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The association of product certification bodies in Europe active in the construction sector

Voluntary Product Certification (VPC) and CE marking

Voluntary Product Certification (VPC) and CE marking

Voluntary Product Certifcation (VPC) and CE marking

CE-marking is a basic requirement for products at a European level. This label is a manufacturers declaration of conformity. In most cases the manufacturer determines for what characteristics he wishes to declare a value. This is totally incomparable with the local Voluntary Product Certification mark! This VPC mark is the expression of the quality declaration issued by an independent and accredited third party.

With CE marking a manufacturer is able to declare a limited number of characteristics. Characteristics that are compulsory in at least one Member State. In this declaration, in a standardized format, the manufacturer chooses which characteristic he wants to declare a value. He also chooses which level of performance or class the product meets including the variation of these values. In the European regulations it is not required in most cases of European standards to meet a certain level or class, to meet a threshold level or to have a restricted variation. This is different in VPC. VPC often has specific rules, threshold levels or classes, limited variation as is required and applied by (local) building practices. So the certificates granted by an independent Certification Body provides not only confidence in the quality of the product, but it also ensures the fitness for the end-use situation as practiced in the local building environment.


VPC definition of the process

VPC is conformity assessment carried out by a third party according a product certification system with product specific requirements determined by all parties concerned. Types of product certification systems are documented in ISO/IEC guide 67. All Eurocer-Building (EB) members follow the product certification system No. 5, as described in table 1 of ISO/IEC Guide 67 Conformity assessment - Fundamentals of product certification. Elements of this system 5 are:

  1. Selection (sampling), as applicable
  2. Determination of characteristics, as applicable, by:
    a. testing (EN ISO/IEC 17025)
    b. inspection (EN ISO/IEC 17020)
    c. design appraisal
    d. assessment of services
  3. Review (evaluation)
  4. Decision on certification
    Granting, maintaining, extending, suspending, withdrawing certification
  5. Licensing (attestation)
    Granting, maintaining, extending, suspending, withdrawing the right to use the certificates or marks
  6. Surveillance, as applicable by:
    a. testing or inspection of samples from the open market
    b. testing or inspection of samples from the factory
    c. quality system audits combined with random tests and/or inspections
    d. assessment of the production process or service

Kinds of certificates

Product certification concerns on the one hand the certification of products and on the other hand the certification of processes and services (installation businesses, design process of architects, etc).
When determining the characteristics for product certification, members make use of technical specifications, among them EN standards. The collective of EB members are responsible for a correct application of at least 1000 EN standards in the construction sector of Europe. Building products certified voluntary, deem to satisfy for use in buildings (roofs, walls, floors, foundations, etc) or in civil works (bridges, roads, guard-rail, etc).

Use of certificates by designers, contractors and in building inspections

Product certificates provide for designers and prescribers reliable and attested information in three phases:

  1. in the design phase, product certificates give certainty;
  2. in the contractual phase, product certificates give designers flexibility; they allow honest comparison of the quality of products;
  3. in the control phase of the work, product certificates ease the work to check the conformity of the supplies or the completed work when the designer must evaluate alternatives proposed by the companies or imposed by the modifications in the course of the building process.

The basis for Voluntary product certification is specified requirements for a certain product family. They are designed with input of all parties involved in the benefits of a product certification scheme by a group of experts and are made available in writing so that they can be examined. The functioning product certification scheme is recognised by all organizations that rely on the certificate.