Are you sure of quality? Check out the FM quality mark.

FM Approved

FM Approvals is one of the highest possible quality marks for risk reduction and damage prevention. It is issued by one of the biggest insurers world-wide in the industry: FM Global. This is how it works and what good their quality mark does.

What is FM Approvals?

FM Approvals is the quality mark issued by FM Global for products that comply with the high demands FM Global makes. One of the requirements for taking out an insurance with FM Global is that the materials used for a building to be insured are FM Approved.

As one of the major property and real estate insurers in the world they want to have the certainty that anything they insure is of the highest possible quality. As a result, they reduce the chance of damage and eventually the chance of having to pay damages. This does not only increase the quality, but it also reduces the premium for the owners of premises. Not surprisingly, FM is winning ground on a global scale.

Constructing a building with FM Approved products is therefore favourable for the owner as well as for the insurer. These products are thoroughly tested by FM Approvals for construction safety, fire, wind load, etc.

Mark Peeters, Manager Business Development at Guardian: “The standards for these tests are often based on existing tests and methods, and FM Approvals adds a little extra.”

How does this test work?

To get a product FM Approved, we need to go to the United States, for the inspection tests are to be performed by FM Approvals exclusively in its own laboratories. For us, this is the location in Boston, where they have their wind laboratory.

There, the mechanical fasteners (manufactured by us), synthetic membranes and roof insulation (from other manufacturers) are tested in a system structure by FM Approvals and us together.

We send them the materials, we build the tests, and then we check the products on site, in cooperation with FM Approvals. This is one of the conditions FM Global has set to be able to guarantee the quality measured.

Once a product has passed the FM Approvals test, it is entitled to be called FM Approved, which is evidenced by the quality mark: the letters ‘FM’ in a diamond printed on the product or on the label of the pack.

Monitored quality at all times

Receiving the FM quality mark and certificate, however, is only a first step. Retaining the quality mark is the second step. This means that the quality of an FM Approved product has to be monitored. This is done by means of audits.

FM Approvals subjects our assortment to a comprehensive audit twice a year, in addition to all regular audits and other audits. This is the next requirement set by FM Approvals, which has to be met to gain permission to use their quality mark; it is a guarantee of continuous quality.

When an audit takes place, we are visited by an FM official, who goes through all processes, from factory conditions to drawings, which need to be unchanged, and materials, which need to be in a proper condition. The entire production process is scrutinised, so that we can rest assured that FM Approved products are really of the highest quality possible at all times, regardless of when the initial tests took place.

It is partly because of this aspect that every adjustment to an FM Approved product has to be applied for to FM Approvals by means of a change request. Mark Peeters: “If we want to change the colour, make a product stronger, or use a different material, we will have to report this to them. FM will then decide if this is all right and whether a new test round is necessary.”

Why go to such lengths?

To be allowed to use the quality mark on our product, we need to invest a great deal of time, energy and money. The production process is followed by the application and test rounds, which can take weeks or even months. By that time, we have invested several thousands of dollars in building the test(s), travelling to the US, and paying the FM institute and the certificates. Add to this the costs of the six-monthly audits.

Why do we think it is all worth the trouble? In the first place, because the quality level of this certificate is among the highest attainable, and of course we want to use the best products for our roofs. Additionally, many tenants and owners set great store by having their premises insured with FM Global, which is a leading organisation in non-life insurance.

In most cases, these are American companies, as they are familiar with FM Global. In Europe, the requirement of having to work with FM Approved products – to be allowed to take out the FM insurance – is currently only found in projects for American companies.

In addition, the number of European projects – often large-scale, prestigious projects – that opt for the high quality of FM Approved products, is increasing. If they can invest in this extra certainty, more and more developers and owners will do so.

Although this percentage is growing, it is currently still relatively small. Mark Peeters: “Of the 2,000 calculations we do per year in conformity with EU regulations, there are some 40 to 60 where the client wants to have the little extra of FM Approvals.”

We do believe there is much potential growth in the quality mark. More advisors, architects and engineers, however, will have to know about it, and owners have to be prepared to invest in this. If they do, they will have the certainty of benefiting from the best damage prevention possible with a minimum risk for their premises.