July 27, 2020
A new provision for the UL 508A Industrial Control Panel (ICP) Shop Program was recently announced requiring each UL 508A Listed industrial control panel shop to qualify and maintain a manufacturer technical representative (MTR) on staff. This new requirement confirms that there is at least one qualified employee (MTR) on staff, at each physical location manufacturing industrial control panels, who can effectively interpret and accurately apply the requirements of UL 508A, the Standard for Industrial Control Panels. This requirement becomes effective for U.S. and Canada locations on Feb. 1, 2021. The program will be announced and deployed to other global regions at a later time.
The UL 508A General Coverage MTR Program is expected to not only increase accountability and decrease certain noncompliance findings and the associated disruption but also boost confidence in the downstream distribution chain all the way to the final purchaser. Its focus is to enhance the value of the UL Mark for manufacturers, code authorities and end users, while reinforcing UL’s partnership with manufacturers that can help them bring safer products to market.
UL 508A ICP Shop Program
The UL 508A ICP Shop Program is part of UL’s General Coverage programs, which offer ICP manufacturers flexibility to apply UL certification Marks to a wide range of industrial control panel designs. General Coverage programs combine UL’s vast selection of approved (Listed or Recognized) components for preselection with specific design parameters and instructions for production line testing. Through the General Coverage program, manufacturers can offer large catalogs of products built around common platforms that are customized to meet their customer and market needs.
General Coverage relies on the manufacturer to understand and design within the scope of certain requirements in the UL 508A industrial control panel Standard. The manufacturer is expected to identify the requirements from the Standard that apply to each new design, verify that the panel construction meets those requirements and maintain applicable documents for review by the UL field engineer during periodic visits. The manufacturer’s level of knowledge and quality control measures are important elements of these programs.
Manufacturers initially entering the ICP Shop Program are required to complete mandatory training on the UL 508A Standard. Since training is an essential part of the program, authorization to apply the UL Mark comes after the completion of training. After completing this initial mandatory training, there are no additional requirements for training. Through staff turnover and other personnel events, staff initially trained at program entry often are no longer with the organization, potentially leaving the organization with no formally trained or qualified staff for the UL 508A Standard. How to maintain UL 508A qualified staff varies across manufacturers, with many turning to in house formal and on the job training programs. Many vendors, including UL, offer formal training programs to build and maintain UL 508A knowledge and skills; however, the approach and methods of training to help ensure continued knowledge of the UL 508A Standard requirements is at the discretion of each manufacturer.
UL 508A Manufacturer Technical Representative (MTR) Program
The UL 508A MTR Program provides a means for a manufacturer’s staff to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the UL 508A Standard. “Qualification as an MTR provides the manufacturer, UL and code authorities the confidence that qualified, competent staff are engaged in the design and manufacture of industrial control panels bearing the UL Mark,” stated Tony Robertson, program manager, energy and power technologies division, UL.
To qualify as an MTR, an individual must successfully complete an online examination with a passing score of 80% or higher. The examination is administered online through UL and is available on-demand through any computer, laptop or tablet with internet access.
Upon successful completion of the UL 508A MTR examination, the individual is qualified for a three year period. At the end of the three-year period, the individual must requalify by the successful completion of the current UL 508A MTR examination.
It is important to note that the MTR certification is exclusive to the individual. Should the individual change employers, the MTR certification follows the individual. UL encourages each manufacturing location to certify multiple MTR’s.
“The exam will allow us to identify skill gaps and partner with ICP Shop Program members to increase their knowledge and application of the Standard,” stated John Kovacik, principal engineer for industrial control panels, energy and power technologies division, UL. “The UL 508A Standard is an ever-changing, dynamic document, reflecting changes in technology and the needs of the marketplace. Our customers are hungry for knowledge of the Standard and the MTR program will allow us to assist them in keeping pace with the continuing changes to the Standard.”
The UL 508A MTR qualification examination and UL 508A eLearning are now available at no cost to current UL 508A industrial control panel shops through Feb. 1, 2021. The 508A eLearning modules are great for refresher training and also a preparatory for the MTR examination. After Feb. 1, 2021, individual fees for the eLearning and examination will apply. Please refer to your UL subscriber bulletin for access instructions, email [email protected] or call 888.503.5536.
Questions about the MTR qualification examination or program requirements should be directed to your UL field engineer who can engage additional technical resources as needed. For all other questions regarding the implementation of the MTR program, please contact:
For U.S. and Canada – [email protected]