March 15, 2013

Werner Braun: CRI goes international

— The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) is proud to announce that it has gone global.

It started back in the fall when Angtvattbilen, a manufacturer of carpet extractors sold exclusively in Sweden and Norway, decided to submit one of their machines to CRI to undergo its highly-respected Seal of Approval (SOA) certification testing.

Angtvattbilen’s management decided to have their carpet extractor evaluated by CRI because they wanted an “objective opinion” on the quality of their product and they wanted to be able to gauge how competitive their machine would be in the international market.

Jens Wilsgaard, who oversees quality/environmental services for the Swedish-based company, says that his company decided to ship one of its machines over to the United States for evaluation “because we knew that the Carpet and Rug Institute is the main evaluator for carpet cleaning in the world.”

Perhaps it’s time for a little history here. Since 2005, CRI has sent carpet cleaning solutions, vacuums, carpet extractors and other carpet-related products to be evaluated by an independent laboratory testing service in order to rate the effectiveness of each product. Those products that meet or exceed the stringent requirements can earn bronze, silver, gold, or, in the case of systems or extractors, platinum medals.

Extractors are powerful machines that use water and cleaning solutions to deep clean carpets. We have awarded certification to 91 carpet extractors through the SOA program, and these machines have been produced by 32 manufacturers, all American-based companies except for the latest one, Angtvattbilen.

The testing to earn bronze, silver, gold or platinum medals is rigorous. To date, the highest level attained by an extractor is gold level, and that’s the level that Angtvattbilen achieved when tested by our independent lab.

Those machines are evaluated using a NASA-developed X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology to measure the precise amount of soil removed from the carpet.

Also, in order to meet SOA program certification, an extractor must be able to remove a high percentage of moisture from the carpet following a wet cleaning process while also preserving the carpet’s original texture and appearance.

This whole process for Angtvattbilen was no easy feat. For one thing, the Swedes operate on a different voltage system than we use in the United States so the testing laboratory had to purchase special equipment that could perform testing on the European company’s 380-watt extractors.

The process that began with shipping the machine and ended with completing the in-depth testing took several months, but the results were pleasing to all involved.

Angtvattbilen’s gold medal rating, second only to the platinum level, is a huge accomplishment for a company that wasn’t mandated, or even expected, to meet CRI’s stringent standards.

Company manager Wilsgaard, who says they are delighted by the outcome, adds, “Having earned the ‘Best in Test’ certification helps us, of course, recruit clients who will then hire Angtvattbilen for carpet cleaning.”

For us at CRI, this is significant because it’s the first foreign-based manufacturer to submit a product to be judged by the SOA program.

We’re thrilled to now have international participation. And we expect that Angtvattbilen will end up being the first of many foreign manufacturers who will seek SOA certification status in the near future.

We extend a hearty Valkommen to this Swedish company, and we invite manufacturers from all over the world to send their carpet-related products to be tested by CRI’s program. They cannot help but benefit from earning SOA certification.

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.