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How the testers see it

How the testers see it

By Rory Macnamara

In the February 2017 issue, we asked the official bodies to provide their input on the testing of standards and the issuing of certificates, which is undergoing a huge change. In this issue, we have a look at companies accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) (refer to block).

Plumbing Africa approached the following three SANAS-approved companies for their input:

  • SABS (South African Bureau of Standards)
  • SATAS (South African Technical Auditing Service)
  • AENOR (Asociación Española de Normalización y Certificación).

The SABS acknowledged receipt of the questions and indicated their intention to respond, but at the time of going to print, no response had been received.

1. Is there an acceptance that the standard term should be SANS (South African National Standard)?

SATAS: SANS is the correct terminology. It used to be SABS standards, which is not the case anymore. The SABS only facilitates the Technical Committees responsible for the content of the standard. The SABS has copyright on all SANS standards.

AENOR: The national standards are the reference in each country and SANS standards should be the reference in this case. Additionally, if these standards are based on international standards or are the result of a direct adoption of its content, they will facilitate the economic development and the free movement of goods in national and international markets. It is very important to remark that the use of references to standards clarifies the demanded requirements in the private and public purchases.

2. If no, please explain?
Not applicable.

3. Leading on from Question 1, can we state that the testing authority will use, for example, SANS 10252 approved with the testing authority’s name?

SATAS: The test facility will issue a report with all the relevant information and references to standards, test methods, and so forth. If not, the report will not be acceptable to the Product Certification Body.

4. Will the certificate carry full details of the standard approved, as well as an explanation as to the scope of the test and the limitations of usage?

SATAS: The certificate as issued by the Product Certification Body will reflect the SANS standard, the title, as well as specific product when relevant.

AENOR: The product certificate understood as the result of the work of the Certification Body, once the product has been assessed, will always refer to the standard used for that matter. It will contain the main characteristics of the product that define the performance of the product and its intended use. Let´s take into account that, usually, the certificate is a document with limited space, so it is very important to take into consideration the certification regulation that the Certification Body has used to certify that specific product. The certification regulation will include the different activities needed for the granting and maintenance of the certification. For example, the standards indicate the requirements that have to be tested but not on which part of the certified range it has to be done and the frequency of those tests, neither the number of product inspections necessary to gain the confidence in the capacity of the manufacturer to maintain the same level of compliance over time.

5. In what areas of testing and certification do you currently operate?

SATAS: SATAS does certification to ISO 17065 mainly in timber products; metal and galvanising; the plastic pipe industry; and road barrier systems. SATAS makes use of independent test facilities to avoid conflict of interest.

AENOR: AENOR works in the certification of all kind of products, including construction and electromechanical products, being leaders in the product certification of plastic piping systems. For plastic products in particular, AENOR has defined 49 schemes for different products and standards, and has issued certificates to 225 factories in 28 different countries for plastic piping systems. All these products are tested in CEIS, our laboratory working on these and other products. Regarding our activity with SANS standards, AENOR is accredited for the following standards: SANS 16422, SANS 15874, SANS 15875, SANS 15876, SANS 15877, SANS 21003, and SANS 22391.


SANAS is the only national body responsible for carrying out accreditations in respect of conformity assessment.


6. How would you describe the test/certification market in South Africa and can we expect more centres to enter the market?

SATAS: At the moment, the certification industry is experiencing problems. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Competition is a good thing and there is room for new test and certification bodies. We at SATAS support SANAS, who is doing excellent work in a sometimes hostile environment.

AENOR: The test/certification market is in evolution. It is a fact that in the frame of construction products, the more developed the societies are the more conscious they are about the quality existing in the market. Product certification is probably the most used tool to demonstrate the compliance of the products with specifications. It is undoubtable that to succeed in the trade, it is necessary to support the product with any kind of certificate, test report, or whatever means able to demonstrate the confidence in the market. In this frame, South Africa is no different, and the industry will demand specialised certification bodies and testing laboratories, which will have to be able to demonstrate their own technical competence and good service. An additional aspect like the possibility of recognition of that certificate or testing report on an international level should be appreciated.

7. Do you operate nationally?

SATAS: SATAS operates nationally and internationally.

AENOR: AENOR operates worldwide. Our headquarters are in Spain, and the fact that AENOR has permanent branches in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Panama, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Portugal, Italy, Morocco, and Poland allows the organisation to transfer its experience in certification and training to other markets, adapting to specific local needs. South Africa is an option to be evaluated. Regarding product certification, more than 100 000 products, produced in factories located in more than 40 countries, are certified by AENOR. AENOR Marks are not only used in products that are going to be sold in Spain, but they also give confidence to costumers in many different countries all over the world.

8. Please confirm whether you are registered by SANAS?

SATAS: SATAS holds SANAS accreditation for standards in the areas as per Question 5 above.

AENOR: AENOR is accredited by ENAC (the Spanish accreditation body) to certify products according to the SANS standards listed in Question 5. As ENAC and SANAS are both members of IAF (International Accreditation Forum), SANAS has issued a Statement of Equivalence in which it recognises that the accreditation granted by ENAC is equivalent to their own accreditation, and that certificates bearing the ENAC symbol are equally reliable to certificates issued by any certification body accredited by SANAS.

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