Compliance gets a bad press. There’s something about the regulatory hurdles required to obtain a CE marking or FCC approval that recalls the drudgery of tedious homework assignments, while the legal obligation to conform with various standards makes it feel even more of a chore. ‘Compliance stifles innovation’, ‘Do we have to do it?’ and ‘Great – so how do we get around that?’ are all responses we’ve heard over the years!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here at Blue Lightning Solutions, we think standards are fantastic. Why? Because they save lives, every day, and most would-be victims will never even notice.
An obstacle to creativity?
Compliance is often seen as a painful disruption to the creative process, and it’s certainly true that taking the time to read a 500-page standards document is less exciting than getting stuck into your project and building your prototype. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to integrate compliance into the project flow. Put it off long enough, and modifications will severely impact the project, as you run out of time and budget to deal with sweeping changes and duplicated work.
It’s a sad fact, but much of the regulation engineers and designers have to abide by has emerged from real accidents and catastrophic failures. Inquests and inquiries make recommendations to prevent the same mistakes being repeated, resulting in a series of regulations and standards prohibiting the use of techniques and materials that have been proven not to work. Your design might well be novel, but if it’s likely to injure the user, it should be a non-starter.
From real-world experience…
Furniture sold in the UK is subject to strict fire safety regulations because of a large number of fires caused by the polyurethane foam used to fill sofas and armchairs in the 1970s. The battery covers on your kids’ toys are screwed down because young children have been known to swallow the batteries and suffer horrifying internal injuries, often fatally. These aren’t hypothetical risks – these things have already happened. It seems likely that the appalling loss of life in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 will lead to tighter regulation around building materials, landlords’ fire-safety obligations and tower-block design, and the legacy of the recent OceanGate Titan disaster is yet to be established.
…to state-of-the-art design
Far from stifling innovation, regulations like these invite us, as engineers, to find solutions to make technological progress safe. Keeping your phone’s battery from catching fire is at least as important as making it light enough to carry in your pocket – so why would you treat it as an afterthought?
If it still all sounds too much like hard work, why not get in touch with us and ask about our product design and development service? We can help you develop all aspects of your concept from prototype to fully compliant, production-ready product.