UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a global independent safety science company with expertise in innovating safety solutions to promote safe living and working environments. Talking to Buildotech, Peeyush Gupta, Director, Sales and Marketing – UL explains how UL works with a diverse array of stakeholders and offers a broad range of services that supports every stage of the product life cycle.
What are UL various business units?
UL certifies, validates tests, inspects, audits, advises and trains. We provide the knowledge and expertise to help customers navigate growing complexities across the supply chain from compliance and regulatory issues to trade challenges and market access.
Our seven businesses, Commercial & Industrial, Environment, Information & Insights, Life & Health, Consumer, Enterprise Services, and Workplace Health & Safety, demonstrate our expanding breadth of expertise and growing range of services to offer solutions needed in a constantly evolving world.
We offer services relevant to different audiences. For e.g. UL offers software solutions to controllers interested in workplace safety, safety certification for toy manufacturers, transaction security guidance to financial service executives and consulting to sustainability officers seeking insight about the macro and micro complexities that impact their companies’ environmental performance..
The horizontal segments of our businesses consist of appliances and HVAC, building materials, cleaning products, energy and industrial systems, fire suppression, furniture and bedding, lighting, plumbing products and systems, wire and cables among many others.
Brief of the Product Mindset country report 2013 by UL
Recently, UL released its third annual global study – The Product Mindset 2013. The report untangles and classifies the global product ecosystem to gain deeper insight into manufacturer and consumer attitudes. The study was conducted across five different countries including developing nations like India, China and Brazil and developed nations like US and Germany. The India report examined the Indian manufacturer and consumer attitudes and priorities that set the country apart. The report uncovered an interesting fact that a high percentage of manufacturers were confident that consumers were ready to pay more for safe, reliable and sustainable products.
UL operations in India and its clients
UL is a premier global safety science company with more than 120 years of proven history. UL in India was established in 1998. The company’s commitment to testing and certification in India is to keep consumers safe, manufacturers, code authorities and retailers informed on evolving safety standards. Earlier Indian companies used to send their products to UL laboratory in the US for certifications to make them readily acceptable in global markets. As a part of UL’s “In India for India” strategy we have set up advanced laboratories & research facilities in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Manesar to service clients locally. UL tests, inspects, advises and educates the businesses, identify clients’ India specific needs and helps mitigate risk and manage costs.
Globally UL spread of customer base is about 65000 and in India it is approximately 2200 clients. Interestingly, the large part of our clients in India are SMEs (Small and medium enterprises). In last few years their share has grown from 50% to 80%.
If these small manufacturers are giving importance to product testing, evaluation and certification, it means the middle class which is mostly the buyers of SME products is keen to adopt safer and greener products. The other demand drivers for safe and sustainable products in India are the professionals like designers and architects who want to use better & environmentally safe materials in their projects.
Even though these manufacturers do not bring large number of product designs in the market every year, these SMEs are a growing base of entrepreneurs, willing to invest in R&D and technology in order to develop innovative and cost effective solutions to meet the growing needs of the Indian consumer.
Overview of the role of UL
Almost 22 billion UL Marks appear on products annually. With various components being produced in different countries, product- manufacturing is getting more complex. This calls for a third party to understand the manufacturers brand value who can provide support through the entire supply chain, confirm responsible sourcing and conduct in-depth inspections and audits.
For instance, UL verification services help manufacturers and retailers verify every aspect of the supply chain and production process from raw materials to retail delivery, it certify the products delivered are safe, socially responsible and compliant with industry and brand specifications. The Environmental division works to advance global sustainability by supporting the growth and development of environmentally preferable products, services and organizations. From product and organizational certifications to transparency, we help customers benefit from effective sustainability strategies.
Likewise, UL Life sciences provides the expertise necessary to navigate technical challenges in healthcare, health science and industries such as testing medical devices, pharmaceutical products performance, safe drinking water and help build trust between the consumers and manufacturers.
Our training services, across manufacturing, government and consumers equip people with the tools and training to address market challenges, manage risk and compete more effectively. We share our global knowledge, build systems & processes and create a database of certified suppliers accessible to the manufacturers.
We also collaborate with risk managers, safety directors, HR managers, training managers and healthcare professionals to help improve operational and financial performance by ensuring healthy work environment. UL understands the risks and demands of the modern workplace and offers software solutions for maintaining IAQ, automating medical surveillance and health & safety programs.
How is UL certification different from IGBC LEED or similar Green rating?
LEED, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects need to satisfy certain prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project. When an architect or a developer is designing a Green building project that would be LEED certified, they would need to design an environment friendly project.
UL‘s core strength lies in defining the standard / specification, test method for manufacturers to move from Green washing to Green validation thereby bringing credibility to the system.
UL currently provides around 72 standards for defining the sustainability of products. We encourage manufacturers to develop environment friendly products through – Environment Claim validation to Sustainable Product Certification.
Based on the complete Life Cycle Assessment of the product UL helps manufacturers to demonstrate their leadership through Environment Product Declaration. UL covers an entire gamut of testing and certifications services. Examples : UL GREENGUARD certification – for Indoor Air Quality, UL – Sustainability certification – Evaluating products for sustainability by life cycle assessment including Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions for adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings furniture etc, thereby helping them attain their sustainability goals.
UL also help companies achieve their sustainability goals by drawing out plans and parameters to test the company operations based on 3Rs- reduce, reuse and recycle apart from purchasing methods, documentation, STP, factory emissions etc. The company is rated half yearly or yearly on the sustainability index to derive its standing and accordingly is advised to evolve and execute its sustainability initiatives