Ine Cox - Regulations and Agencies Specialist
How are you involved in this competence on a day-to-day basis?
I coordinate and follow up all UL certifications for DSM Engineering Plastics materials globally. Aside from that, I also participate in a number of standardization committees. Not only the Underwriters Laboratories group, but also, for instance, the European Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technology (VDE), and the International Electrotechnical Commission(IEC) – the international standards and conformity assessment body for all fields of electrotechnology.
What is the value of being involved in such committees?
Obviously you want to optimize the standards in terms of safety. But there are various ways to define and achieve this, and different parties involved have different interests. For instance, I’m on the Standards Technical Panel (STP) for UL. Such panels include other raw material suppliers, but also other test laboratories and electronic manufacturers that have different goals. Our involvement ensures that our voice is heard, and that tomorrow’s standards will address the concerns of our company and our customers.
How have you seen the competence develop, and what is its value to DSM?
Actually, the roots go back way before my time to the early 1970s, when UL Yellow Cards were published for the first Akulon materials. Our lab in Geleen became part of UL’s Data Acceptance Program in 1996, which means UL accepts the test data we generate for specific tests in support of UL certification. The increased control that this gives us over the timing and schedule of our own material testing and certification program is a great advantage. It does, however, require ongoing attention in ensuring we comply with the latest standards and new developments in UL testing.
Are there any particularly surprising or exciting moments in your job?
There are numerous moments that are exciting. An example, of course, is when a non-conformance occurs at one of our production locations, and all the stakeholders – including production staff, the lab, GPTM and others – focus their investigative powers on resolving it. It’s also a big day when UL representatives visit our labs and production facilities, as they regularly do, to ensure we are compliant. But one of my personal favorites is when a long-term heat-ageing program has been completed successfully, and the assigned ratings are exactly as expected – or even higher!
If you could enable any kind of “breakthrough” in your field, what would it be?
It would be great if we could accelerate long-term heat ageing test programs. These generally take up to a year to complete – and sometimes even more – but I can always count on people coming up to me about one week into the process and asking when the rating can be expected. We’re actually exploring ideas together with UL on how to get insights earlier, which would involve some sort of model predicting long-term ageing performance. This is still in the very early stages and will take quite some time to establish, but it’s something DSM and UL are already working on.
Does the professional work you do tie into your personal life in any way?
I’m proud that the work I do in terms of UL and other certifications makes it easier for our customers to make a smart choice of materials they can use in their desired applications. But it’s also a happy thought knowing that the TV set or computer in my own house contains UL-certified materials, which definitely makes it a safer place than it would be without!