manufacturers to not only mark and date every product they sell that they claim a test specification on, but also to provide 3rd party certification to demonstrate ongoing compliance with the standard. Obviously, this has cost implications, not just in terms of the testing but also in any product upgrade required, but when it comes to safety and security, I don’t think there is any room for compromise.

We had an example here at Mila recently which brought home to me once again exactly why it is so necessary. One of the independent test houses contacted me to say that one of our TS007 compliant ProSecure door handles had failed on a door it was testing because the screws had snapped in the boss.

I was immediately concerned because that handle is fully tested and audited but, when I investigated, it emerged that the actual product which had failed was a 2014 version of the product provided by the door supplier, which is no longer available from Mila.

That older ProSecure 240mm handle would have passed the TS007 test as it stood in 2014 but, when the TS007 test changed in 2015, we were alerted to the fact that it no longer satisfied the requirements by one of the 3rd party audit tests we had carried out at BSI for our Kitemark accreditation assessment. As a result, Mila made a significant investment in modifying the handle, changing the boss and ensuring that it could pass the more stringent requirements of the new test with ease.

The version of the handle which has been available since 2015 features our patented FlexSecure® technology. This enables innovative patented ball joints to effectively flex when the backplate is under attack and prevent the fixing screws from shearing or snapping. The FlexSecure® boss is now 16mm (6mm larger than the standard boss), the backplate also features added ribs to increase rigidity and strength, and there is an additional fixing screw.

Whilst the new version is undoubtedly a better product, the fact is that, without our commitment to the regular audit testing, we could in theory still be selling that original version of the handle and claiming two star TS007 compliance. For Mila, that would never be acceptable because it would undermine the credibility of the entire test.

I think if you sell products claiming they reach a standard then you are responsible for ensuring that they continue to meet that standard for the life of the product. However, 3rd party certification currently remains the only way that customers can ensure that their supplier is doing that.

I think of 3rd party certification as being like an MOT – it ensures that a product continually performs as it should and that it is consistently being manufactured correctly. Mila is 100% committed to maintaining the very highest standards and once again, I’d like to see the whole industry putting pressure on companies who still don’t comply.

Just in case you’re wondering, Mila has supplied a brand new set of ProSecure 240mm handles direct to the independent test centre for the retest, and, because of our audit tests, there is no doubt whatsoever that the doors will fly through the TS007 accreditation this time!


Meeting the challenge of Part M

Although Building Regulations are notoriously difficult to read, I think there’s a fairly widespread understanding of Approved Doc M across this industry, and how it applies to the door sector in particular. Essentially, it is all about ensuring that there is an ‘accessible threshold’ installed on the principle entrance doorway and all other external doors, including those to and from a private garden, in a new build property or a building which is undergoing material conversion or alteration.

It’s an integral part of the Lifetime Homes standard, which has the very laudable aim of making all new homes accessible to the disabled and those with restricted mobility. Continue reading…


TS007 – Your Questions Answered by Strafford Cooke

Since the advent of lock snapping and bumping and the introduction of TS007 to address the problem, I probably get more questions about cylinders than I do about any other individual item of hardware. Here’s my quick fire guide to help you out.

What is TS007?
This is a new standard specifically designed to combat the problem with cylinder snapping and lock manipulation in the UK. Endorsed by Secured by Design, the Door and Hardware Federation and the GGF, the latest version is TS007: 2014 + A1: 2015 and its official title is: ‘Enhanced security performance requirements for replacement cylinders and/or associated security hardware’. Continue reading…


Thinking outside the box on Approved Document Q

I would hope that the whole industry knows by now that Approved Document Q (in England and Wales) requires windows and doors fitted in new build developments to have been tested to show compliance with PAS24. As things stand, building control officers can ask the manufacturer to demonstrate compliance and they can use test data which has been cascaded from their systems or hardware supplier.
Continue reading…