Earlier this year we explained that we were waiting for the finalization of the ATEX certification by the Notified Body for one of our products. So we were extremely happy to learn that the certification was granted and that we can now fully focus on production. This ends a development process of a year and a half.
About eighteen months ago, a client came to us to see if we could develop an explosion-safe, lightweight, portable LED light that would last through the day and could be recharged through the night. Believe us when we say that is a challenge but, “rebellious” as we are, we like a good challenge.
An assessment in 40 hours—can it be done?
When a client comes to us with such a challenge, we give ourselves 40 business hours to come to the conclusion as to whether it can be done or not. In those 40 hours we look at the specifications, come up with an initial design and check if it will meet the explosion safety standards set out by the Notified Body. We might not know all the standards by heart—it is a 5,000 page document after all—but thanks to our experience we can determine if it is possible. After those 40 hours, we give clients our assessment: can it be done, and what will the costs be for development and production? It is then up to the client whether to carry on.
In this case, the numbers looked good for the client, so we proceeded to fully design the LED light and build a prototype. This takes several months, because not only do we have to come up with a mechanical design, most of the electronics have to be designed from scratch as well. When we are happy with the workings of a prototype, and when we are convinced it will pass the certification requirements, we send it to the Notified Body.
Now it is out of our hands
After that, the wait begins. To get a certification for a product, the Notified Body requires not only the prototype itself of course, but also a lot of documentation on how parts are working, how electrical systems are secured and so on. Since every new product is tested against standardized guidelines, it can happen that the Notified Body comes back to us for an explanation on certain parts. But other than that, we have no influence on how they judge the application. It is simply out of our hands.
It doesn’t mean we sit idle. When we send the product in, we have a certain degree of confidence that it will pass, thanks to our experience. So in the time while we are waiting for the Notified Body, we are already making preparations for the future production. We line up the necessary production tools and machines.
Yes, this can be a gamble, because it does require investments on our part. But that is why we are entrepreneurs; sometimes you have to take risks. The upside of this is though, that once the certification is in, we can immediately start with production. It is our way of keeping the time to market relatively short. That makes everybody a winner, right?