Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wavin is geared up for new CEN standards and EU regulations

Compliance with local and EU regulations and quality management based on European standards is something that Wavin takes very seriously. We are very engaged in the standardisation and regulatory processes that affect our company, our products and – most importantly – our customers. Members of the Wavin Technology and Innovation (T&I) group keep track of any new changes and are always in the loop when new regulations are on the horizon. Let’s see how they do it and what we can expect in 2017.

Peter Verlaan and Tinus de Lange (European Standardisation & Certification at Wavin). Picture EU flag by  MPD01605.

At Wavin, we rely on the knowledge and expertise of seasoned professionals like our T&I standardisation managers, Tinus de Lange and Peter Verlaan. For years, they have been scrupulously following the regulatory and standardisation requirements put forth by the European Commission (based in Brussels) and e.g. the KIWA – ATA certifications, originating from The Hague.

Effective regulation at the European Union level can make a massive contribution to achieving our shared goals of improving competitiveness, jobs and growth.
John Hutton

European standardisation: Wavin takes responsibility

When it comes to the world of EU regulations and European standards, Wavin is actively engaged and proud to join other technology experts as contributors to the decision making process. Case in point: in order to make sure that discussions about plastic are founded on correct and scientific arguments, Wavin regularly joins CEN Technical Committee meetings, and also Teppfa and local plastic pipe associations (like BureauLeiding in Netherlands and KRV - Kunstoff Rohr Verband in Germany) are doing their part. Wavin holds a prominent presence at these meetings, where other parties often look at us to take the lead.

A recent example of Wavin’s participation in the regulatory process relates to the new and upcoming EU Drinking Water Directive - addressing the contact of drinking water with materials and, more specifically, on the creation of biofilm in distribution systems which depends on the (pipe) material used. Wavin provided technical support and advice throughout the whole process. Experts play a pivotal role in the regulatory process.

Why standardisation is necessary

According to the European Commission, “Standardisation is a powerful and strategic tool for improving the efficiency of European policies.The Commission pays special attention to standardisation because standards can influence most areas of public concern such as the competitiveness of industry, the functioning of the Single Market, the protection of the environment and of human health, not to forget the enhancement of innovation.” Simply put, standardisation is nothing more than trying to create the same way of working for all European countries (of course, based on EU regulation).

For the Wavin Technology & Innovation team (T&I), it is important to stay on top of things. If you are late or not present at an CEN Technical Committee meeting, a new Standard might be approved that could be detrimental to your business. For example, imagine a new Standard which dictates that pipe A should be used instead of pipe B. In this scenario, the pipe B supplier will be out of business. This is why it’s so important to remain in the loop at all times!

European Standards are translated and implemented in each EU country. Wavin T&I Standards and Compliance Manager Tinus de Lange even checks the Standards for other countries where Wavin conducts business. He makes sure that they are correctly translated, so as to prevent local words from being misinterpreted or changed. Across Europe, every Wavin office has a dedicated team of people who liaise and work closely with Tinus and Peter – to ensure compliance with all standards and regulations.

How are Standards or Norms developed?

It all starts at the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). The CEN is divided into many sectors, with each having its own Technical Committees who debate and decide about the standards for their market. Tinus and Peter are active in three TCs: TC155 (Plastic piping systems and ducting systems), TC 165 (Waste water engineering) and TC 164 (Water supply). Within each TC, there are many different stakeholders present, including engineers, test labs, etc. Together they decide/create the standard. There are approximately 400 standards in total.

The CEN consists of 27 countries with the number of votes based on the number of country residents. Wavin is present in many EU countries, so if all of our Wavin colleagues vote positively, we have a strong vote.  As the saying goes, “There’s strength in numbers.”

There's strength in numbers.
As the saying goes...

Standardisation matters: What to expect in 2017

More cooperation between EU countries.

According to the Wavin T&I dynamic duo, we can expect more cross-border cooperation. Legislation is a slow process. Associations, including certification companies like KIWA and DVGW, and government will have to cooperate with other countries.

CE Marking

The CE mark is a symbol which indicates that a product conforms to a specific standard and which tests have been done to secure that compliance. Per the European Commission, “Products sold in the EEA (European Economic Area) have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements." 

It’s there for the construction industry in general, but not yet mandatory for products that Wavin supplies for plastic piping systems. It’s not harmonized yet. Wavin refers to voluntary CEN standards (which are actually more strict than what’s coming out of the harmonised standard for CE marking). TC 155 has been asked by the EU Committee to finalize the harmonised standard for CE marking this year. Before the end of March 2017, there will need to be a plan in place, as the EU wants to get rid of local certifications because it is seen as trade barriers. We will make sure when in force all Wavin products in plastic piping systems will have the CE marking.

What’s on Wavin T&I’s wish list?

According to Peter, “We actually need to start way earlier with educating the engineers of tomorrow. Bring them to the Wavin Academy.”

And Tinus agrees. If he would have to think of one slogan it would be: “Invest in education”. “In schools, students are still working only with traditional materials like concrete and copper – believing them to be the standard materials… but in the meantime there is so much more available (and better!).”

At Wavin, we are so fortunate to have such a dedicated Technology & Innovation team. With diligent professionals like Tinus and Peter who navigate the complex world of regulations and standards so well, our customers can rest assured that when we say we are committed to quality, we really mean it.

The independent, accredited lab called Wavin Technology & Innovation

Wavin T&I actually is an independent, accredited lab! We can do our own testing, but we are also a frontrunner in standardising test methods. For example, there were previously no test methods in place to test infiltration units, so Wavin brought in their knowledge and developed one together with others. In the end this test turned into a standardised (ISO) one.

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