IMQ certifies the innovation

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Antonella Scaglia, managing director of IMQ
Antonella Scaglia, managing director of IMQ

Safer, ergonomic, sustainable: Antonella Scaglia, managing director of the Italian Institute for the Quality Mark, supports the new technological home appliances and suggests to buy them

By Carla Zanardi

The latest innovations in the world of home appliances witness how much, during these last years, there has been an acceleration in the use of new technologies. Often borrowed from other devices that nonstop flank our days, and not only during the work time. Technologies that have made ​​ the home appliances even more “intelligent” and autonomous with touch controls, connection apps that allow to manage them remotely, programmability to have them at our service in the most opportune times and ways. As it often happens, the benefits of innovations extend themselves in parallel to other areas: in this case we have achieved a significant reduction in electricity and water consumptions for the sake of the environment.
To complete the profile of these new devices, we also have deepened what concerns the reliability, quality, safety and sustainability. And we turned to IMQ (Italian Institute for the Quality Mark), the most important Italian certification body, to which the manufacturing businesses trust, leader in Europe in the conformity assessment activity for Italy and foreign countries in the main industrial, services and manufacturing sectors. Eng. Antonella Scaglia, managing director, answers to our questions.

Eng. Scaglia, from the point of view of IMQ, how have these innovations been considered and how, do you think, have consumers received them?
The “new home appliances” are more and more appreciated. Today, also thanks to an increasingly accessible information, consumers begin to understand the benefits of new technologies and to make choices in favor of these.
Automation, domotics, smart appliances, until the day before yesterday were subjects for few; but today is no more so. In the case of household appliances, such as for other devices, the speed of market penetration is, however, also linked to the framework conditions of the “environment” in which the device itself must be installed. In the specific case, for example, the characteristics of the house plant can condition the immediate advantage obtainable with the choice of the new device. There can be, in fact, some critical elements, such as: a too old electrical system, the lack of connection to the network, situations that make less justified the purchase of a smart device.
IMQ, that since its origins, more than 60 years ago, has worked alongside producers, often acts as a driver of the new technologies. Supporting manufacturers in the enhancement of the quality and verifying the conformity of their products, IMQ, in fact, through its issued marks, makes the value of reliability, safety and performance of the appliance “visible” and “guaranteed” for the consumer.

What did it change in the test used by IMQ for the quality and safety verification of appliances that integrate electronic devices? Was it necessary to adopt new equipment?
The tests, procedures and equipment have been adapted to the new requirements.
IMQ systematically invests in order to maintain the excellence of the laboratories.
In the specific case, for the new tests on home appliances that include checks of integrated devices, IMQ could, however, make use of the already-established experience in the field of electronic devices and of the reliability of the software, areas in which the tests performed are of the same nature of the additional tests requested for “new appliances.”

With regard to safety, according to the tests made by IMQ, have these new appliances resulted more reliable? Have some problems of use occurred?
The introduction of new technologies in household appliances had an impact not only in terms of increased security but it also corresponded to instances of environmental and social kind.
Today, an home appliance, for example, presents new performance parameters in terms of energy efficiency, increased ergonomics and usability, addressing to senior people or to persons with movements difficulties.
In this regard, I take this opportunity to point out how much it is necessary, in terms of safety and reliability, to oversee the introduction of products on our market.
Unfortunately, on the market there are still many unsafe and non-compliant products. So I would like to refer some data regarding the activity that IMQ carries out, as a testing laboratory, alongside the Customs and Monopoly Agency and Chambers of Commerce.
In 2014, for the Customs Agency, we carried out 150 operations of inspection and verification tests on thousands of electrical products of low quality, coming mainly from the Southeast of Asia that were to be placed in our market. Monitoring has focused on a representative sample of more than 200,000 products. Only 5.69% complied with the safety regulations in force. Surveys conducted on the remaining 94.30% (corresponding to a total of about 182,300 pieces) have instead obtained a negative result because the products did not meet the requirements of safety and quality of the current European directives. To the 19.24% of these the immediate marketing ban and the withdrawal from the market have been imposed, while severe measures of conformation were required to the remaining.

Is the IMQ mark required by all producers of household appliances on sale in Italy? Conversely, by what other Institutions are they tested for quality and safety, in Europe and in other continents?
We have the honor to verify the quality and safety of domestic appliances of the main Italian and European producers. Products with IMQ mark, brand that is recognized at European level, are sold in Italy and throughout Europe. The presence of other marks is possible in particular where there is a need to present local certifications. For example, products addressed to the US market have a “duty” to have a North American brand to be accepted by the local distribution channels.

IMQ is also present in other European countries, Asian or of the USA. With what other eventual institutes does it collaborate?
IMQ SpA is the leader company of the IMQ Group, an organization present today in Italy, Poland, Spain, China and the United Arab Emirates.
Partnerships with other bodies are numerous, and agreements can be bilateral or multilateral. The absolute protagonist, in this second case, is the CB Scheme, of the IECEE, of which IMQ is member for Italy. It is an international agreement of mutual recognition among more than 60 different organizations and countries.
Regarding bilateral recognitions, IMQ has agreements with the Australian SAI Global, with UL and MET for the North American market, with the Korean KTL, with Argentinian IRAM, as well as numerous others for the Brazilian market, for Saudi Arabia, for United Arab Emirates…

With what motivation does the user choose to buy a low consumption appliance, A ++ and A +++ Classes: saving on bills – sometimes not attractive – attention to the environment, quality?
Perhaps to this question manufacturers could give a more accurate answer, because systematically they make studies on the approval rating of their products.
However, we can say that focusing the choice on the higher efficiency products, even if the users do not particularly appreciate savings, they reward design efforts in terms of quality and sustainability on the product itself. Concepts, the latter, about which the consumer is gradually becoming more sensitive.

Given the higher cost of the low consumption home appliances, according to IMQ’s opinion, is it advisable to buy them?
Yes, because in this way a virtuous circle is promoted in terms of quality and sustainability, as I mentioned above.