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IECEx: a view from the chair (8)

01 October 2015

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Arnhold, the chairman of IECEx, gives his insight on developments within the organisation and the wider world of explosion protection. This month, he discusses preparations for important meetings in Taiwan and New Zealand. The former is keen to improve regulations for hazardous areas following a number of fatal explosion incidents, including the pool party powder explosion outside Taipei that killed twelve and injured more than 500

While writing this, I am in the middle of the final preparations for my next trip around the world. Before I go to the 2015 annual meeting of the IECEx Management Committee in Christchurch, New Zealand, I will go to Taipei, Taiwan, to join an international conference on certification programs for hazardous areas. 

The Taiwanese government is interested in the implementations of elements of the IECEx system in the country and invited experts from different regions of the world to share their experiences with the accreditation of certification bodies and certification of products, competences and services.

In the light of two big explosion disasters affecting the country over the last two years, the series of gas explosions in the Cianjhen and Lingya district of Kaohsing in 2014 and the explosion of decorative coloured powder at a pool party outside Taipei this year, there seems to be a need for improvement of the regulations for hazardous areas. With the support of the IECEx National Committee of the Peoples Republic of China, there should be a way to integrate Taiwan in the IECEx community.

Working Party 6 of UNECE is tasked with providing a regulatory blueprint for countries wanting to improve their national explosion protection system. The document ‘A common Regulatory Framework for Equipment Used in Environments with an Explosive Atmosphere’ is available for download from the UNECE homepage in different languages. From the very beginning of this project there has been close cooperation between WP 6 of UNECE and the IECEx system. It was a significant moment when UNECE officially endorsed IECEx two years ago, and recognition of the importance of our work.

But back to my trip: After Taiwan I will go to New Zealand to chair our annual Management Committee Meeting. As in previous years, we have some very important issues on the agenda.

1.  We want to harmonise the basic rules of the four conformity assessment systems - besides IECEx there are the IECEE system dealing with general tests of electrical equipment, the IECQ system dealing with the surveillance of quality inside the supply chain for electronic components and the IECRE system dealing with the test of renewable energy equipment - but we also want to keep the efficiency and flexibility of the IECEx System.

2.  A very important issue is the establishment of a new internal committee to govern the IECEx Service Facility Scheme. During the last three years we have expanded this scheme significantly, and it is now possible to offer certificates to service providers for selection and planning of equipment, for installation and for inspection and maintenance. The certification of repair facilities for explosion protected products such as motors has existed for many years and is well established.

Until now the development of the Scheme has been governed by a Working Group, but new elements make it necessary to implement a new organisational structure. The success of the Personal Competence Certification Scheme only came about when we implemented a permanent and professional management system, and this will be the model.

3.  Another important issue for the Christchurch meeting will be the implementation of the Recognised Training Provider Program (RTPP).Customers who want to select competent training partners for their employees are now getting valuable support from the IECEx system. Experienced IECEx specialists are evaluating the required documents of the candidate training organisation containing issues such as the description of the quality management system, the qualification and experience of the trainers, the quality of the training materials etc.

If the IECEx inspectors come to the conclusion that the candidate is fulfilling the requirements of the respective operational document, the name, logo and other details is put on the IECEx homepage (column ‘information’ – Recognised Training Providers). Meanwhile the first four RTPs are to be found there and the next batch of candidates await confirmation. I am quite sure that the RTP Program will become the next success story of IECEx.

After Christchurch we won`t have too much time to relax since we have to start preparing for the 2016 IECEx regional promotion conference in Delhi, India. This event, and a report about the outcomes of the New Zealand MC meeting, will be the topics of my next column.


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