BSI Hardware Schemes Under the Spotlight

You’ve probably already seen the press coverage on the two new schemes being launched by BSI relating to hardware. The first is an installer verification scheme for Approved Document Q in the new build and change of use sector, and the second is a Kitemark for building hardware used in windows and doorsets.

I’ve had a close look at both – and, as someone who is immersed in hardware quality and standards, here’s my take on them.

To me, the installer verification scheme looks like a really good idea. Essentially, it gives installers the ability to have a certificate in their own name which shows that the products they are installing have achieved the PAS24 accreditation required for Approved Document Q.

For any installer dealing with building control, contractors, developers or the NHBC, this should mean that they can radically simplify and speed up the necessary process of demonstrating ADQ compliance.

As I understand it, in order to join the scheme, installers will need to show evidence to BSI that the windows and doors they are installing have been PAS24 tested, provide a comprehensive component list, assembly drawings and a declaration of accuracy. This will then generate their own verification certificate which is valid for 12 months at a time.

Compared with the current standard process of relying on cascaded data from suppliers on every relevant ADQ project, which inevitably doesn’t include the installer’s own company name, this has the potential to be a much simpler way and more efficient route.

BSI hasn’t yet published the costs involved, but if they can keep them down to a reasonable level, then I think this scheme could really take off.

In fact, I’d probably like to see it extended to smaller fabricators as well who often rely on cascaded data themselves because they can’t justify the cost of getting individual products accredited in their own name. Certainly, I know of several Mila customers who use cascaded data from both Mila and their systems companies to demonstrate ADQ compliance and miss out on the benefits of having their own certificate to pass on to installers in the first place.

By contrast, at first glance, I can’t see anything like the same potential benefits in the Kitemark for building hardware. As I understand it, this new Kitemark will demonstrate that a hardware supplier’s products have been corrosion tested to BSEN 1670: 2007, performance tested to BS6375 parts 1,2 and 3 and that the supplier has an ISO9001 quality management system in place.

As far as I am concerned, hardware suppliers like Mila whose priority is quality will have ISO9001 and will already be testing to these standards, which surely makes the new Kitemark pretty superfluous. Certainly, Mila’s Test Centre has long been UKAS accredited to test for PAS24, which requires compliance with BS6375, and also to BSEN1670.

Apart from the marketing benefits of another Kitemark then, I can see limited incentive for suppliers to apply who already have all the individual approvals anyway.

Obviously, there may be some suppliers in the market who aren’t in the same position as Mila when it comes to in-house testing facilities but I think they would still need to carry out the individual rounds of testing to the various standards before they could apply for the Kitemark so that cost/benefit analysis would be largely the same.

There is also the secondary issue of course that BS6375 parts 1,2 and 3 relate to the performance of a finished window or doorset and not an individual piece of hardware so it’s not clear to me how a Kitemark can be issued when, unlike the corrosion test, it does not apply directly to hardware.

I remain to be convinced by BSI of the benefits but, at this stage, I’m very much taking a watching brief.