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Homologation Management Services

Homologation Management Services

What is Homologation: 

Homologation is the process of bringing a product into compliance with, and/or certified to guidelines established by a regulating authority, generally at a national level.  Homologation is typically a prerequisite to distributing or delivering products to a country or region.   The term Homologation, which has been used in the automotive industry for some time, can also be applied to regulatory compliance of non-automotive products, components, and systems.  Why add terminology that upper management can abuse in an attempt to appear qualified?  The reason is there is no better way to describe this niche field.  The closest would be “regulatory product compliance” which is simply too long to say on a regular basis and still may not narrow it down enough. 

Challenges with Global Homologation: 

Manufacturers expanding into global markets, particularly developing markets, are faced with a growing number of regulatory requirements of which safety, EMC, wireless, energy, and environmental disciplines are becoming common.  As a result of the increased complexity of global homologation, manufacturers can experience multiple hurdles in attaining and maintaining market access for their products, including: 

  • In-house staff becoming overburdened by extensive and ever-changing requirements; 
  • Excessive certification costs from over-certification of models within the same platform; 
  • Lack of in-house expertise to question legitimacy of certification efforts proposed by inexperienced contract manufacturers or local test laboratories; 
  • Unexpected expiration of certifications causing lapse in market coverage; 
  • Loss of employee who was entrusted with company’s entire homologation knowledge. 

Navigating global certification processes with an expanding number of compliance disciplines has become a full-time job.  Instead of relying on one person within the organization to muddle through this ever-changing maze of compliance, it may make sense to partner with an organization that specializes in product certification services.  

Outsourcing Homologation Management: 

G&M provides a service making use of our technical background, familiarity with global homologation schemes, and experience in working with certification entities.  Our overall knowledge bank coupled with our autonomy from any one certification agency or entity, gives us the ability to serve as an ideal homologation management partner.  As part of an HMS program, G&M will provide a primary contact to serve as your company’s homologation manager.  This person will work as part of your team to manage and streamline compliance related activities.  This person will not only rely on their own knowledge and experience to perform this function but will draw from the collective knowledge of the G&M team.  This service is similar to certification consulting but designed to be integrated into a company for more seamless results.  The following are examples of how an experienced homologation team working as your in-house provider can provide value to your company: 

  • Development of effective certification programs, maximizing models per certification, and reducing overall costs 
  • Management of outside vendors, ensuring their certification efforts are efficient, which improves time to market 
  • Removal of homologation tasks from company staff, allowing them to be more productive  
  • Tracking certifications with G&M CATS system to avoid unexpected expirations, minimizing loss of market access 
  • Having an established company manage homologation improves consistency and reduces the possibility of chaos due to employee turnover. 
  • Assistance in analyzing risk of homologation related business decisions can save both time and money 
  • A homologation management company that retains a significant group of member customers can leverage that volume with certification bodies to achieve volume pricing (similar to insurance company model), which offsets costs of partnering with a management company.  

Outsourcing Vs. Hiring: 

The question for many companies is: Can we continue to treat the impact of growing homologation requirements as an adjunct responsibility given to one or more existing employees?  If not, can we justify or afford a full-time employee?  Before deciding that, are we equipped to identify a competent applicant?  If we answered yes to the last two questions; does it make business sense to hire specialized personnel who do not directly contribute to the core competencies of the organization? 

G&M’s HMS is the perfect solution for product makers who realize treating homologation as an adjunct responsibility is a losing proposition but can’t justify or don’t want to assume the burden of hiring a full-time employee.  See figure below for an illustration of the division of responsibilities made possible by the HMS model: 

 

Graphical Representation of Division of Responsibilities

Key:

  • Homologation Management Activities
  • Certification Related Activities
  • Documentation and Internal Communication

The following are some of the benefits of outsourcing homologation to a management company vs. employing a full-time homologation engineer:

  • Demand for homologation related activities can vary, making it difficult to justify a full-time commitment. Outsourcing homologation management allows for variations in commitment level depending on demand.
  • The hiring/acquisition process for the right compliance engineer can be an arduous one particularly if the first hire is the wrong fit.
  • Due to streamlining of processes, costs associated with a management company can be reduced over time vs fixed cost of an employee.
  • A qualified management company offers a pool of resources under one umbrella as opposed to relying on the “tribal” knowledge of one person.
  • The disruption of losing a homologation employee can be catastrophic but is reduced to a non-factor with a homologation management company in place.
  • Separation of tasks associated with the management company model improves process efficiency.

Project Cost Savings Provided by HMS Model:

To help keep costs low we are able to leverage our overall volume from our HMS customers, and we pass that savings back to them to ensure a win-win relationship.  We provide discount pricing to our HMS customers for homologation services that we offer on a project basis.  See below for an example of some common certification types that are discounted for our HMS members:

Certification Type:

  • CCC – China Safety & EMC
  • SRRC – China Wireless
  • BIS – India Safety
  • WPC – India Wireless
  • EAC – Russia Safety
  • KC – Korea Safety & EMC
  • NOM – Mexico Safety & EMC

Risk Assessment of Homologation Related Business Decisions:

Most business decisions when broken down are comprised of a risk vs. reward analysis.  The reward may be in the form of increased revenues or a reduction in costs, both having the same effect on the bottom line.  In the homologation world, having access to sell products into new markets provides the increase in revenue, however each additional certification required to enter or remain in a market adds significant cost as well.  The trick therefore is to add key products or maintain them in important markets while minimizing certification costs.  As implied above the up-side of minimizing costs may come with some inherent risk.

In some instances, there may be opportunities to reduce cost or even improve time to market that involve little risk but are not widely known.  In other instances, organizations may be engaging in high risk, minimally beneficial practices without realizing it until it’s too late.  Having an effective homologation strategy requires a process to identify beneficial opportunities, and then be able to accurately assess that the risk vs benefit ratio meets an acceptable tolerance.  In order to accurately assess these parameters, assessment must be conducted by one whom has intimate knowledge of a discipline’s technical requirements, overall product knowledge, and familiarity with associated surveillance events.  As your Homologation Management Team, G&M can help with this analysis to keep certification costs low, and market accessibility high.  Please see illustration below for a common HMS risk analysis process:

HMS Risk Analysis Process

Key:

Input – Homologation decision involving risk.  See below for examples:

AHR – Actions overall impact on homologation requirements (technical)

VR – Repercussion of a resulting variance if identified by market officials

LV – Likelihood of a variance occurring (i.e. certification officials identifying discrepancies)

L – Low risk decision

H – High risk decision

Risk Factors:

AHR1 – Action has negligible impact on pass/fail criteria

AHR2 – Action is likely to increase the possibility of a failure in testing or a constructional aspect

VR1 – Repercussion is of minor significance (e.g. must be corrected in allotted time frame)

VR2 – Repercussion is of major significance (e.g. all company certifications are subject to cancelation)

LV1 – Likelihood of variance is low (e.g. difficult to detect, or lack of certification surveillance)

LV2 – Likelihood of variance is high

*Homologation Decision Examples:

  • Should we use a single model designation for a product line having some configuration differences?
  • Should we re-certify a product after a revision?
  • Should we get certification testing done overseas where costs are lower, but quality is questionable?

Allow us to do what we do best so that you can focus on what you do best.  Let’s work together to design a customized solution for your regulatory product compliance / Homologation needs.

Please contact us at 714-628-1020, or [email protected] for more information.