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Plenty to discuss in Berlin

Author : Ron Sinclair

20 September 2010

Now that we have three full Certification Schemes within the IECEx System, there is always plenty to discuss at IECEx meetings

Plenty to discuss in Berlin
Plenty to discuss in Berlin

The last meeting held in September saw delegates from around the world assemble in the Mövenpick Hotel, the building in Berlin which, before partition, was the headquarters of the Siemens Organisation.

The series of meetings started off with a training workshop, then the ExTAG meeting. On the Wednesday there was an Industry Symposium, followed by a meeting for those interested in the important UNECE developments. Finally, the full Management Committee of the IECEx System met on Thursday and Friday.

There are now over 5,000 product certificates on the web site, increasing at about 1,500 per year. This is way beyond the critical mass, and we can confidently expect that the IECEx Product Certificate will continue to grow in acceptability throughout the world. There are many countries which previously accepted ATEX that now prefer or (as in the case of Australia) insist on IECEx as the only alternative to their local certification.

After over three years in gestation, a policy was agreed on how testing performed away from the laboratory location can be accepted within the system. The two opposing views had been that:-
a) all testing must be fully under the control of a representative of the laboratory at all times;
b) by proper monitoring, it is possible to accept some results prepared by the manufacturer without a laboratory representative permanently in attendance.

The compromise is that the manufacturer cannot do the core Ex tests, such as explosion pressure determination but, given proper supervision and auditing, it should be possible to accept results from tests that are done as part of their normal non-Ex activity. A prime example is the full load type testing of Ex n induction motors, where most manufacturers have significantly more in-depth experience than the laboratory.

The other piece of good news is the agreement to proceed with a variation in the scheme to allow the international version of what we know as both Product Verification and Unit Verification in ATEX. This is likely to be of particular interest to those who manufacture assemblies, which have, up to now, not fitted well within the scheme.

Service Facility Certification
This scheme is also beginning to grow exponentially. There are now 37 certified repair workshops, mainly in the UK, the Netherlands and South East Asia. This is about the same rate of growth as the product certification scheme at a similar stage of development.

An interesting discussion was prompted by a question from one of the National Committees, asking why an IECEx Certified Service Facility had refused to rewind an Ex e motor.

In fact, the repair workshop was doing exactly as it should. It could not get hold of the original winding and insulation details and neither could it do a full re-test after rewind, itself. Under these circumstances, even if there were to be a good shot at copy winding, there would be no guarantee that thermal transfer characteristics between copper and iron would have been maintained, and the motor may have strayed outside its original Temperature Classification.

Discussion is under way about the methods for bringing other services into the scheme, but some of these will probably have to wait until there is a critical mass of certified personnel with the required competence.

Certification of Personnel Competence
This is the new growth area, about which you will read more elsewhere in this magazine. With two certification bodies accepted into the scheme in July this year, and already the intended take up growing at a fantastic rate. Baseefa are working with colleagues elsewhere in the world to provide more examination centres. Much, but not all, of the interest in South East Asia is being driven directly by Petronas and Shell Brunei. In Europe, Total has put its weight fully behind the scheme.
More documents are being developed to provide guidance on the scheme, and these should be available for free download from shortly.

Use of the IECEx Logo
Concern has been expressed that the IECEx Logo (the double square) is being misused. The IECEx Mark Committee is looking at creating rules and recommendations as to where it might be appropriate to use the logo. There is no problem about it being used in association with an IECEx certified product or service, providing it is clear as to what is covered.
It was noted in the meeting that the secretariat is following up a blatant misuse of the logo and will be reporting the outcome. In the meantime, if you see the second half of the logo used alone (just the IECEx half), you can assume that the user does not really understand the significance and may be using it incorrectly.

This strange organisation, which effectively describes all areas from Alaska to Azerbaijan as part of Europe, has fully adopted the draft resolution that was previously under discussion and it is now official. This means that the IECEx Certification System is regarded as best practice by the United Nations and is recommended for adoption into local legislation throughout the world. This is targeted primarily at counties without any current legislation, but it is also hoped that notice will be taken when existing legislation is revised.

The ATEX Product Directive is currently being revised, without any notice being taken of the UNECE policy. What will happen at the next revision?

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