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Hazardous Area Certifications
Bartec Pixavi products carry a wide range of accreditations and Hazardous Area Certifications. Certifications are important to maintain the safety aspects and reliability of operation. There are a multitude of product certification schemes around the world. We focus on CE, FCC, IECEx and ATEX and CSA which are the relevant standards for our products and markets.
Certification for hazardous locations
The mainstream certification schemes for Electrical Equipment in Hazardous Areas in operation around the world are ATEX, IECEx, CSA, ANZex, AUSEx, UL and FM. Each scheme has its own method of marking equipment and an interpretation of the marking requirements and how equipment can be correctly identified is required for each customer.
Bartec Pixavi focuses on the following world wide certification standards:
- IECEx (International)
- ATEX (Europe, but accepted worldwide)
- CSA (United States and Canada)
- FCC (EMC, ESD and RF compliance)
- CE (EMC, ESD and RF compliance)
Explosive atmospheres can be caused by flammable gases, mists, vapors or by combustible dusts, in combination with oxygen. With a certain concentration level all that is needed to cause an explosion is a source of ignition.
Explosions can be lethal and cause serious injuries as well as material and economic damage. Preventing releases of hazardous substances, which can create explosive atmospheres, and preventing sources of ignition are two widely used ways of reducing the risk. Therefore, using ATEX or IECEx certified equipment is very important to the security of people and assets. ATEX or IECEx certified equipment will under no circumstance cause an ignition, and is therefore intrinsically safe. Furthermore, these explosive or hazardous areas are divided in to different zones. The zones is defined by the likelihood of there being a potential hazardous atmosphere in the area.
What is ATEX?
ATEX is the name commonly given to the framework for controlling explosive atmospheres and to the standards that electronic equipment needs to comply with in order to be used safely in hazardous areas. It is based on the requirements of two European Directives.
1) Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137’ or the ‘ATEX Workplace Directive’) on minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres. The text of the Directive and the supporting EU produced guidelines are available on the EU-website. For more information on how the requirements of the Directive have been put into effect in Great Britain see the information in the section on Equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres. ATEX Workplace Directive or ATEX 137.
2) Directive 94/9/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 95’ or ‘the ATEX Equipment Directive’) on the approximation of the laws of Members States concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. The text of the Directive and EU produced supporting guidelines are available on the EU web site. The ATEX Directive is also called “Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (Directive 94/9/EC)” .
Ex equipment and protective systems
The aim of Directive 94/9/EC is to allow the free trade of ‘ATEX’ equipment and protective systems within the EU by removing the need for separate testing and documentation for each Member State. In Great Britain, the requirements of the Directive were put into effect through the DTI’s Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/192). The Regulations apply to all equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres, whether electrical or mechanical, and also to protective systems. Manufacturers/suppliers (or importers, if the manufacturers are outside the EU) must ensure that their products meet essential health and safety requirements and undergo appropriate conformity procedures. This usually involves testing and certification by a ‘third-party’ certification body (known as a Notified Body), but manufacturers/suppliers can ‘self-certify’ equipment intended to be used in less hazardous explosive atmospheres. Once certified, the equipment is marked by the ‘Ex’ symbol to identify it as such. Certification ensures that the equipment or protective system is fit for its intended purpose and that adequate information is supplied with it to ensure that it can be used safely. The DTI has policy responsibility for the Regulations (although HSE enforces them).
What is IECEx
The IECEx Scheme is an international Conformity Assessment Scheme covering Electrical Equipment for Explosive Atmospheres, as the Internationally accepted means of demonstrating conformity with IEC Standards prepared by IEC TC31.
IECEx vs ATEX
The IECEx certification scheme helps manufacturers with a method of providing global acceptance for their hazardous area products in countries participating in the scheme. The IECEx Hazardous Area Certifications is accepted worldwide.
ATEX is relying on many different forms of Conformity Assessment while IECEx is a true Type 5 Certification Scheme. They each have their role, but which gives the greater confidence in the product?
Although both schemes relate to confirming the perceived safety of products for use in hazardous areas, their origins and the forces driving the way they operate are different.
ATEX is about enabling to trade within Europe. Its purpose is to establish a level of safety which is to be regarded as sufficient to ensure that national authorities would accept the equipment certified. It is not intended to help European equipment manufacturers to export to the rest of the world. In pursuit of the removal of trade barriers, ATEX 94/9/EC eased off on some of the requirements in the previous ATEX directives (76/117/EEC and 82/130/EEC).
IECEx is about giving confidence that a product or service meets clearly defined transparent criteria. By providing that transparency with a high level of confidence, it is intended that it will eventually provide a worldwide recognised certificate in which the whole world has confidence. The driving force is safety, with the trade benefits following from the confidence.
The scope of the IECEx Scheme is defined by the standards issued by IEC Standards Committee TC 31 and is limited to electrical equipment, whereas the scope of ATEX is broader, also including non-electrical equipment and protective systems. Directly comparing the schemes is not relevant for equipment out of the scope of one of them, but note that there is an intention to broaden the scope of the IECEx Scheme in the future.
Pixavi design our products from the ground up in cooperation with third party notified bodies to ensure that we meed all the demands. As a result, our products carry several certifications. You find the Pixavi products ATEX and IECEx certificates linked under each product site and on the IECEx website.
ATEX: Declaration of Conformity
The single public domain document for ATEX is the manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity (DoC) or Certificate of Conformity (CoC). This is the only document that the manufacturer is obliged to show to his customer and the manufacturer has sole responsibility for it. The manufacturer produces it entirely independent of any other documentation that he might have, although it may refer to other documentation as well. In particular, it is the manufacturer who has responsibility for bringing together the modules for type examination and for production control, and ensuring that they are compatible, or he may be totally responsible for every aspect under the module “Internal Control of Production”. By definition, certification is the action of a third party (see ISO/IEC Guide 2). Clearly the issuing of the DoC is the action of the first party and therefore falls outside the definition of certification. However, one or more of the process leading to the issuing of the DoC may involve a third party (the Notified Body) and each part of the process may be referred to, colloquially, as “certification”.
As opposed to ATEX, IECEx has been made from the outset as a Type 5 Certification Scheme, relying on a single third party to bring together all aspects of design and production control before issuing a publicly available Hazardous Area Certification. Thus the public domain documentation is a certificate issued by the certification body. Furthermore, because of the online IECEx database, any purchaser of the equipment can check the current status of the certificate on the web. More info in the IECEx database found here.
ATEX has one advantage over IECEx, being that it is possible to fudge compliance with standards. Although an advantage when correctly applied to assist in the introduction of new technology, it does leave doubt as to exactly which requirements from standards have been applied in order to claim compliance with the EHSRs.
Opposed to this, IECEx is totally transparent and you get what you see: absolute compliance with the nominated standards, certified by an independent third party (“Notified Body”).
Notified Bodies for the ATEX Directive are appearing everywhere in Europe, it is a commercial free-for-all and it is not entirely clear where some of these bodies are getting their expertise, or the criteria being used for notification. It is a complicated subject and debated among the professionals.
IECEx has a better controlled process to monitor the level of competence of the certification bodies that it admits to membership, therefore giving confidence in the quality of the work of the body and the degree of confidence that can be put in the certified equipment.
Will IECEx conquer the world?
The target end point should be acceptance of an IECEx Certificate directly into Europe as meeting the ATEX Directive. There is still a way to go before this is a reality. In the mean time, by conforming to the IECEx procedures it is possible to produce a set of documentation that merely requires an ATEX front page to meet the requirements of both schemes. This means that a certification process covering IECEx will also cover ATEX.
Which scheme should I go for?
Currently, both ATEX and IECEx are recommended. In the future, IECEx is likely to dominate the jungle of certification schemes, enabling one scheme for all countries. Hazardous location categories: zones vs. divisions / World vs. North America. The hazardous areas are the same, but often the various Notified Bodies will claim that the Hazardous Area Certifications are different.
Wiring practices in hazardous locations are still subject to debate – whether the U.S. should change its method of classifying locations by divisions and adopt the European method of zone classification. It is also affecting businesses throughout the industry. Some fear the zone method would replace existing jobs because of the lack of conduit installations in zone-classified equipment. Others say it’s economically smart to switch; the installation materials are less expensive. Here is an easy way to see the differences between the zones and divisions, as described by UL’s Hazardous Locations Services.
In the North Sea, Norsk Standard is also used. The relevant Ex codes are NEK EN 60079-14, NEK EN 60079-25, NEK-EN-60079-0 and NEK-EN-60079-11. Our products are also compliant to these standards.
Pixavi have over a decade of experience developing electronic devices with these certifications. If you have any questions regarding certifications for hazardous areas. Please contact one of our experts here!