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IECEx certification for multi-component integrated products

09 May 2013

Specialist Services Group (SSG), an engineering and manufacturing company providing modular buildings to the oil & gas industry for both onshore and offshore applications, has announced that it has successfully achieved IECEx Certification for its Zone 1 purged and pressurised building product line.

Specialist Services Group says this is the first time that an integrated product - a purged and pressurised building containing 35 IECEx components - has been issued an IECEx Certificate of Conformity
Specialist Services Group says this is the first time that an integrated product - a purged and pressurised building containing 35 IECEx components - has been issued an IECEx Certificate of Conformity

The Abu Dhabi-based company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of high-quality modular enclosures built to comply with the stringent codes and standards to protect people and equipment in the harsh and hazardous operating environments typical of the upstream energy sector. 

The IECEx standard facilitates the international trade of equipment used in explosive atmospheres, while maintaining standardised levels of safety. IECEx certificates are typically issued for individual components, and SSG says this is the first time that an integrated product - a purged and pressurised building containing 35 IECEx components - has been issued a Certificate of Conformity. 

Paul White, Specialist Services Engineering Manager, said: “IECEx certification is the latest internationally accepted level of engineering and manufacturing quality and safety. Obtaining IECEx certification further solidifies our aim to be a pioneer in introducing international codes and standards within manufacturing facilities in this region.

“In February 2013 our first IECEx-compliant buildings, two Zone 1 A60 surface logging laboratory units - built in compliance with ATEX, IECEx and DNV 2.7-2 certifications, were deployed to the Gulf of Mexico for one of our key customers in the US. ”

Achieving IECEx certification was a challenge, despite the company’s experience over 10 years supplying pressurised buildings to ATEX standards.

From an ‘application of standard’ perspective for the product it was a simple process, but having to involve an Ex Certification Body (ExCB) for Zone 2 made it a lengthy process. The company chose to focus on the Zone 1 product first, and then reverse engineer towards a Zone 2 solution.

“The biggest challenge was ensuring that our existing ATEX Zone 1 certification was not lost through the attainment of IECEx certification,” White said. “This required a detailed gap analysis between the standards used in our ATEX certification (BS EN 50381) and IEC 60079-13. There were some minor differences in methodology and operational logic, but primarily it came down to sourcing and selecting components which carried dual ATEX / IECEx certification. Due to the mature nature of the ATEX approval scheme world-wide, Specialist Services managed to select all 35 individual Ex components with existing dual certification without needing to involve our ExCB – Intertek - with any product assessment work. However it did require some trade-offs on selecting 3-phase motors over the usual single phase motors.

“Coupled with the technical aspect, our quality system also required enhancement to cover both EN 13980 (Potentially Explosive Atmospheres - Application of Quality System) and ISO IEC 80079-34 (Explosive atmospheres – Part 34 Application of quality systems for equipment manufacturer). This was achieved very quickly due to the existing maturity of our quality system in this product range.” 

Following the IECEx certification, Specialist Services is now in the final stages of certifying a purged and pressurised building with the US Coast Guard (USCG).

The USCG currently does not recognise ATEX in any form and accepts IECEx certification when using protection types ‘d’, ‘p’ (‘Enclosure’), ‘q’, ‘o’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘n’ and ‘m’, but not ‘p’ when used as a ‘Room’. The protection by ‘Enclosure’ standard (60079-2) does not lend itself to a manned building and hence cannot be used. The current standard incorporated by the USCG for manned buildings is NFPA 496 (Standard for Purged and Pressurised Enclosures for Electrical Equipment), alongside the US Codes of Federal Regulation (CFR). 

The CFRs apply specifically to American specifications, approvals and components, and therefore Specialist Services had to apply international harmonised codes very carefully. 

Once the USCG approval is complete, Specialist Services will be able to offer its clients one single solution with ATEX, IECEx, USCG and DNV 2.7-2 approvals, a truly global product for the company’s international customers.





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