Pioneering Protocols

April 23, 2010

About the author: Ellen Van Buren is senior business development manager for NSF Intl. Van Buren can be reached at 734.827.3822 or by e-mail at [email protected].


In today’s competitive business environment, innovative new products are continually being developed. In some cases, product innovations outpace the standards or regulations required for product acceptance, leaving manufacturers with an excellent product, but an unreceptive marketplace.

Certification to a consensus standard or protocol can be instrumental in demonstrating product quality, securing regulatory approval, reducing product liability and opening new markets and sales opportunities.

In situations where a product performance claim falls outside of the scope of an NSF or other ANSI-accredited standard, NSF Intl. can work with a product manufacturer to develop a protocol specific to the product category or performance claim.

Companies like Dyson, Whirlpool, Kimberly-Clark, 3M, Frigidaire and Procter & Gamble have all worked with NSF to develop protocols to help them differentiate their innovative products and open new markets. By creating customized testing criteria and validating performance and product claims, protocol certification gives innovative products a mark of approval that is sure to turn heads in the market.

Protocol Development Process

The protocol development process follows an approach to certification much like traditional NSF standards. The protocol is developed collaboratively by an expert technical panel of approximately five to 12 members, including the product manufacturer, public health professionals, regulators, academicians, end-users and NSF. The technical panel, which is smaller in size than an NSF Standards Joint Committee, can often achieve consensus more quickly in the protocol development process than with standards development.

Once the protocol is finalized, the sponsoring manufacturer tests to the protocol, after which the document would be made public and available for certification to other manufacturers. Products NSF certified to a protocol are authorized to bear the NSF Mark and must meet ongoing certification monitoring requirements.

Airblade Hand Dryer

When the U.K.’s Dyson, Ltd., began development of the Airblade commercial hand dryer, they identified several innovations they wished to incorporate into the design to set it apart from traditional warm air hand dryers. Traditional warm air hand dryers suck in dirty restroom air, heat it up and blow it back onto a user’s hands, leaving hands damp and more prone to spread bacteria.

The engineers and scientists at Dyson first sought to design a hand dryer that would completely dry a user’s hands quickly, in 12 seconds or less, using unheated air because warm or hot air can remove beneficial oils from the skin, and warming moist bacteria can increase their reproduction rate.

Dyson also incorporated a HEPA filter into the Airblade hand dryer, which removes more than 99.9% of the bacteria from the air used to dry hands. They also observed that touching an activation button to start a hand dryer could spread germs, so they made sure the activation process included touch-free sensors rather than push-button technology.

While the first prototype units were being built, Dyson contacted NSF to develop a protocol designed to provide a means for independent, third-party testing and evaluation of commercial hand dryers for hygiene-related performance claims. Scientists and engineers at NSF and Dyson collaborated with a technical panel of academicians and a public health regulator to identify the safety and hygiene concerns associated with commercial hand dryers.

The technical panel identified several elements that would need to be evaluated during certification testing. A HEPA filter standard was incorporated into the protocol to ensure the filter and seals functioned according to specification, and to ensure the design of the unit would not allow an unacceptable volume of unfiltered air to be drawn in to the unit between the motor and filter. Air temperature considerations were incorporated to ensure that a hand dryer did not use excessively hot air. Noise considerations were added to verify that the machine was not louder than allowable safety levels. Design elements were added to ensure that the machine could be operated hands-free and that it could be cleaned easily. Finally, a hand drying test was developed in which a test group of men and women would use the hand dryer for the manufacturer-specified dry time, and their hands would be tested for residual moisture content to ensure they were sufficiently dry.

The Dyson Airblade met the criteria established in NSF Protocol P335: Hygienic Commercial Hand Dryers, and announced the certification of the Dyson Airblade in conjunction with their North American product launch.

To date, NSF has developed more than 25 protocols covering a wide range of products, including microbiological water purifiers, washers and dryers, and rainwater catchment systems; and has certified more than 800 different products to NSF protocols. Each year, new protocols are developed covering the unique and innovative new products brought to market to ensure they are effective and safe.

Download: Here

Sponsored Recommendations

ArmorBlock 5000: Boost Automation Efficiency

April 25, 2024
Discover the transformative benefits of leveraging a scalable On-Machine I/O to improve flexibility, enhance reliability and streamline operations.

Rising Cyber Threats and the Impact on Risk and Resiliency Operations

April 25, 2024
The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

State of Smart Manufacturing Report Series

April 25, 2024
The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

SmartSights WIN-911 Alarm Notification Software Enables Faster Response

March 15, 2024
Alarm notification software enables faster response for customers, keeping production on track