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IECEx: a view from the chair (9)

01 December 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 the 2015 IECEx Management Committee Meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The 2015 IECEx Management Committee Meeting took place in Christchurch
The 2015 IECEx Management Committee Meeting took place in Christchurch

During my six weeks in New Zealand I became a passionate fan of rugby union, culminating in the ‘All Blacks’ glorious victory! But this was not the only positive result of my long trip to the other end of the world - the IECEx Management Committee Meeting (ExMC) was definitely another highlight. Our hosts from Standards New Zealand did a great job and provided perfect organisation for the event.

This year more than 100 delegates from 31 countries joined the series of meetings during the second week in September. A very positive fact was the strong participation of industry: more than 30% of the participants had an industrial background.

As usual the week started with meetings of TAG, the organisation of all IECEx Test Labs and Certification Bodies. It was the first time Prof. Xu of NEPSI China took the chair, stepping into the shoes of Ron Sinclair MBE of SGS Baseefa in the UK, who has done excellent work in this role over the years.

Among other things the following important issues have been discussed the following issues were discussed:
•  The use of documents other than standards as the basis for certification of equipment. It was recommended to ExMC to review the current IECEx rules to allow the use of any publication of TC31 such as Technical Specifications (TS) for that purpose.
•  The preparation of the next round of Ex proficiency test dealing with the electrostatic charge test.
•  The new decision sheets, developed by Ex TAG and published on the IECEx homepage. The intension of these documents is to provide a uniform interpretation of the TC31 standards.
The Ex TAG meeting was accompanied by a training workshop for IECEx assessors, another standard item of our annual meetings. The assessors are very important individuals within the organisation, ensuring the highest quality for Ex Certification Bodies and Ex Test labs. It is essential that all assessors have a high and uniform level of competence to make the right decisions.

Finally, the highlight of the week was the IECEx Management Committee. The importance of our organisation inside the IEC community was underlined by the fact that both the immediate past Chairman of IEC, Prof. Klaus Wucherer and the acting Vice Chair of IEC and Chair of the Conformity assessment board (CAB), Dr. Ullrich Spindler, came all the way to New Zealand to join our meeting.

Some highlights of this event were:
•  The first time participation of our 33th member country, Israel, and the endorsement of the first Certification body and Ex Test Lab of this country, ITL.
•  The appointment of a new Chairman of the Ex PCC committee dealing with the certification of personal competencies. The membership elected Peter Thurnherr from Switzerland to become the new chairman. For many years Peter has been the convenor of the Maintenance Team for IEC 60079 – 14 (selection and installation) and with his election, we should achieve a good combination of the standardisation and the certification of people who have to follow the standard specification.
•  The long-time Chairman of that committee, Ralph Wigg from Australia, remains the Deputy Chairman. For his outstanding contribution to the success of the IECEx System, the ExMC proposed to the IEC Executive that he be awarded the 2015 Edison Award.
•  The new committee for the Ex-Service facility scheme (Ex SFC) also got a new chairman in the shape of Ron Sinclair. The Deputy Chairman will be Marco Erdhuizen from the Netherlands.
•  The role of the Executive group was defined. This group, consisting of officers of the system such as the chairman, the secretary, and the chairmen of the different schemes, is responsible for all important matters and necessary decisions between the ExMCs. A very important issue for the coming months will be a survey how strictly the IECEx rules are followed in the certain member countries.

Another task for the Executive group will be the organisation of the next IECEx regional promotion conference. In April 2016 it will take place in New Delhi, India, a decision that pays respect to the very impressive development of the Indian process industry. We have noticed a steadily growing demand for IECEx certificates in India and want to support this process. As usual, a number of excellent experts will give presentations about different aspects of explosion protection and there will be sufficient time for detailed discussions on many topics.

The details of the conference will be published soon on our IECEx webside. (

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