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New standards for Non-Electrical Equipment

22 February 2016

SGS Baseefa Technical Manager Ron Sinclair MBE, chairman of BSI Committee EXL/31, Cenelec TC31 and the IECEx Service Facility Certification Committee, looks at the work of International Standards Committee SC31M which is relevant to manufacturers of non-electrical equipment and which will affect both ATEX and IECEx certification.

In this article I will concentrate on a parallel development which is relevant to manufacturers of non-electrical equipment, and affects both ATEX and IECEx certification.  Over the last few years the International Standards Committee SC31M has been very busy preparing two standards that have international acceptance, and will replace the European-only standards in the EN 13463 series.

Because of the need to avoid conflicting requirements between electrical and non-electrical equipment, ISO and IEC agreed that we should have an ISO sub-committee (SC31M) working under the general guidance of the IEC committee (TC31).  Although at the purely European level (standards committees CEN TC305 and CENELEC TC31) there had been some cooperation, we had ended up with a number of unnecessary differences, for example those related to electrostatic discharge prevention.

Thus the new standards will be dual-badged, that is both ISO and IEC, but will have an ISO number in the same basic series as the electrical standards.  The 80… prefix, rather than the 60… prefix indicates a dual-badged standard.

ISO 80079-36 (General requirements for Non-Electrical Equipment and Ignition Hazard Determination) relies heavily on references to IEC 60079-0 (where the term “electrical” has been dropped from most of the requirements in the recent edition) and will replace EN 13463-1.
ISO 80079-37 (Specific Requirements for Ignition Protection Types “Constructional Safety”, “Control of Ignition Sources” and “Liquid Immersion”) replaces EN 13463 parts 5, 6 and 8.
Currently there is no plan to include the equivalent of EN 13463-2 (“Flow Restriction”) and for both Flameproof and Pressurisation, there is now direct reference to the electrical standards IEC 60079-1 and IEC 60079-2, rather than having separate standards for non-electrical equipment.

The new documents are based on the original EN 13463 requirements but, in ensuring compatibility and to generally bring things to the “state of the art”, there are a few detailed changes that manufacturers will have to take into account. 

Perhaps the most noticeable is that the individual protection codes “c”, “b” and “k” will disappear, all to be replaced with “Ex h”.  This code will also apply to equipment complying only with part 36, whereas there was previously no code applicable to equipment complying only with EN 13463-1. 

The EPL designations that we are now familiar with for electrical equipment will also apply to non-electrical equipment.  Thus an item of constructional safety equipment protected for installation in Zone 1 will now have a code, for example, Ex h IIC T4 Gb as well as the ATEX code {Ex} II 2G.  (Editorial note: please replace {Ex} with the hexagon Ex symbol.)

I have been absolutely positive in my statements about the new standards, but I am conscious that the result of the international vote for acceptance will occur between the date of writing this column, and the date by which I expect you will be reading it. 

The last time we reached this stage in the vote there was a hiatus, with positive votes in IEC and CEN, but a negative vote in ISO.  This time, the national committees are being briefed to make sure that they all vote in all three ballots.  The negative result in ISO was mainly caused by countries voting positively in IEC and CEN, but forgetting to register a vote in ISO.  Sufficient unregistered votes could therefore cause a defeat.

So how will this affect manufacturers?

I have two items of good news. The immediate good news is that there is likely to be the standard three-year overlap between the old and the new standards for ATEX harmonisation purposes.  Therefore the EN 13463 standards should still be valid until sometime in 2019.

And the additional good news is that these new standards are to be incorporated into the scope of the international IECEx Equipment Certification Scheme.  Thus internationally-recognised certification will become available for the first time for non-electrical equipment.

This becomes particularly relevant for assemblers of equipment such as complete systems on skids.  Up until now, a purchaser requirement for IECEx certification could only be met for the electrical parts.  In the future, the assembly certificate will be able to cover the complete assembly, including the possible risks of ignition from the non-electrical items.

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