Manufacturers who have not yet started or completed the UKCA certification process are warned that the 1 January 2023 deadline risks providing a ‘false sense of comfort’ given the time required to successfully conclude the process.
Following the UK officially leaving the EU in December 2020, UKCA certification became mandatory for all new construction products placed on the market in Great Britain as of 1 January 2021, and will be mandatory for all applicable construction products placed on the GB market as of 1 January 2023.
It covers all products that fall within the scope of the UK Construction Products Regulation and Designated Standards, and directly replaces CE certification for products placed on the GB market.
UKCA certification can only be issued by an approved body listed on the UK government’s database. As there are only a small number of approved bodies, manufacturers who have not yet started or completed the process may find themselves in a ‘race for space’, according to one of the UK’s leading testing, inspection and certification providers.
‘Although a large number of manufacturers have successfully achieved UKCA certification, a sizeable number have not,’ said Niresh Somlie, Principal Technical Officer at BM TRADA.
The UKCA certification process is very dependent on the assessment and verification of constancy of performance (AVCP) level of the product. AVCP information can be found in Annex ZA of the designated standard. For example, products that fall under AVCP Level 1+ and 1 require involvement of the approved body in sampling and initial type testing (ITT) of the product at an approved laboratory.
Mr Somlie said: ‘Lead times for sampling and laboratory availability are currently long and are likely to be even longer towards the end of this year. Therefore, the longer the delay in getting the process started, the more likely manufacturers are to be caught up in a race for sampling and test space availability.
‘In addition to sampling and testing requirements, products that fall under AVCP Level 1+, 1 and 2+ require a factory production control (FPC) audit. The UKCA certificate can only be issued once the audit of the factory is successfully completed. Once again, audit lead times are currently long and if the certification process is not started now, it is likely that the factory audit will not be completed in time for 1 January 2023.’
Mr Somlie concludes: ‘Ultimately, while the deadline for achieving certification is 1 January 2023, it could provide a false sense of comfort for manufacturers thinking that they have enough time until the end of the year to get sorted. Leaving any applications until later in the year could result in the certificate not being issued in time. If the product is not UKCA certified on 1 January 2023, it cannot be placed on the GB market. This will have severe implications on business operations and trading capabilities.
‘My best advice to any manufacturer who has yet to start the UKCA certification process would be to act now to ensure a smooth certification process in time for 1 January 2023. This will also keep any disruption to an absolute minimum.’
BM TRADA, Element and Warringtonfire are holding a joint webinar on 24 March focusing on UKCA certification and its associated requirements, with a panel of engaged experts on hand to answer any questions.