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On the French Riviera

Author : RON SINCLAIR MBE, SGS BASEEFA Technical Manager amd IECEx committee chairman

25 October 2018

IECEx met at Mandelieu, just outside Cannes, in September, for the annual meetings of ExTAG and ExMC.  I will restrict my notes to the ExTAG meeting, where the various Certification Bodies and Testing Laboratories in the system get together to agree technical policy.

Ron Sinclair MBE
Ron Sinclair MBE

For a few years, we have routinely started the ExTAG meetings with a training session, where topical subjects can be discussed in more depth.

This year we learnt some of the developments coming in the IECEx on-line certificate database.  Over the next year, the system will be migrated to a more modern and stable IT platform, which will make the addition of further facilities easier.  The current platform has served well, but cannot deliver all the improvements planned for the future, which will make the drafting and management of certificates and reports easier for certification bodies, and more user friendly for manufacturers and purchasers of equipment.

I delivered a session on the calibration of the humidity chambers used to simulate ageing of plastic and elastomeric materials.  Because of the interrelationship between temperature and relative humidity, particularly as the temperature approaches the boiling point of water, it is very difficult to maintain conditions within the permitted tolerance on RH unless the temperature is controlled to closer tolerances than permitted by IEC 60079-0.  At 95°C, a 1K change in temperature can result in a 4% change in RH, assuming a constant amount of water in the air.

The new standard IEC 62784 for Vacuum cleaners and dust extractors EPL Dc is being revised to allow conformity with the industrial requirements to be “self-declared”.  (This aligns with the policy adopted in IEC 60079-0.)  It will then be moved to the jurisdiction of IEC TC31 and can be used for IECEx Certification of the explosion protection aspects.  CEN is also working on a related standard for European use, but with a wider scope.

We approved in principle a new edition of Operational Document OD 017.  This should be available at about the time this appears in print and extends the scope of the useful guide on preparation of certification documentation to include items related to non-electrical equipment.  All Operational documents are freely available at and provide very useful information to manufacturers and purchasers of equipment, as well as certification bodies.

We received a report from PTB about the Proficiency Testing Programme that they supervise for IECEx.  All IECEx testing laboratories have gained useful insights as a result of participation in the actual testing and in the subsequent workshops.  Currently the 2017/2018 round is nearing completion, comprising:
* Explosion Pressure Determination of an Ex d enclosure at low ambient temperatures (an area where different laboratories have, historically, used different test methods)
* Purging times for a specially constructed Ex p enclosure with added baffles to make it difficult to clear the test gases

We discussed the certification of Assemblies of Ex Equipment.  Currently two methods are available: IECEx ExTAG Decision Sheet DS 2015/001A which was introduced as an interim measure; and IEC/TS 60079-46 which was published last year.  It was agreed that issue of certificates to the Decision Sheet would not be permitted after 1 January 2020, leaving only the IEC Technical Specification available.  As a TS, this document will be reviewed before three years from publication, with the option of conversion to a full standard.

We discussed draft Decision Sheets – the method whereby the ExTAG group can formulate and promulgate technical policy.  The relevant standard Maintenance Teams always have an opportunity to make an input, to check that IECEx is not deviating from the intent of the standard.

We accepted five draft DS for publication, noted two that were unacceptable and noted six that were out for further circulation to the members of ExTAG for additional comments.

We look forward to the next meeting of ExTAG which will be held in conjunction with the Management Committee meeting in The UAE in September 2019.

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