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Braunschweig and Buxton

Author : Ron Sinclair MBE, SGS Baseefa

18 July 2013

The last week in May saw two separate series of meetings.  At the start of the week, we were in Braunschweig, Germany, at PTB, for the Cenelec TC 31 standards meeting.  

The Kohlmarkt at Braunschweig
The Kohlmarkt at Braunschweig

I have explained previously that the technical role of the European standards bodies is very often subsumed into the actions of IEC and ISO, under both the Dresden (Cenelec/IEC) and Vienna (CEN/ISO) agreements, whereby the principal decisions take place at international level. Only local deviations and legal issues are considered at European level.

For most standards, the “parallel voting” procedure allows the European version of the standard to be published in short order following the publication of the international version.  However, with EN 60079-0, we continually run into legal issues related to the precise wording of the ATEX Directive 94/9/EC.  When the latest edition of IEC 60079-0 was published in 2011, we had a delay before the equivalent EN 60079-0 was published in 2012.  However, there was an appeal by two countries that this 2012 edition contained errors in respect of correspondence with the ATEX Directive.  (It should be note that the problems also existed with the previous editions, but had not been identified or considered to be a significant issue.)  

With the registration of the objections, the European Commission’s consultant was not able to recommend that the standard should be listed as “harmonised”.

Since most of the problems concerned Annex ZZ (which gives the assurance with respect to the coverage of the Essential Health and Safety Requirements of the directive) I made the pragmatic suggestion that the current document should be harmonised and the matters resolved at the next edition.  I made the mistake of suggesting to the “powers that be” at Cenelec that this was OK on the basis that not many people bothered to read Annex ZZ.  My fingers were well and truly rapped for the suggestion, and we are now going through the process of issuing yet a further edition of EN 60079-0 (with text recommended from the Braunschweig meeting) which should be published before the end of this year.  In the meantime, it is safe to use the 2012 edition “as if it were harmonised”.

Probably the other point of note from Braunschweig was a unanimous agreement of all the counties present to vote negatively on the new IEC document for trace heating unless significant changes are made to the current draft.

This may be a strange stance to take, but IEC TC31 took a decision a few years ago that the next edition of the trace heating standard should be a dual logo IEC/IEEE document, to assist the use of the IEC standard in areas which are influenced by North American practice.  
This would have been acceptable to our European interests, if the information specifically related to the “Division” installation systems were contained in an informative Annex.  However, the current draft has the Division information as part of the mandatory text, making it impossible to complete the parallel voting process under the Dresden Agreement to agree the European text.  There has been a feeling that if IEEE can enjoy dual-logoed standards, then the same should apply to Cenelec, in order to confirm to the world that the standard is accepted in Europe.  We shall see what happens.

And after one day’s break, some of the same people reassembled in Buxton, where we hosted a series of IECEx meetings.  Standards writing and the international scheme for certification are definitely separate, but also inextricably linked.

In the first two days, three separate working groups considered:
* Development of the IECEx Business Plan
* The potential for a new scheme, endorsing training providers
* Forward planning for when the IEC standards for non-electrical equipment are published

This latter group looked particularly at how the IECEx Scheme could formalise a way of assessing the ignition risk assessment that is the core of the new draft ISO 80079-36 (to succeed EN 13463-1), which should be published next year.  As always, once potential users of a document start looking at the detail, a number of questions arose, and these will be referred to the project team developing the standard.

Moving into the first week in June, Monday’s meetings looked specifically at the operation of the Product Certification Scheme.  We now have over 300,000 documents registered on the IECEx web site, representing true world-wide acceptance of the principles behind the scheme:
* Single point certification for sale and use in the widest possible market place
* Total transparency of process
* Ready access to documentation

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to development of the IECEx Competence Certification Scheme, which would merit a whole article on its own, and on Thursday the committee looking after the operation of the IECEx Mark held a meeting.  The week rounded off with a meeting of the IECEx Executive, planning ahead for the next general meeting of the Management Committee, which will take place in Fortaleza, Brazil, in September.

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