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Recent IECEx and IEC Committee TC 31 meetings in Brazil and India

Author : Jim Munro

04 February 2014

This update will look at some outcomes of the most recent meetings of IECEx System and IEC Committee TC 31 Equipment for Explosive Atmospheres. 

Author Jim Munro at 'The Meeting of the Waters'
Author Jim Munro at 'The Meeting of the Waters'

But first let me take you to a recent personal experience. 

Prior to the IECEx meetings in Fortaleza my wife and I spend a few days in an eco-lodge in the Amazon jungle.  One daily excursion took us the "Meeting of the Waters" by boat.  This is a spot where the mighty Amazon meets the also large Rio Negro.  The Amazon is light brown from all the mud and silt it carries with it while the Rio Negro is very dark from the tannins in its water. For many kilometres you can see the two distinct colours (see picture) but eventually they become one on their way to the sea.  This is somewhat analogous with our process of writing standards.  Often we start with national requirements from more than one country or region that initially seem very different but eventually through the TC 31 process they become one internationally accepted standard.  Similarly IECEx has had the opportunity to draw on various international, regional and country systems to produce certification schemes that have been recognised as "best practice". 

In some of the outcomes of the following meetings perhaps you will recognise some evidence of the "Meeting of the Waters".

IECEx System Meetings

The IECEx meetings took place in Fortaleza, Brazil from 16 to 20 September 2013.  The meetings incorporated training, a meeting of the certifying and testing bodies (ExTAG), a UNECE (United National Economic Commission for Europe) workshop focussing on Latin America and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and the IECEx management meeting (ExMC).  There were also various working group meetings.  In my role as Chairman of TC 31, I presented a paper the workshop and gave a report on TC 31 to the ExMC.  I also ran assessor training, ran or attended various working group meetings and provided reports to ExMC on groups that I convene.

Some significant outcomes from the ExMC meeting included:
·  As Kerry Manama had stepped down as IECEx chair the committee need to elect a new chair.  Dr Thorsten Arnhold from Germany was elected as the new Chair of ExMC. 
·  Julien Gauthier from France was appointed as the new Secretary of ExTAG with the retirement of Michel Brenon.
·  Agreement to revise operational document OD 003-2 to incorporate an interim surveillance assessments for the Certified Equipment Scheme ExCB and ExTLs between 5 year re-assessments.  The current program for On-Line reviews by the Secretariat will continue.
·  Integration of Ex s (new IEC 60079-33) into the IECEx 02 Certified Equipment Scheme - A new OD will soon be published incorporating the approaches to be used when certifying to this standard in IECEx.
·  Agreement that John Allen take over the Chairman of ExPCC with Mr Ralph Wigg to become Deputy Chairman. This is to apply for the remainder of the existing term and the next term.
·  The Meeting agreed that existing Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs) which are used in assessments will be replaced by a new integrated Technical Capability Document.
·  The Meeting accepted that the draft Business Plan to be issued as the current Business Plan as of the 30 June 2013 and agreed to request WG13 to continue to review and update the Business Plan.
·  The Meeting noted the next meeting of the IECEx ExMC and associated meetings are  scheduled to be held in The Hague, The Netherlands in August 2014.

Meetings of TC 31 Equipment for Explosive Atmospheres

Meeting of IEC TC 31 and its various subcommittees, project teams, working groups and maintenance teams took place from 16 to 25 October 2013 in New Delhi, India.  The TC 31 plenary meeting took place on the last two days, 24 and 25 October 2013.  Some outcomes from the meeting included:
·  It was agreed to form a new maintenance  team to address the current revision of IEC 60079-13.  These responsibilities will be transferred from MT60079-2/13.  The convenor of this new MT will be Dalia El-Tawy from the US.  TC 31 also agreed that upon publication of edition 2 of the document, MT60079-13 will move to SC 31J subject to the approval of SC 31J.
·  The title and scope of Maintenance team MT60079-2/13 will be revised to be MT60079-2 and cover only the maintenance of IEC 60079-2.
·  TC 31 supported the recommendation for MT60079-29 to proceed with a new work item proposal for a Toxic Gas Detection Performance standard and create a joint working group with ISO TC146 SC2 to do so.
·  TC 31 confirmed the need for additional investigation of both off and on-shore high voltage applications and agreed to convert AHG 41 to a working group.  The WG title is High Voltage and the task is to develop requirements related to high voltage for inclusion in standards.  The Convenor will be Frank Lienesch from Germany.
·  TC31 agreed to form an ad-hoc group to investigate issues regarding production of installation standards for non-electrical equipment and mining equipment, noting that IEC 60079-14 will soon be due for revision.  The need for an integrated approach will need to be considered by that group.  Peter Thurnherr from Switzerland was subsequently appointed as rapporteur of the ad-hoc group.
·  The meeting noted that IEC/SMB have decided that the terms of office of Chairmen will be limited to nine years.  Since I will have served for 15 years when my current term expires in July 2014, I will not be eligible for reappointment.  Requests to extend my chairmanship by one further term of three years have not been successful.  However, it was agreed to seek a shorter extension from SMB to ensure a smooth transition.  This was also not successful and so my role as Chairman of TC 31 will finish in July.
·  TC 31 decided to appoint a  Vice-Chairman.  It agreed that Mark Coppler would take on this role with responsibility for active management of the work programmes of TC 31 and its subcommittees.
·  It was noted that the Chairman's Advisory Group and various other TC 31 meetings will occur in Braunschweig, Germany in March/April 2014.
·  It was agreed to accept an invitation from the US to hold the 2014 TC 31 plenary meeting in Chicago, USA in October 2014. 

About the author:

Jim Munro has over 30 years in the Ex field and is Managing Director of his own consulting company, Jim Munro International Compliance Pty Ltd. He has been chairman of IEC Committee TC31 for 15 years.

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