By Tom Walker / UL Business Development Manager – Appliances

Commercial food equipment manufacturers design equipment for the needs of the restaurant industry working with a collection of kitchen designers, code authorities, and 3rd party certifiers. UL, as the premier 3rd party certifier, creates custom testing and certification solutions that are tailored to meet the unique needs of the commercial food equipment development cycle and timeline. UL’s goal is to help manufacturers streamline product development cycles by getting products tested or certified for reliability, safety, energy efficiency, and performance protocols while mitigating risk.

UL understands that there are few things more frustrating, costly and time consuming than finding out just prior to production launch that a test, construction or unique component that was difficult to find has a non-compliance. UL helps manufacturers mitigate the need to redesign, retool, or resource components because of last minute non-compliance issues.

Designing for compliance throughout a product’s development cycle mitigates surprises, giving manufacturers peace of mind at the concept/ideation, alpha/beta, field testing, pre-production and final production phases. At each phase, UL is able to provide guidance, expertise, and tangible deliverables in the form of either a pre-qualified design plan or various UL Marks depending on a client’s needs. Each phase can be delivered independently with the most benefit starting at the concept/ideation phase and then building on each phase through the product development cycle.

Concept/Ideation Phase

Designing for Compliance early in the concept or ideation phase engages UL to Pre-Qualify the design. UL’s experts work with a manufacturer’s team to perform the following:

  • Risk-assessment
  • Construction review to UL, NSF, IEC or other relevant standards/requirements
  • Development of a test plan to the relevant standard/requirements

A typical Pre-Qualify Design review can be completed in 2 weeks or less along with a detailed Construction, Component, and Test Plan that can be leveraged toward a product’s future UL Certifications. During the Pre-Qualification Design review a prototype is optional, but not necessary as UL is able to conduct assessments based schematics, diagrams, and bills of material.

Alpha, Beta, Field Testing Phases

Designing for compliance in the alpha, beta or field Testing phases engages UL to Qualify Designs as it progresses through its natural product development cycle. Products are ready to be installed in restaurants as they go through Alpha or Beta phases to prove out designs and customer specifications. To Qualify Designs and ensure products meet the applicable requirements necessary for code authorities, UL has two unique offerings both placing the UL Evaluated Mark on products in restaurants: Modified Field Evaluation Product (FEP) and FEP.

When the specific restaurant and installation site are known prior to shipment, UL is able to conduct evaluations to all relevant requirements of the applicable standard(s) less any potentially destructive testing with our Modified FEP program. This program eliminates the need for evaluation at the installation site for equipment where installation factors are well established. The UL Evaluated Mark is labeled at the equipment manufacturer’s location after the evaluation is completed. Each UL Evaluated Mark is labeled and numbered for each specific unit intended to be installed, and there are no surveillance visits or follow-up fees. A typical Modified FEP evaluation can be completed within 1-2 business days and results in the UL Evaluated Mark.

When equipment is already installed, UL is able to conduct an on-site evaluation in close partnership with code authorities with our FEP. This program permits judgments based on installation factors that are otherwise unknown and results in the issuance and labeling of the UL Evaluated Mark at the installation site. The FEP program is a reactive examination without any potentially destructive testing for evaluating products that are already in the field to satisfy code authorities. Each UL Evaluated Mark is labeled and numbered for each specific unit intended to be installed, and there are no surveillance visits or follow-up fees. A typical FEP evaluation can be completed within 1-2 business days resulting in the UL Evaluated Mark.

Pre-Production Phase

When the specific restaurant and installation site is not known prior to a limited production shipment, UL is able to conduct evaluations to all relevant requirements of the applicable standard(s) with our Limited Production Listing program. This program eliminates the need for evaluation at the installation site for equipment where there are limited production runs where UL Listing is required. This option is ideal prior to a full scale production launch or a model that was intended for limited production.  Similar to the traditional UL Listing, equipment is fully evaluated to the relevant standards that may include destructive testing, but there are no surveillance visits or follow-up fees. A typical Limited Product Listing evaluation can be completed within 4 weeks resulting in UL Listing.

Production Phase

When a product (or a closely related derivative) that is Listed with an NRTL other than UL and the UL Mark is desired, UL is able to convert an existing NRTL Listing to a UL Listing with our Listing Via Conversion program. UL acceptance of previously established compliance with relevant standard(s) by NRTLs other than UL allows UL the ability to convert specific models, entire families of models, and an entire portfolio of a manufacturer’s entire product line to UL Listing. A full test report (including descriptive report and test details) is required in advance in most cases. Duplicate testing of tests that were already conducted by an existing NRTL is not required. Significant volume discounts are available for conversion of entire product lines resulting in authorization to apply the UL Mark. A typical Listing Via Conversion can be completed within 2 weeks from receipt of the complete NRTL test report.

When a product is ready for full scale product launch, designing for compliance throughout the product development cycle delivers the unmatched benefits of partnering with UL.  Starting from the concept/ideation phase UL Pre-Qualifies the design with a construction, component and test plan to help mitigate surprises during production launch. UL also partners with manufacturers modifying the plan throughout the design cycle as the design specifications are changed and finalized. In the alpha, beta, and field testing phases, UL evaluates and tested products and is involved with any further changes or modifications to the design. In the pre-production phase, any relevant testing that may not have been applicable during the previous stages is conducted on the current design. During the production phase, the traditional UL Listing is conducted as the most comprehensive solution. The UL Listing in designing for compliance can build on any other phase for the same or similar equipment. UL will utilize the test data already conducted to establish the certification decisions resulting in a UL Mark for Safety, Sanitation (to ANSI/NSF Standards), and Energy Efficiency per the applicable requirements. Designing for Compliance mitigates surprises and give peace of mind for all testing and certification needs.