The Carpet and Rug Institute's (CRI) Seal of Approval (SOA) program has "gone international," company officials announced, after Scandinavian-based manufacturer Ångtvättbilen AB began participating in CRI's rigorous testing program for carpet cleaning products and equipment.
Ångtvättbilen AB, a manufacturer of carpet extractors sold exclusively in Sweden and Norway, submitted one of their machines for SOA certification testing last fall, and it has earned gold status, signifying superior performance in soil removal, water removal, and texture retention.
"This is the first foreign-based manufacturer to submit a product to be judged by CRI's highly-regarded SOA program," comments Werner Braun, President of CRI.
"As we are the only carpet trade association to have a testing program for carpet cleaning equipment, it is gratifying and exciting to now have international participation."
In 2005, CRI began its testing program on carpet cleaning equipment, including carpet extractors, which are powerful machines that use cleaning solutions to deep clean carpets.
CRI sends numerous types of carpet-related products, such as vacuum cleaners and carpet extractors, to be evaluated for effectiveness by an independent testing facility. Those products which meet or exceed the stringent requirements can earn bronze, silver, gold, or, in the case of systems or extractors, platinum rating.
Testing is rigorous, Braun says, noting that in the case of Ångtvättbilen AB, the testing laboratory had to purchase special equipment that could perform testing on the European company's extractors, which operate on a different voltage system than we use in the United States.
When testing any extractor, the SOA program uses NASA-developed x-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology to measure the precise amount of soil removed from the carpet.
Other criteria that must be met in order to earn SOA certification include the extractor's ability to remove a high percentage of moisture from the carpet following a wet cleaning process and the extractor's ability to preserve the carpet's texture and appearance.
"With the addition of Ångtvättbilen AB, we have now awarded bronze, silver, or gold certification to 91 carpet extractors through the SOA program," says CRI's Director of Standards and Specifications Pat Jennings, noting that these machines are produced by 32 manufacturers, and are all meant to be used in the U.S., except for the Ångtvättbilen AB extractor.
Ångtvättbilen AB management decided to have their carpet extractor evaluated by CRI because they wanted an "objective opinion" on the quality of their product and how competitive it would be in the international market, according to Jens Wilsgaard, who oversees Quality/Environmental Services for the Swedish-based company.
"We decided to ship one of our machines over to the United States for evaluation," says Wilsgaard, "because we knew that the Carpet and Rug Institute is the main evaluator for carpet cleaning in the world.
"Having earned the 'Best in Test' certification helps us, of course, recruit clients who will then hire Ångtvättbilen AB for carpet cleaning," he adds.
On CRI's part, officials say they are delighted to have the SOA program recognized as having "international value."
"We say Valkommen to this Swedish company, and, while the SOA program exists to support U.S. carpet users, CRI would welcome any manufacturer from anywhere in the world to send their carpet-related products to be tested by CRI's program," says Braun. "They cannot help but receive a higher level of recognition and credibility from earning SOA certification."