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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FPRDI’s Furniture Testing Center helps local exporters

FFTC staff conduct combined seat and back fatigue (left) and back static load tests (right) on some of furniture pieces manufactured by Kenneth Cobonpue’s Interior Crafts of the Islands, Inc. Hollywood stars Robert de Niro, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are among Cobonpue’s clients.
In today’s global economy, exporters need to do everything they can to make sure their products meet world standards of quality. In the furniture sector, local manufacturers can do this more easily with help from a furniture testing center operated by the Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI).

The FPRDI Furniture Testing Center (FFTC) was established with funding support from the DOST Grants-In-Aid and the International Tropical Timber Organization. It became the sole furniture testing facility in the country after the closure of the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) testing laboratory and the transfer of the testing center of Bureau Veritas to China.

“The FFTC enables manufacturers to improve the quality and design of their furniture using various tests,” said Mr. Victor Revilleza, FFTC’s Technical Manager. These tests are done using the Center’s state-of-the-art testing facilities which will be beefed up by a £70,000-transit testing equipment (approx. $95,385) to be delivered by the end of this year. “With improved quality and design, manufacturers are better able to compete with other exporting countries,” Revilleza added.

Coming from both public and private sectors, FFTC’s clients average 60-80 a year. Renowned Cebu-based furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, who has captivated the world with his functional and stylish designs, had some of his furniture pieces tested at the Center prior to exporting abroad.

FFTC subjects chairs, tables, desks, beds, and storage cabinets to different kinds of performance tests which include: static test that determines the maximum load a furniture can support; fatigue test that evaluates how long a furniture will last under normal use; impact test that appraises the furniture’s ability to withstand sudden impact; and stability test that assesses the furniture’s balance when applied with load in different directions.

Through the use of loads, the tests simulate the normal functional use of furniture. The FFTC conforms to local and international test standards such as PNS, ISO, BS, EN, ASTM, ANSI/BIFMA, CINMAR, PIER 1, Crate & Barrel, PALACEK and other test protocols.

In the Philippines, a mandatory standard is set by the Department of Trade and Industry’s BPS requiring all monobloc furniture to undergo testing before they can be certified with Philippine Standard Quality and Safety, and Import Commodity Clearance Marks. These certification marks issued by the BPS allow manufacturers to sell their products in local and international markets with assured safety and quality.

All furniture set for bidding in some government agencies such as the Departments of Education, and Budget and Management need test reports as well.

Revilleza concluded, “We are envisioning the FFTC to be a one-stop-shop furniture testing laboratory by 2015. We are currently working on establishing flammability and transit testing laboratories, and acquiring lead content and corrosion test equipment to complete our services.”

FPRDI is based at Narra Road, College of Forestry and Natural Resources campus, UP Los Banos, College, Laguna. Apple Jean C. Martin, DOST

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