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Know Your Products: Construction Products Directive (305/2011)

19 March 2014

The EU Construction Products Regulation (No. 305/2011 - CPR) lays down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and is directly applicable in its entirety in Irish law.

The four key instruments are:

(i)   A system of harmonised technical specifications

(ii)  An agreed system of Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP)

(iii) A framework of notified bodies

(iv)  The CE Marking label (refer to diagram)

The system of harmonised technical specifications include harmonised European standards (hENs) [generally for traditional construction products], and European Assessment Documents (EADs) [usually for innovative products].  These both provide assessment methods for the performance of construction products.

What does the CPR require?

From 1 July 2013, manufacturers of construction products which are covered by harmonised European product standards (hENs), will be required, when placing a product on the market, to:

make a Declaration of Performance (DoP) for the product, and
affix the CE mark.

Harmonised European Standards (hENs)

Currently, there are over 500 hENs covering a broad range of construction products.  hENs are progressively becoming the norm as conflicting national standards (e.g. Irish and British Standards commonly used here) are being withdrawn.

All hENs have an informative Annex ZA, and in general, this annex contains 3 parts:

ZA.1 - a list of product characteristics as well as the clauses in the standard in which the assessment or test method is set out or referred to.  The list represents a compilation of all regulated requirements for the product in question across the EU.
ZA.2 - the procedures for conformity assessment, namely the tasks to be carried out by the manufacturer and the notified body.  This is currently referred to as the agreed system of attestation of conformity, but will be known as the system of assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance under the CPR.
ZA.3 - the process for CE Marking and labelling.

Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP)

The system of Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP)    is the term applied to define the degree of involvement of third parties in assessing the conformity of the product according to the relevant technical specification(s). For each product family, the system of AVCP is decided collectively bythe Member States and the European Commission. They do so on the basis of the implications of the product on health and safety and on the particular nature and production process for the product itself. To achieve this the CPR uses five main elements:

Factory Production Control (FPC) on the basis of documented, permanent and internal control of production in a factory, in accordance with the relevant harmonised technical specifications
Initial inspection of the manufacturing plant and of the FPC
Continuous surveillance, assessment and evaluation of the FPC
Determination of product type on the basis of type testing, type calculation, tabulated values or descriptive documentation of the product
Audit testing of samples taken before placing the product on the market.

The five systems of AVCP and the level of involvement of notified bodies in each is as follows:

System 1+ - product certification comprising the issuing of a   certificate of constancy of performance with determination of the product-type, continuous surveillance and audit testing by a notified product certification body        
System 1 – product certification comprising the issuing of a certificate of constancy of performance with determination of the product-type and continuous surveillance by a notified product certification body
System 2+ - factory production control certification with continuous surveillance by a notified factory production control certification body
System 3 – determination of product type by a notified testing laboratory
System 4 - manufacturer’s tasks only.

For all systems the manufacturer is required to have a fully documented FPC system. The criteria for this should be included in the harmonised technical specification. Once all the appropriate conformity assessment tasks have been carried         out for  the product, the manufacturer is required to complete a Declaration of Performance (DoP) which is kept with the technical file concerning the product. This may be supported by a certificate of constancy of performance, certificate of conformity of the FPC, test laboratory reports or certificates, and/or a manufacturer’s own test results, depending on the system of AVCP required.

Declaration of Performance (DoP)

The DoP provides information about the essential characteristics of the product and by making a DoP the manufacturer, importer or distributor is assuming legal responsibility for the conformity of the construction product with its declared performance. The information to be contained in a DoP is detailed in Annex ZA of a hEN or in a section of the EAD, and this ‘checklist’ can also be used for affixing the CE Mark. DoPs must be supplied either in paper form or by electronic means which includes, by Special Derogation in article 7.3 of the CPR, permission to make them available on a website. This derogation will only apply from a date yet to be determined in 2014.

All the information supplied with the DoP should be obtained by strictly applying the methods and criteria provided by the relevant hEN. The application of the CE mark follows the DoP and effectively certifies that the manufacturer has strictly followed all the applicable procedures in drawing up the DoP and that, consequently, the DoP is accurate and reliable.

Notified Bodies

Notified bodies are the product certification bodies, FPC  certification bodies and testing laboratories which are considered to  be competent  to carry            out the conformity assessment tasks. Such bodies are first           approved by their respective Member States to        carry out certain designated tasks, and then notified     to the European Commission and other Member States. Hence, they are variously called ’approved bodies‘, ’designated          bodies‘ or ’notified bodies‘.

With respect to the function of notified bodies  involved in the AVCP for construction products, distinction must be made between:

testing laboratory: a notified laboratory which measures, examines, tests, calibratesor otherwise determines the characteristics or performance of materials or construction products
factory production control certification body: a notified body possessing the necessary competence and responsibility to carry out FPC certification in accordancewith given rules of procedure and management
product certification body:    a notified body possessing the necessary competency and responsibility in  accordance with given rules of procedure and management.

Notified bodies are required to demonstrate competence covering all the third-party tasks in the AVCP process within the relevant scope for which they have been notified.

CE Marking

CE marking enables a product to be placed legally on the market in any Member State. However, this does not necessarily mean that the product will be suitable for all end uses in all Member States.

CE marking indicates that a product is consistent with its DoP as made by the manufacturer. The declaration varies according to the particular harmonised technical specification covering the product. In general there are three ways in which information can be presented for each relevant characteristic:

confirmation of achievement of a minimum performance or threshold. This could be by satisfying a Pass/Fail criterion or simply by being eligible to be in the standard.
the actual performance (a declared value)
a particular class of performance reached.

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