The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on September 8, 2021, that it will revise the operational guidelines for the Electrical Appliance and Consumer Products Safety Control Act. Until now, only finished electrical appliances could be certified, and there were restrictions on releasing modular products on the market, but the revision of the operational guidelines this time will allow the future release of modular home appliances that can be configured and modified to meet the needs of consumers. A typical example of a modular product is a “modular water purifier” that can combine water purification, hot water, and hot/cold water functions at the customer’s choice. In order to release this product, a temporary permit had to be obtained, but the government has announced that the safety certification system for electrical appliances will be improved to allow companies to launch various modular products.
The KATS plans to stipulate the definition, safety certification methods, and labeling methods of modular products in the operational guidelines for the Act. As a first step, the concept of modules was defined in the draft amendment to the operational guidelines of the Act, and modular products were included in the scope of the safety certification system for electrical appliances.
*The term “module” refers to a partial product that can be combined with a modular product to add or change functions, unlike an integrated product.
When a safety certification is obtained for each model with a combination of modules, both “the product whose modules are configured by the consumer’s choice” and “the product whose functions are changed by adding or separating modules while (the product is) in use” are defined as having obtained a safety certification. This allows consumers to freely configure and purchase products, and to easily change the functions of products even when the product is already in use. Furthermore, by labeling the safety certification items on the module, it will be possible to display safety certification items on each appliance whose parts have been changed by adding or separating modules.
By revising the existing regulations, which are based on the stereotype that a finished product of a certain standard must be manufactured and sold as a single unit, the development and release of modular products that meet consumer needs will be promoted. Since products can be easily upgraded by combining modules, there will be no need for unnecessary product replacement, which will bring economic and environmental benefits.
Case example: Company A’s Modular water purifiers
- Consumers purchase the product by selecting and combining modules.
- When a consumer purchases a water purifier (model A), it can be used as a cold water dispenser (model B) or a hot/cold water dispenser (model C) by combining additional modules even while the product is in use.
|Water filter module||Basic water filter|
|Model A (water purifier)||Basic water filter + Water purifier module|
|Model B (cold water dispenser)||Basic water filter + Water purifier module + Cold water module|
|Model C (hot/cold water dispenser)||Basic water filter + Water purifier module + Hot/cold water module|
The original text of this article is available at the following URL (in Korean).
The Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Management Act (Act No. 15338)