Change Is in the Wind

Major changes are coming to the regulations guiding the manufacture of Information and communications technology (ICT) and Audio/Visual products, and if your supply chain isn’t ready, it could result in in a very unpleasant surprise. On December 20, 2020, compliance with IEC 62368-1 certification will become mandatory for products under its purview to be sold in the United States, Europe, and many other major markets. But fear not, in this post we will explain what IEC 62368 is, how it’s different from the standards that preceded it, what it requires, and how N2Power can make your company’s transition to compliance silky smooth.
The transition to IEC 62368 and all of its national equivalents marks an important step in harmonizing global manufacturing standards. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is an international organization that issues standards that can be adopted by any individual company or country that wants to. However, a significant number of countries’ own regulatory bodies have adopted the standard as a requirement for all of the products that fall under its purview. In the United States, Underwriters Laboratories’ UL 62368 is the equivalent standard, while Canada has CSA 62368 and the European Union has EN 62368. All of these standards are compatible with one another, and they all go into effect on the same deadline. This is a positive development for manufacturers, since once they are compliant with one standard, they will have access to all of the other markets that require certification based on IEC 62368-1—with no overlap period for competing standards.

The new standard will also have another harmonizing effect on the industry by sensibly bringing two formally distinct product categories under the same banner. Previously, the IEC standards and those derived from them kept A/V equipment and ICT equipment were guided by the IEC 60065 and IEC 60950-1 standards, respectively. However, as technology has progressed, the lines between these two categories have blurred—think smart TVs and cellphones that can both play audio and video as well as access the internet and perform other telecommunications functions—requiring a single standard to cover these chimeric categories. It all sounds pretty good—giving sellers easier access to more markets using a more comprehensive standard—but if you are not ready for the change, you could find yourself suddenly shut out of those same markets.

What’s Different About the New Standard?

The biggest shift from the old standards to the new is one of underlying philosophy. Essentially, the change is from the risk-based approach to safety used by the outgoing standards to a hazard-based approach. In layman’s terms, this means that instead of outlining the risks associated with a particular product or its components and then implementing prescribed safety measures to mitigate those risks, designers look to identify sources of potential hazards to users (both during normal operations and under fail conditions) and then preemptively create safety systems to obviate these dangers. The most significant effect this has on the system is to open it up to the constant rollout of new technology. A hazard-based approach is much nimbler, allowing new products to be evaluated under existing standards without requiring review from a committee. This provides a nice middle ground between safety and agility—keeping the stream of innovation flowing with minimal impediment while remaining committed to user safety.

How N2Power Can Help

So, what do you need to do to get ready for the looming deadline this December? The first thing to consider is if any of your existing products will need to be updated to conform with the new standard. Even if your product was already certified, you made need to make some adjustments to make sure it complies with the new standards. In most cases, this shouldn’t pose a problem, as most items will just need some adjustments to paperwork to pass. However, if there is an issue with the compliance of the PSUs used in your devices, you need to act now to correct this problem before the hard deadline arrives. Luckily, manufacturers may have a small reprieve, as they can continue use inventory certified under the old standards until they run out.

Fortunately, N2Power offers a full suite of power products that can help OEM manufacturers quickly get up to code. All of our standard power supply series are either already compliant with IEC 62368-1 or are pending approval. This includes our series of PSUs that come pre-certified for various fields, including the medical, casino gaming, ITE, and industrial sectors. Our full lineup of power solutions is always built with power efficiency and density in mind from the original design. All of our power supply offerings—from 40 W to 500 W—are available in a multitude of various output ranges to fit every OEM’s power needs. In addition, we will work with customers to make adjustments to standard units to best fulfill their power needs and offer a full selection of mounting options. N2Power’s FREE sample program allows both our current and prospective OEM customers to obtain up to four fully certified UL62368-1 units to use in certifying their own equipment to the same certification standard.

Brave New World

In all, the switch to IEC 62368-1 should be a net positive, allowing the world’s major markets to share a common standard and implementing hazard-based engineering that will help new technology reach customers more easily. That said, being unprepared for the upcoming switch is simply not an option.

If you take a look at UL’s 62368 compliance site, there is a countdown clock on that ominously ticks away the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the December 20th deadline. But the switch doesn’t need to be a cause for anxiety; let that countdown be a reason to celebrate rather than a ticking time bomb.

If you have questions about compliance or are ready to upgrade your non-compliant power supplies, please contact one of our representatives today.