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

Techtalk | Straff Cooke, Technical Director, Mila

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

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