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ATEX and IECEx Certification of non-electrical equipment

Simon Barrowcliff
By Engaged Expert Simon Barrowcliff (MEng MBA MIET CEng) Product Qualification Testing

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Following the 2016 publication of ISO/IEC 80079-36 and ISO/IEC 80079-37, non-electrical equipment for use in explosive atmospheres must now achieve IECEx certification. The IECEx is an international certification system that covers equipment that operates in any environment where there is a risk of explosion. 

This is particularly relevant for assemblers of equipment such as complete systems on skids. Previously, a purchaser requirement for IECEx certification could only be met for the electrical parts but now the assembly certificate is able to cover the complete assembly, including the possible risks of ignition from the non-electrical items.

ISO/IEC 80079-36 covers the basic method and requirements for non-electrical equipment whilst ISO/IEC 80079-37 covers non-electrical equipment for specific types of protection. These are: `constructional safety' (“c”); `control of ignition sources' (“b”); and `liquid immersion' (“k”) and must be specified in the instructions manual of the equipment. Non-electrical equipment meeting all the requirements of ISO/IEC 80079-36, or meeting the requirements of ISO/IEC 80079-37 supplemental to those of ISO/IEC 80079-36, is then marked only with the Ex-marking code “h”, with the specific types of protection detailed only in the instructions. 

The compliance route for non-electrical equipment under ATEX and IECEx Certification

The compliance route follows the same process that governs IECEx approval of electrical equipment. This means that as well as a product assessment and the issuing of an IECEx Certificate of Conformity; a Quality Audit Report (IECEx QAR) is also required where the equipment is other than a one off, i.e. it is for series production. An IECEx QAR demonstrates that the manufacturing process of such equipment is in line with the product approval and means that multiple units can be manufactured without 100% inspection being required. For one off certifications an IECEx QAR is not needed under IECEx Unit Verification rules. 

The IECEx System operates alongside existing certification schemes such as the European ATEX product directive for hazardous location equipment. ATEX non-electrical certification has always been part of ATEX Certification but some lower risk certification could be `self-certified' or have a file lodged with a Notified Body. IECEx, along with most other international regulatory regimes (e.g. USA, Canada or Australia), do not permit any “self-certification”.

ATEX categories for non-electrical equipment

For all ATEX Categories the manufacturer of the equipment must now conduct a risk assessment and create a `Technical File' to comply with the Directive and to then be able to CE Mark the equipment. How the assessment is carried out depends on the category of the equipment.

  • For ATEX Category 1 non-electrical equipment for use in a high-risk area where an explosive atmosphere is present for long periods areas (i.e. zone 0 or zone 20), a Notified Body must perform the test and assessment, and the Quality audit of the factory.
  • For ATEX Category 2 equipment that is intended for use in a medium-risk area, where an explosive atmosphere may occur under normal operating conditions (i.e. zone 1 or zone 21), the manufacturer may do the assessment themselves or use a competent third party (such as Element) but they must `lodge' the Technical File with a Notified Body.  
  • For ATEX Category 3 equipment intended for areas where an explosive atmosphere is only likely under abnormal circumstances areas (i.e. zone 2 or zone 22), the manufacturer may hold the Technical File internally and have the assessment completed by themselves or by a competent third party.

As a Notified Body (NB) for the ATEX Directive, an IECEx Testing Laboratory (ExTL) and an IECEx Certification Body (ExCB), Element is able to issue ATEX and IECEx non-electrical certificates. Qualified in both ATEX and IECEx systems, our engaged experts can help you construct a single test certification program that accommodates any additional testing.

If you would like to know more about the certification process of non-electrical equipment, please contact us, or call UK +44 808 234 1667 or US +1 888 786 7555.

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