Part 3. Testing the testers – Round Robin Product Verification
Part 4. The science behind the certificate – the research behind the criteria
Verifying accuracy of third party testing
As we saw in Part 2 of the Behind TCO Certified series – Product Testing and Verification – third party testing and verification of compliance are cornerstones of quality assurance in TCO Certified. Verification is important not only during the certification process, but also as a continual follow up to make sure that certified products continue to meet the criteria over time. It’s also important to verify the accuracy and consistency of test results from third party testing and verification facilities.
We do this primarily in two ways:
1. ISO accreditation. We require that all facilities testing products for TCO Certified are accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025, the international standard for facilities carrying out testing and calibration. Any test house or verification body working with TCO Certified has been independently verified to comply with this ISO standard.
2. Regular “Round Robin” testing. A technical team from TCO Development visits each of our independent verification partners and supervises testing on selected TCO Certified product samples. The same product sample is used at each test facility so as to measure consistency in outcomes between the various test sites. The team checks for accuracy in how testing is conducted, as well as repeatability in test results between facilities.
Round Robin product testing helps ensure that all our test and verification facilities are producing accurate, repeatable results, regardless of their locationEnsuring this consistency in testing is important for monitoring that certified product models live up to the criteria in TCO Certified as well as buyer expectations for a sustainably designed and manufactured product. Here we will take a closer look at the Round Robin testing process.
We select a sample TCO Certified product. Typically this product sample has some extra design features, therefore challenging the test team in all aspects of the criteria.
Steps 1-5. Product sample is tested and verified in succession at each accredited testing and verification facility (example shown here –facilities A-E)
Step 6. Product sample goes through a repeat-test round at first test site (Facility A)
Following the product test rounds, all test data is analyzed for accuracy and repeatability across all facilities. Each site should produce the same results when working correctly with test measurements and equipment calibration. As a follow up, any necessary corrections or adjustments in test routines are made directly with the relevant facility.
Some common questions about Round Robin testing
Martin Söderberg , Regional Manager, Asia at TCO Development explains more about the Round Robin process:
Testing is overseen by our team, results recorded and the verification partners are advised of any corrections that are needed in measurement methods, equipment calibration or interpretation of the criteria. The same process is carried out at each facility with the same product sample, which allows us to compare results between sites and identify any inconsistencies. A final test round is performed at the same facility that did the first test. That way we can make sure that the performance of the sample has not deviated during the round robin process. The goal is to make sure that, regardless of the location, each test site is producing repeatable, consistent outcomes. The test portion of a round robin takes about two weeks, but the entire process can take up to six months, as we work individually with each lab to implement any necessary updates and changes. It’s of course an important process from a quality standpoint and also helpful for our verification partners.