NRTLs deliver Web tools for improved certificating

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. and CHICAGO—The security industry's two main NRTLs (nationally recognized testing laboratories), Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek ETL have each announced online tools designed to make the certificate process quicker and more accurate.

Integrators, central stations and AHJs all need access to relevant certificates in order to prove NRTL requirements for equipment and installations have been met. The process of applying for and acquiring said certificates has traditionally been time consuming.

UL has enhanced its online certificate services to provide more user-friendly and timely access to UL's Alarm Certificate Service, UL's section manager for alarm certificate services Pete Tallman told Security Systems News at the recent ESX.

"We're trying to get the word out to everyone here," Tallman said. "We're trying to do everything we can to make this process easier and faster."

Called ULwebCerts, the service allows alarm service providers to manage their UL alarm certificates and certificate applications on-line via UL's secure website, MyHome@UL.com. With ULwebCerts, UL Alarm Certificate Service customers can now request alarm certificates and receive immediate delivery of their certificate serial number and a "proof of certificate request," quickly satisfying AHJ requests.

Intertek ETL, which last year was approved by CSAA as a NRTL for the alarm industry, in June announced the launch of ETL AlarmDirect, a Web-based system providing around-the-clock access to intrusion and fire alarm certificate information for central stations, installers, dealers/integrators and AHJs. ETL says AlarmDirect will make the alarm certificate process quicker and more accurate.

"This is something we're extremely proud of. We've been developing this for the last few years. We've been in beta test mode for the last two months," said Tom Connaughton, who is ETL director life safety and security services, global and building products, North America. "This was based on talking with current and prospective customers as well as listening to what the AHJ community needs. What were their drivers? Transparency throughout the process, it's something we heard constantly and something this tool does. It's very important that we have complete transparency when we're talking to the AHJ and insurance carrier world."

AlarmDirect provides for the creation and delivery of alarm system description certificates around the clock, allowing for real-time status review and an overall process that takes a fraction of the time.

"What we've done is we've gone from a manual certificate generation process to an online and fully automated certificate generation process … Essentially it increases the reliability because there's no more human interface related to data entry," Connaughton said. "We developed this specifically to meet the needs of the alarm installers and the AHJ community. They've been asking for an automated, online system for some years now with no answer from our competitors … Traditionally customers would wait four to eight weeks from legacy competitors in this space to receive their certificates, whereas we're providing the turn around in hours, which is what the industry needs."

In 2008, UL began testing more extensive online certification tools and, based on positive feedback, the company stepped up the offering.

"We produced a more robust, comprehensive fully functional online portal—versus simply a design tool. The new ULwebCerts service is the next generation to this type of service offering for our Alarm Certificate Service customers," UL global marketing director Rob Tockarshewsky said. "There were several new enhancements and online view modifications added, making ULwebCerts much more comprehensive and user-friendly than the original version."