Certification Test Life Extension

Rich Walker
March 20, 2015
COLUMN : Industry Watch | Codes & Standards

In December of 2014, AAMA introduced AAMA 103-14a, Procedural Guide for Certification of Window, Door and Skylight Assemblies, a completely revised Certification Program guide designed to comply with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17065, Conformity Assessment— Requirements for Bodies Certifying Products- 2012, as the basis for ANSI accreditation. Until now, the program has been based on ISO Guide 65:1996. The change to 17065 concentrates on the internal operations of window, door and skylight certification to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/IS2/A440 (NAFS), with modest impact on product manufacturers.

However, AAMA took the opportunity of the transition to launch an important advance in the program that will benefit manufacturers in several ways.

Effective December 1, 2014, all new test reports submitted to the Validator for review will be valid for five years, replacing the previous certification term of four years. All certifications current as of that date will be eligible for an additional five-year extension of the term of certification, provided the product manufacturer complies with the enhanced Quality Management System (QMS) requirements outlined in Section 17 of the 103-14a document.

The initial five-year period, coupled with the five-year extension, gave rise to the program name of “5+5” to indicate the new total “test life” of 10 years. All two-year certification extensions granted under the now-obsolete AAMA 106 will be rolled into the new program. The Waiver of Retest process for minor design or component changes remains available throughout the entire 10-year period.

The expansion of the initial certification term to five years will provide licensees with a larger return on their testing dollars. Those opting for the additional five-year extension will see an even larger return on their investment.

WHY THE CHANGE?

Aside from the more productive product investment aspect, manufacturers are facing more and more strict requirements and have only so many testing dollars. The “5+5” program allows them to better allocate more of those dollars toward a market that competitively demands Energy Starcertified products. Instead of paying to frequently retest products with minor design or component changes that have been pre-approved via Waiver of Retest, licensees can focus on energy efficiency testing.

Less Testing, More
Quality Control

To preserve the integrity and marketplace confidence in AAMA Certification while extending the interval between laboratory qualification tests—thus reducing the financial burden on manufacturers— the new program expands in-plant Quality Management System (QMS) requirements as a prerequisite to qualify for the additional five-year extension. The enhanced QMS requirements call for:

  • Internal audits,
  • IGU certification to ASTM E2190
  • In-house corner joint and water penetration testing per routines defined in NAFS, and
  • Enhanced finished product inspection, including an operating check.

While structural, water penetration, air infiltration and other physical requirements will always change, one of AAMA’s primary mandates is monitoring them, as well as leading proactive efforts to steer those changes. Standards that serve as the basis for certification will remain ahead of the curve.

The new program also puts more control in the hands of the manufacturer, shifting more responsibility for quality management to them to justify longer periods between tests. Manufacturers can develop their own processes that work best for them in meeting the required end results. This may be a bit of a challenge to some, but costs less than more frequent testing and will likely reduce costly warranty claims and call-backs.

Since 1962, this Certification Program—which is the original third-party window fenestration performance verification program— has provided window and door manufacturers with an added competitive edge. The key benefits include: providing mandatory product acceptance by building control authorities; managing legal liability; increasing market potential and efficiency; giving designers, architects, builders, building control authorities, and consumers greater confidence and certainty; and facilitating the use of new and innovative products.

Backed by ANSI accreditation since 1972, the AAMA “Gold Label,” which manufacturers elect to affix to approved products, is now wellrecognized throughout the industry as a definitive sign of code-mandated compliance and performance quality. The “5+5” program is designed to maintain the integrity of AAMA Certification while making it easier and more cost-effective for manufacturers to participate.

Rich Walker, who after 22 years of service to AAMA, announced his retirement from the position of President & CEO.