American rival moves in on BSI

Battle for global test and certification market to be played out on institution’s home territory

By Paul Carslake

A US product testing and certification company is to try to grab a stake of the market currently dominated by the British Standards Institution.

Tomorrow BSI members are to vote to give the institution the freedom to operate more like a commercial enterprise. At the same time, an executive from Underwriters’ Laboratories of Chicago will be opening a new test facility at Guildford. The facility has already taken on inspection work formerly contracted out to BSI.

Don Mader, senior vice-president of UL, which turns over $400m (£250m) annually, told The Engineer he expected UL to make considerable headway in Britain.

‘The business available to UL in Britain is almost limitless,’ he said. ‘The market here is so strong it could support further operations. We will weave ourselves into the fabric of the local UK certification market.’

UL’s venture into Britain follows the growth in the past two years of German rival, TuV Product Services, which will be wholly owned by the TuV Suddeutschland at the end of this year.

The growing competition to the BSI reflects the trend among multinationals to seek a single partner to carry out systems assessment or product certification anywhere in the world.

It has also provided the impetus for BSI’s change of status which is intended to help it raise finance to help it grow into a global company.