While the political storm known as Brexit is still swirling, one thing is certain: for FM Approvals' customers, it's business as usual, thanks to the recent recognition of FM Approvals Europe Ltd. as a European Union Notified Body (EU NB) based in Dublin, Ireland (NB #2809).
Proactive approach pays off
For the past 12 years, FM Approvals has built a strong presence in the EU by way of FM Approvals Ltd. based in Windsor, England. As an EU NB, FM Approvals Ltd. has provided bundled certification services to FM Approvals customers who also wished to attain certification to certain EU harmonized standards, known as European Norms (ENs), such as the requirements for ATEX and CE marking.
When the U.K. voted in 2016 to leave the EU, the future for FM Approvals' UK NB status was put into question. "We knew immediately that we needed to establish ourselves as a notified body somewhere else in the European Union," explains Rich Ferron, vice president of testing and certification. "We spent the next two years evaluating possible new locations within the EU, and then working with a dedicated team, that included FM Approvals staff in the U.S.A and U.K., Finance, Legal and Real Estate colleagues, to establish a new office in Ireland and a new notified body in the EU before Brexit".
"We found an ideal match in the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) and successfully completed their assessment," explains Bob Lovell, FM Approvals operations vice president of auditing and quality assurance who worked very closely with Andrew Was, FM Approvals audit and quality manager for EMEA. "We were recently granted our new notified body status by the European Commission and have begun to transfer current, compliant ATEX and CPR certificates to our new notified body in Ireland." [Visit this link to learn more about the transfer process.]
It was a challenging path, explains Witali Engelhardt, FM Approvals operations vice president and manager of EMEA. "Everyone worked closely to establish the new notified body in Ireland. We are now in position to provide a clear pathway for our customers and continue to provide the certification services they've come to expect from us. We have taken a proactive approach and it has paid off by providing business continuity and certainty for our customers."
New Dublin base
The new Dublin headquarters (Fig. 1) for FM Approvals Europe Ltd. is staffed by certification managers who are available to assist customers with certificate transfers, new program initiation and other services. Other FM Approvals staff based throughout Europe and in the United States will also continue to support customers located in the EU and around the world.
We spoke recently with Richard Zammitt, an FM Approvals senior engineer and certification manager for the Dublin office. Zammitt is an expert in the EU Construction Products Regulation (CPR), which includes harmonized standards covering many types of construction and fire protection products. He relocated to Dublin from Windsor, England, to help establish the new FM Approvals location.
He notes, "We are doing everything possible to ensure that our customers have a seamless transition to our new notified body. It's really just a matter of formally processing paperwork at this point. Customers will still deal with the same FM Approvals contacts they did before and get the same high level of service."
Technical Assessment Body through EOTA is continued
FM Approvals Europe Ltd. has also been named a Technical Assessment Body (TAB) under the European Organization for Technical Approvals (EOTA). While there are more almost 3,000Notified Bodies in the EU, there are only about 50 members of EOTA. Each EOTA member is selected by its respective country's government based on its area of expertise and standards development capabilities. FM Approvals Ltd. has been one of six EOTA members representing the U.K. for the past 12 years.
EOTA members are qualified to issue European Technical Assessments (ETAs) for applicable construction products required for CE marking. The "EOTA process" is used when there is no harmonized standard covering a construction product [see Seismic Bracing story in this issue] and there is a need for the EOTA member—such as FM Approvals—to effectively "write the standard" to allow the product to be assessed.
Bob Lovell notes, "We got a head start on the Brexit situation and we are now in the best position we can be to help our existing customers and handle new business and bundling requests like nothing ever happened. There's no denying that Brexit has caused many people, companies and organizations a lot of hardship. Everyone is dealing with the situation in the best way they know how. We believe that our customers will be very pleased with the seamless transition we will provide to them."