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Trust, transparency and the importance of third-party certification

Mats Sándor, senior technical director of Systemair and president of AMCA, along with Mark Stevens, executive director of AMCA, share their insights on the perils of technical misinformation, the importance of third-party verification, and manufacturers’ role in driving change within the fan sector.

Mats Sandor and Mark Stevens.

Trust is key to unlocking better building performance and meeting global sustainability goals, states Mats Sándor, Senior Technical Director of Systemair and President of AMCA. “For a product to fulfil its task in the best way possible, its technical documentation should be accurate and easy to understand,” he says, underscoring that every component plays an important role in the overall functionality and efficiency of the ventilation system. Reliable technical documentation, Mr Sándor adds, also helps in providing a fair comparison of products from different manufacturers. Unfortunately, he points out, the market continues to suffer from dubious business practices that put projects at risk of falling victim to false or misrepresented technical information.

Mr Sándor explains that these dubious practices emerge in a number of ways. “First, technical data are sometimes inflated and then misrepresented to customers in some manufacturers’ bids to achieve competitive advantages,” he says. “There are also instances where technical data are submitted with different and confusing engineering units, which make it difficult for customers to compare products.” Providing an example, Mr Sándor describes how acoustic data may be represented as sound pressure rather than sound power.

Weighing in on the issue, Mark Stevens, Executive Director, AMCA, says that there are also cases where the misuse of a test standard results in incorrect or exaggerated performance data. Another common occurrence he highlights relates to electronic catalogues with incorrect interpolation between working points, pitch angles or sizes. “These are only a few of the forms that misrepresentation may take, but there are many more instances that dilute the quality of information in the market,” Stevens states. “Whatever the agenda, and in whatever form misrepresentation takes, the customer is the one that suffers.”

In agreement, Mr Sándor adds that from the onset it is already difficult for a customer to check for themselves whether a fan’s characteristics are correct, such as sound levels, pressure, and air flow. “This difficulty is aggravated by the fact that fans are part of a system where many other factors affect the final resulting system performance leading to incorrect volume flows, sound problems and increased energy use,” he says.

This is where independent, third-party organisations bring value to the industry, says Stevens. “Verification by a third party that a product’s technical data is correct and properly represented builds trust between manufacturers and their customers, who can rely on the information provided due to a rigorous certification process,” adds Mr Sándor.

The importance of third-party associations

The Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) International is one such body. “AMCA is a not-for-profit association of manufacturers of fans, dampers, louvers, air curtains, and other air-system components for commercial HVAC as well as industrial-process, and power-generation applications,” Mr Stevens explains.

Since its establishment in 1916 by nine founding companies, Stevens reports that the Association has come a long way from its inaugural meeting on February 9, 1917 in Chicago, USA to its current membership base of nearly 400 companies across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia, supported by 30 full time employees. “In addition to owning and operating two laboratories, one outside Chicago and the other in Johor, Malaysia, AMCA also has three partner labs: CETIAT in Lyon, France, Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants in Dubai, UAE, and Korea Testing Certification (KTC) in Korea,” he elaborates.

Mr Stevens explains that AMCA’s activities are focused on three main areas, with product certification, AMCA’s primary activity, exemplified by the commitment to a robust and accessible program. AMCA’s certification program is supported by AMCA’s Laboratory Accreditation Program, which provides a means for laboratories to be qualified for the testing of products in accordance with appropriate AMCA and ISO standard test methods or other test recognised test methods. The two remaining areas of focus are training and education and on advocacy in the regulatory, legislative, and standardisation arenas.

Through the Association’s education drive, Mr Stevens says that AMCA strives to promote knowledge exchange among its members as well as to the market through the wealth of material it has consolidated in the form of market analysis, published data, online material, educational modules and technical seminars and conferences. “As part of its advocacy, AMCA also aims to promote and defend the cause of efficient, healthy, and safe buildings by participating in the development and refinement of codes, standards, and regulations and through the education and information of decision-makers and practitioners,” he says.

 

Manufacturers' role in raising industry standards

Mr Sándor reflects on how the importance of manufacturers role in this regard and how a lot of the milestones that AMCA has achieved over the years stems from the steadfast support of its members, comprised of manufacturers such as Systemair. “AMCA has continued to cultivate a strong partnership with Systemair, with many experts from within the company actively sharing knowledge from years of working in the industry through participation in boards and committees,” he says.

Drawing from his rich background in Systemair, Sándor says the Swedish manufacturing company also stands by AMCA’s commitment to trust. “This is a core principle for the company, which invested in a laboratory and allowed AMCA, as an independent organization, to provide accreditation,” he says. “In 1996, Systemair’s laboratory in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden, became one of Europe’s first AMCA-accredited laboratories for the testing of fans for air performance and sound, and for the air curtains for air performance, velocity uniformity and velocity projection.”

Since then, Systemair have added three more AMCA accredited laboratories to its portfolio. This includes a laboratory for the testing of air performance in Windischbuch, Germany, a laboratory for testing air performance and sound in Greater Noida, India, and another laboratory for testing air performance and sound in Lenexa, USA.

Mr Sándor says: “Systemair continues to play an active participant within AMCA, as it reflects its commitment to meeting the larger goal of raising standards within the HVAC sector.” He also highlights the important contribution of third-party certifications in helping achieve wider sustainability and energy efficiency goals. “This is especially true in markets that do not have advanced regulations related to product performance,” he says. “At the end of the day, if the reported data are not correct, there is a risk that there will be problems related to noise and that the amount of ventilated air will not be as planned with the consequence of poorer indoor air quality or increased energy consumption.”

Overall, Mr Sándor asserts that positive change requires all stakeholders to come together to raise the standards and build a more sustainable future, and the industry should take a leadership role to be accountable and drive change for the better.

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