Does your hardware pass the up to date test?

Techtalk | Straff Cooke, Technical Director, Mila

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!

As always, you can contact me for more information via: scooke@mila.co.uk or via Twitter: @StraffordCooke