May 30, 2022
The furniture industry has been on a wild ride for the past several years. A confluence of factors, such as surging demand, supply challenges and shifting consumer needs, means furniture manufacturers need to stay nimble however they can.
Let’s look at some of these issues and how proactive testing and certification can help manufacturers overcome related challenges.
- Blurring the line between home and office – One trend designers have seen grow is resimercial, a style that brings the homey feel of residential furniture into the office or workplace. Resimercial eliminates bland corporate style in favor of cozy-but-functional pieces that encourage coworkers to linger and collaborate.
As furniture designers and manufacturers revamp catalogs to tap into this trend, it is important to remember that resimercial pieces must still stand up to the rigor of use in a workplace. Work-centric items making their way into a home office must also take into account the dangers posed to little hands, as children may be present and play on modular office chairs, electrified settees, etc. Learn more about the gaps between testing and certification for residential vs. commercial.
- Supply-chain woes – For the past two years, challenges have been stacking up. First, the pandemic forced overseas factories to shut down or limit production. Then, housebound consumers started ordering home furnishings in droves. Now, shipping costs and cargo delays mean that manufacturers are struggling with tighter profit margins or passing along the difference to buyers.
These issues mean furniture manufacturers must be on-point at all times, including when seeking testing, inspection and certification services. A third-party provider like UL can help you navigate the certification process, from design to manufacture and beyond to help meet go-to-market targets.
- Changing tastes for the largest generation – Millennials now make up more than half of the world’s population — and at ages 26 to 41, they are not kids anymore. They have disposable income and new priorities for spending. In a 2019 report, Nielsen found that 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.
But buyers are wary of greenwashing and looking for an independent perspective through reputable third-party testing and certification. Manufacturers should be careful to back up claims, whether regarding vital issues such as flammability or trend-driven concerns such as fabrics and finishes free of volatile organic compounds (VOC).
Making furniture certification more efficient: A manufacturer’s guide to success
Whether you are looking to break into new markets, add new products to your line or maintain compliance with emerging regulations, testing and certification for furniture products is a necessary part of the process.
With the right preparation, and by understanding all necessary requirements, you can save time and hassle, develop products in compliance with safety regulations, and go to market as efficiently as possible.
Start at the beginning — contract for testing and certification services during the design process. Your testing provider can evaluate for any potential issues in your proposed design.
Simplify furniture certification: 6 easy-to-follow steps
Before you engage with your third-party testing provider of choice, go through this checklist to see if you’re setting your product up for success.
- Gather all information – These are must-have details that are required for testing, inspection and certification. Any missing data can slow the process.
Be sure to include:
Product type Electrical ratings, if any Photos/illustrations of the product and label Polymeric enclosure data Component information Applicant and manufacturer info
- Intended use of the product – Is it meant for a commercial setting? Home use? Hospitality? Different applications are subject to different standards, and before testing begins, you will need to specify these uses.
- Where you want to sell your products – Each market has specific regulations that may or may not correspond with your preferred timeline. UL is familiar with all standards in global markets and can help you research, respond to and prioritize your plan. Learn about our Global Market Access services.
- Multiple units for evaluation and/or additional parts – While an investigation may be completed with just one unit, why risk delays if another is needed due to disassembly? Providing several units can keep the process moving. Learn more about furniture test equipment and accessories.
- Product variations – Be sure to include all model numbers being submitted, with information on model variations. Consider creating a table or spreadsheet noting differences in electrical components, enclosure size and materials, ratings and more.
- Instruction manual and user guide – Many manufacturers forget to include these helpful items during testing, and the project simply can’t be completed without them. If you do not have a finalized manual, send a working draft that outlines functions, intended use, cautionary statements and other important details.
Other furniture-specific considerations
As you engage with furniture testing services, take note of several processes that are recommended or required for certification in most markets.
Initial engineering evaluation
This service is especially helpful to manufacturers who are new to the certification process or introducing a new product concept to the market. Best described as a preliminary review, an initial engineering evaluation looks at component and material selections and identifies any challenges or noncompliant issues before the formal evaluation cycle begins.
This important testing is critical to help ensure that your products are safer for home and workplace use. Your approach to managing flammability risk starts by selecting and sourcing materials and components that have already been evaluated to the appropriate standard; this approach will help streamline the evaluation and help you earn certification faster. UL can provide guidance on careful sourcing and help you develop a testing plan to demonstrate compliance. Learn more about flammability testing.
Manufacturers and retailers rely on the quality and performance of their products to maintain their brand reputation. This is why it is important to have an understanding of the global market and what regulations and testing are required. It helps to define testing programs in advance that identify specific issues or compare different technical solutions. For example, consider conducting special tests on sofa cushions to determine behavior after years of use, or special climatic cycles for glued parts.
Get started with furniture testing and certification
By bringing new products to market and expanding a catalog of furniture offerings, manufacturers can continue to grow their brands and build on success. Testing helps identify and mitigate risk through a predictable process that helps facilitate smoother, swifter market entry.
Learn more about UL’s furniture testing and certification services and how you can engage with our seasoned global team: https://www.ul.com/industries/products-and-components/furniture.