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More news from Toronto

01 July 2015

SGS Baseefa General Manager Ron Sinclair MBE is chairman of BSI Committee EXL/31 and the IEC's Cenelec TC31 committee. Here he looks at some of the issues discussed during a second trip to Toronto earlier this year which involved a week of meetings on the IECEx Certification System, hosted by Canadian certification body QPS.

SGS Baseefa General Manager Ron Sinclair MBE
SGS Baseefa General Manager Ron Sinclair MBE

Two of the meetings reviewed the operation of the Certification of Personnel Competence Scheme and the related Recognised Training Provider Programme.  It is important to stress the physical separation of the certification and the training; but it is also necessary to ensure at least some linkage between the content of training material and the examinations for the particular units of competence.

The Recognised Training Provider Programme has only just started and, at the time of writing, only two training providers have received formal recognition, but there are more in progress.  The programme does not “approve” particular training courses, but looks at the structure of the training organisation, the people who act as trainers, and the way that the organisation ensures that its courses are kept abreast of changing technology and standards.  It is because of these constant changes that it would be impractical for IECEx to actually approve specific course content: the course would be out-of-date as soon as it had received its approval.

As with any new scheme, it is necessary to adapt the original documentation once experience of operation has been gained.  IECEx Operational Document OD 521 is proving no exception and the second edition was drafted, ready for acceptance by the IECEx Management Committee at its meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in September.  As with virtually all IECEx documents, OD 521 is freely available for download from the IECEx web site.  A list of Recognised Training Providers is also available on the web site, under the “Information” tab.

IECEx MC WG1 is charged with an overview of the complete IECEx Certification System and the Product Certification Scheme in particular.  Among the topics discussed we considered draft documents put forward by the IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) to have a common high level document setting out the fundamentals of all the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.

These are: IECEx;  IECEE (the “CB” Scheme); IECQ (for the quality of electronic components); and the new IECRE (covering certification in the three realms of renewable energy – wind, solar and water).  The highest level basic rules document has been based on the existing IECEx 01 document, and each system will have its own subsidiary document, supplementing the basic rules as necessary.

We also looked at possible minor modifications to the format of the IECEx equipment certificate, to match exactly the terminology in the latest edition of IEC 60079-0 in respect of the “X” conditions.

ExMC WG13 looks after longer term forward planning, as outlined in the published IECEx Strategic Business Plan.  The current edition can be downloaded from “About IECEx”, also under the “Information” tab of the IECEx web site.  The current plan extends to 2016, so we turned our attention to updating it on a rolling basis so that it will always be looking at least three years ahead, trying to anticipate changes in the Ex marketplace and the needs of our various stakeholders. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy development for the future was covered by ExMC WG15, which met on the final Saturday.  This group has been monitoring the development of the non-electrical standards, ISO 80079-36 and -37, which should be finally published towards the end of the year, provided that the vote on the FDIS documents is positive. 

These standards have taken longer to produce than originally anticipated as, being ISO and IEC dual logo standards, they have to pass the vote in both the ISO and IEC forums.  The first attempt had a positive vote in IEC but a negative vote in ISO.  They also had a positive vote in CEN where, as the successor standards to the EN 13463 series, they change the established marking practices of EN 13463-1.

A change in marking was inevitable, as the 13463 standards are fully integrated with the ATEX Directive and therefore require ATEX specific marking to cover the case of equipment that is “safe” and does not need one of the additional means of protection.  The international standards will use the letter “h” as the concept for all non-electrical equipment, whether or not additional protection has been applied.

The Working Group has prepared a package of documentation, including training material, which will go the Management Committee in September for formal approval.  At that time (even if the FDIS documents have not yet received their positive vote), certification bodies and testing laboratories will be able to apply to the IECEx Secretariat to have parts 36 and 37 added to their scope.  Once the scope extension has been approved, the certification bodies will be able to accept applications from manufacturers of non-electrical equipment for certification in the IECEx equipment certification scheme.

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