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IEC/EN 62368-1 Implementation

IEC/EN 62368-1 Implementation

Europe’s hard transition date of 12/20/2020 to comply with IEC/EN 62368-1 appears to remain valid even in the midst of the corona virus pandemic, and the remaining time to transition existing products is getting short.  The situation in Europe regarding editions of the new standard and how to transition is a little messy.  Here’s how the timeline looks currently:

EN 62368-1 Timeline

* Mandatory assumes use of the most common path to compliance using harmonized standards

Due to the transition falling into a period of financial stress caused by the pandemic, finding a strategic and cost effective transition route is more important than ever.  The question of how to effectively implement IEC 62368-1 can be a tricky one.  Although technical requirements of the new standard are supposed to be aligned with existing standards, there are some issues to be aware of.  The main factors to consider when implementing a strategy are:

  • Are products in question existing products intended to meet the European deadline of 12/20/2020?
  • Are products in question new products that have a long-projected lifespan?
  • Which edition of the IEC/EN 62368-1 standard should products comply with?
  • Are products going to be sold in various international markets?
  • Is your product designed to comply with IEC 62368-3?

Let’s start by looking at the requirements for transitioning legacy products.

Transition of Legacy Products to IEC 62368-1

Updating a CB scheme certification from an old standard (IEC 60950-1 or IEC 60065-1) to the new standard, as a means to transition can be a costly approach.

In contrast to Europe, existing NRTL certifications for US and Canada do not require transition to the new standard.  Because CB certifications are typically bundled with NRTL certifications for new products, there is often a “two-markets for the price of one” type of cost benefit.  Since, in this case,  there is no need to update NRTL reports, the bundling benefit is lost, and the cost to update just the CB portion can remain quite high.  Additionally, certification bodies that have issued the previous CB certification may not feel a need to reduce pricing as they are in possession of the original test data making the transition with them feel more seamless.

 

A CB certification is only one option available to comply with the CE mark requirements for Europe.  The Low Voltage Directive (LVD) Report route equally satisfies the requirement at a potentially much lower cost.  If compliance with the new European requirements is the main objective, G&M can provide an LVD report using most, if not all of the current test data from your existing CB scheme report.  Please contact us for pricing and more  information regarding this strategy.

IEC/EN 62368-1 Implementation for New Products

The main issue for new products is determining what international markets need to be satisfied, how much value a CB report offers in those markets, and which edition of the new standard will the national standards be based on.

Europe is currently, and for the foreseeable future, only recognizing the 2nd edition of IEC 62368-1.  However, many other important markets, such as China, Taiwan, and Korea are still requiring the old standards (IEC 60950-1 or IEC 60065-1), In order to solve this challenge, some certification bodies are recommending dual CB certifications to both the 2nd ed of the new standard, and the applicable old standard.  Certifying to an additional standard, of course, increases certification costs.  Furthermore, the countries currently requiring old standards are likely to transition directly to the 3rd edition of the new standard, bypassing the 2nd ed altogether.  When a transition directly to 3rd ed happens (probably within the next couple of years), the 2nd ed CB certification reports will offer little value.  This in turn could force an edition upgrade to the already pricey dual CB certification.

In this situation we recommend having a global certification expert look at the international target market requirements.  Depending on these requirements it may or may not make sense to go with a dual certification.  In addition, said expert could potentially provide a certification strategy for directly obtaining a 3rd ed CB scheme while showing backwards compatibility to the 2nd ed for Europe.

IEC 62368-3

IEC 62368-3 is a separate standard from IEC 62368-1.  The requirements of this adjunct standard are in some cases being enforced for CB scheme certifications to the main standard (IEC 62368-1).  In short, the new IEC 62368-3 has very restrictive limits on voltage levels of common I/O interface ports.  These restrictions are forcing re-evaluations of 3rd party vendor components such as power supplies and motherboards, which has proven to be very invasive for the end-system manufacturer.

The interesting thing is this new requirement is currently exempt for NRTL certification and optional in Europe.  It is, however, a requirement for CB scheme certification depending on the certification body.  In this situation we again recommend having an expert review the value provided by a CB Report, the ability to comply with the additional standard, and the policies of the issuing certification body.

Conclusion

Whether you would like to reduce costs of implementing IEC 62368-1, minimize headaches of managing certifications for developing markets, determine what product revisions require re-certification, etc.; the more products and product related certifications that are required, the more important it is to implement cost-effective, time saving, strategies.

For more information on how G&M can provide on-going guidance for certification/homologation, see our Homologation Management Services page.