From small towns to the largest cities, code officials, architects and installers look to municipal building codes to find products, product designs and installation compliance requirements for their projects. Across the country, those codes often cite the use of UL listed (certified) products as the best way of demonstrating compliance.
UL certifies more than 18,000 different types of products, and for many years, the company has published product directories to help code officials and architects find the products that comply with installation code requirements. But with business commonly conducted through computers, tablets and smart phones, searching 1,000-plus-page directories to find the right product was definitely an “old-school” approach.
UL has answered this challenge by creating a one-stop web search tool to find UL certified products: UL Product Spec.
Al Ramirez, regional manager of Regulatory Services at UL, said the advantage of UL Product Spec is that it features multiple means of locating the needed UL certified products to help meet code.
“Our model was a Google search,” Ramirez said. “(Product Spec) provides an intuitive, powerful tool for putting the right information housed in our vast databases of certification information into the right hands.”
Users of UL Product Spec can search for products using five different categories — “Installation Code,” “Product Type,” “Products, Systems or Assemblies,” “UL Product Category Code” and “Master Format Number.”
Ramirez said UL originally accommodated its clients’ online needs by creating Code Link, its first system for identifying products by their installation code requirements online. Code Link organized products by various North American model codes. While Code Link was well suited for the use of various code officials such as municipal code inspectors and plan reviewers, the site was difficult to use by anyone else not familiar with model code nomenclature.
When the need to redo the Code Link website became necessary, Ramirez said Regulatory Services staff realized expanding the ability of the site would help other users such as builders and architects.
Now, the “Master Format” category allows architects to enter in familiar MasterFormat code numbers as a way to match UL Certified products and systems to recognized building construction specifications.
The “Product Type” category accommodates searches for a product by the use of key word(s). This isn’t as obvious or as easy as it sounds, Ramirez said, architects often use industry-accepted terms for products that don’t match UL’s official name for the same product. Product Spec is designed to correctly translate industry terms to match applicable UL certified products.
For instance, electricians will commonly use what they call “zip cords,” but there are no UL Mark products called a “zip cord.” However, Product Spec will correctly direct that request to the “flexible cords” category that will include these products. Ramirez said regulatory staff routinely monitor and adjust keyword requests to make sure users are consistently being directed to the products they seek.
The website for UL Product Spec is at http://productspec.ul.com/. For more information about this site, please contact UL Regional Manager of Regulatory Services Al Ramirez at (847) 664-2905 or at Alfredo.M.Ramirez@ul.com.