Safety Concerns Regarding Electronics & IT Products – How Far Are We ?

Dr. Bharat Kumar Yadav has more than 21 years of experience in standards. Presently he is working on safety standards in electronics & IT including matters related to “Electronics and IT Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012 (CRO)” at Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

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Standards

Basically, standards set out specific characteristics of a product — such as its size, shape, design, functions, and performance, or the way it is labeled or packaged before it is put on sale. In short, if a product is conforming to a relevant standard, it implies that major and essential parameters of safety, quality and performance are taken care before launching it into the market.

Sources of standards

According to a general statement on Internet, it is like a symphony and it takes a lot of people working together to develop a standard. The experts from a technical committee that is responsible for a specific subject area. They begin the process with the development of a draft that meets a specific market need. It is a continuous process and dedicated organizations like ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission),  IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) etc. are playing a key role in this arena. Standards are everywhere and playing an important role in our life, by facilitating business interaction, creating eco-system for safe and quality products. According to IEC, “International Standards reflect agreements on the technical description of the characteristics to be fulfilled by the product, system, service or object in question.

Almost every country has its own dedicated department/institution/organization to develop or harmonize their standards with the international players, IEC, ISO, IEEE etc. for every demanding product/process/field. For ready reference, Fig. 1, illustrates the list of few most influential and well-known government/non-government organization in the world.

Fig. 1: Most influential standard bodies in the world

Historically, the journey was started in 1865 when the first standard body, ITU was formally embellished in the field of telecommunication. Consequently, the list keeps on increasing with the potential demand and awareness in the global society regarding standardization. Meanwhile, India has also emerged in the world of standardization and ISI (Indian Standards Institution) was formally established in 1947. Now, Indian standards are maintained by BIS which was established in 1986.

Symbols of conformity

To get the standard mark, a manufacturer/importer has to follow conformity assessment procedure of the country where he wants to sell/import the products. The conformity of a product is assessed by the authorized national/international bodies before it is placed on the market. It needs to demonstrate that all legislative requirements are met. It includes testing, inspection, and certification. The procedure for each product is specified in the applicable product legislation. In other words, these standard marks/symbols indicate specific administrative/regulatory measures taken by a particular country/group of counties to ensure quality and safety of the products which are being imported/soled in their territory or even across the globe. Fig. 2 depicts different popular standard marks (specifically for electronics & IT products) issued from different countries/international regulators/standard bodies.

Fig. 2: Different international markings for safety

Let us take an example; Fig. 3, illustrates a rear view of two popular electronic gadgets, mobile, and laptop. In Fig 3(a), one may observe some typical marking on a bottom part of the mobile handset. A cropped part of the marking is also shown in an inset to elaborate the specifications. This is a BIS standard mark for mandatory safety standards and is issued for notified electronics & IT products under Compulsory Registration Order, 2012.

Fig. 3(a): Popular national/international markings on electronic gadgets – BIS mark on Smartphone

On the other hand, Fig. 3(b) depicts some of popular international standard marks/logos on a laptop. More information about these markings is given in the next sections.

Fig. 3(b): Popular national/international markings on electronic gadgets – International markings on Laptop

 

BIS Standard mark

In the era of globalization, to address the safety concerns of Indian consumers and to curb the inflow of sub-standard electronic products in the country, the “Electronics and Information Technology Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012 (CRO)” was notified by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on 03rd Oct. 2012 under the provision of Compulsory Registration Scheme (CRS) of BIS Act, 1986. This Order had come into effect from 03rd July 2013. The Order necessitates the creation of an institutional mechanism for developing and mandating standards and certification for electronic products to strengthen Quality Assessment infrastructure nationwide. Products in CRO are being notified in a phased manner. Initially, 15 electronic product categories were covered in CRO phase-I. Subsequently, vide gazette notification dated 13th November 2014, another 15 product categories were included in CRO Phase-II.  Likewise, CRO Phase-III has also come into effect from May 23rd, 2018 where 13 more product categories have been covered in the scope of CRO.

As per the CRS, the manufacturer who is seeking registration of goods has to get tested his products at BIS recognized labs and need to apply for registration along with the test report and required documents. Once his registration is granted under CRS, BIS issues a unique registration number (R.No.). Thereafter, the manufacturer can affix BIS standard mark on his products. An example is shown in Fig 3(a) where “R-xxxxxxxx” indicates the R. No. and “IS 13252 (Part 1)” reveals a specific “Indian Standard” for which the product is conforming to.  The list of all notified products and related other scheme details can be explored at MeitY’s website and BIS website.

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