National Technical Systems Inc. of Calabasas has been chosen by a national standards group as its exclusive testing and certification lab partner.

The group, the USNAP Alliance, is working on developing standards that would allow major consumer appliances such as washing machines, water heaters, programmable thermostats and pool pumps to communicate with a smart electric grid.

The latest version of the standard has been designed to allow manufacturers to move forward with the development and release of smart appliances without being locked into any particular communications standard.

NTS provides testing and engineering services to the aerospace, defense, telecommunications, automotive and high technology markets. In addition to certification testing, NTS will also develop a test tool to assist in the development and certification testing of USNAP certified products that comply with a certain modular communications interface standard. Official certification testing is scheduled to begin in about six months.

"NTS's track record in testing and certification, as well as developing test tools, is well recognized in the Smart Grid and Smart Energy arenas," Rolf Bienert, technical director of the USNAP Alliance, said in a prepared statement. "NTS has the skills, capabilities, and experience that the USNAP Alliance was seeking when selecting a test and compliance partner."

Upon the completion and validation of the test specification, NTS will offer testing and certification services for manufacturers certifying products that want to conform to the standard. NTS will concurrently develop a custom test tool that manufacturers can purchase from NTS and the USNAP Alliance enabling the manufacturers to test their products during the development phase to help speed certification and ensure compliance.

"NTS has worked extensively and built valuable relationships with manufacturers and utilities over the past several years in the Smart Energy and Smart Grid markets," NTS CEO William McGinnis said in a statement. "The addition of the USNAP certification program to our capabilities is yet another example of our commitment to the rapidly expanding energy market."

"For the last several years, the focus of our work with manufacturers has been on the development of smart energy products with wireless communications," added Osman Sakr, NTS chief technology officer. "The USNAP certification program will allow manufacturers to move forward with their product development without having to wait out 'standards wars' as is often the case with new technologies. NTS is looking forward to working with the USNAP Alliance and member companies in providing high-quality compliance and certification services."

Judy Temes