6 Things You Need to do Now to Prepare for IEC 62368-1

September 28, 2020 Bill Conrades, Sales Engineering Manager at MBX Systems

Product safety certifications aren’t typically at the front of anyone’s mind. But like oil changes and plumbing, without periodic maintenance, things can go south…fast. Today’s technology products carry either IEC 60950-1 or IEC 60065 product safety certifications to show compliance with hazard-based, performance-related risks. While these certs have satisfied market requirements for many years, major regulatory changes across the globe will now require an updated product safety standard to import technology products into some of the world’s largest markets.

The new standard is called IEC 62368-1, and it is the replacement certification for IEC 60950-1 (information technology equipment safety requirements) and IEC 60065 (audio, video and similar electronic apparatus safety requirements) in many countries. It’s a hazard-based, performance-related standard that addresses normal operating conditions and, in short, is intended to minimize the risk to anyone that may come in contact with the equipment during installation, operation, and maintenance.

Beginning December 20, 2020, IEC 62368-1 certification will be mandatory for exporting products that currently require CE marking.

Here’s what you need to know:

What products need IEC 62368-1?

The entire gamut of computer-related products falls into this category, from server hardware, embedded systems, and other standalone hardware, to display units, monitors, printers, sound systems, scanners, televisions, and projectors.

Any computer product that doesn’t carry the certification by December 20, 2020, will be denied entry to these European countries. Other countries that will also accept this certification include the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Since there is no global harmonization, other countries that require IEC 60950-1 or IEC 60065 such as China, Taiwan, and India are not changing standards.

What changes to system hardware will IEC 62368-1 require?

It’s important to note that this certification applies not only to the finished product but also to subsystems and components. The component that is most likely to be out of compliance today is the power supply, particularly the internal power supply. It’s no surprise because this standard is hazard-based and the power supply plays a major role in a product’s safety and its potentially harmful effects. Fortunately, component and system manufacturers have been working on making their newer products compliant. 

What systems currently carry IEC 62368-1?

It’s best to go back to your hardware source – the manufacturer, system builder, or integrator – to confirm whether your entire platform is in conformance. Many Tier 1 platforms have already been re-engineered to meet this standard, but it can’t be assumed. Also, Supermicro has been upgrading its SuperServers and UltraServers to be compliant. One clue you can look for is end-of-life dates on your hardware components. Manufacturers have been phasing out and replacing non-compliant parts, so if you see a 2020 EOL date, beware. 

Are there workarounds, like migrating to pre-engineered architecture?

There are definitely options but there is no one-size-fits-most solution, and some complex technologies may always require custom-configured systems. MBX has engineered several reference platform series to IEC 62368-1 standards with flexible configuration options, so the hardware can be right-sized for the application it runs. We can also move quickly and design a purpose-built device for your software that is spec’d with pre-certified components.

Will software images still work with reconfigured hardware?

Some companies choose this time to refresh their technology in conjunction with hardware updates due to the high cost of recertification, but it’s not necessary. As long as the hardware is compatible with the software and hits your performance thresholds, our engineers can prepare the image and drivers needed to make your software production-ready. 

What’s the timeline and cost?

There is definitely some urgency to getting started since all testing labs in general require several weeks to months to complete any certification. The longer you wait, the more constrained the labs will be with products rushing to get certified before the deadline. The cost largely depends on the hardware, but we’re seeing the testing to run roughly 25-50% higher than the certifications IEC 62368-1 is replacing.

Take action

Now is the time to create a transition plan if your products need to be updated. If you haven’t had your products reviewed, reach out to your hardware provider or contact MBX to find out if they are compliant.

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