What is ATEX?
Objective of 2014/34/EU
The objective of ATEX is to ensure the free movement of Ex products within the European Union, by offering one harmonised compliance procedure accepted by all EU countries, eradicating the need for differing national standards.
The Directive removes barriers to trade by defining Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) for Ex equipment. The EHSRs form the basis of an EU-accepted product conformity approval process that examines the potential ignition sources of equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres.
ATEX Product Certification
ATEX product certification (or EU-Type Examination) is the verification of the design specification of a manufacturer’s product in relation to a series of relevant standards laid out under the directive.
This certification process must be undertaken by an ATEX Notified Body. This is an organisation that is appointed by its national government to issue ATEX certificates and conduct periodic surveillance of quality management systems, where necessary.
The certification process includes testing and assessment of the product, with an ATEX certificate and report being issued for conforming product.
ATEX Quality Assurance Notification (QAN)
The manufacturer must comply with the appropriate Annex(es) of the Directive (IV, V, VI, VII or IX) applicable dependent upon designation of the equipment (zone), whether they are mass produced or built in a batch.
The audit of the manufacturing location (and possibly any other sites that are involved with the manufacture of the product) typically covers a review of records and a check of the design specification of the equipment. A surveillance audit then takes place approximately every 18 months, (12 months if ISO 9001 certification is not held) with a new ATEX QAN certificate issued every 3 years.
What is IECEx?
IECEx is a voluntary system which provides an internationally accepted means of proving compliance with IEC standards. IEC standards are used in many national approval schemes and as such, IECEx certification can be used to support national compliance, negating the need in most cases for additional testing.
The Benefits of IECEx
The fact that many countries operate under different standards means that Ex equipment often needs to be re-tested and re-certified to the appropriate standards of that country, adding to the cost of the equipment.
The IECEx scheme significantly reduces the need for re-testing and certification by conforming to international IEC standards, and therefore makes international trade easier, quicker and more cost effective.
IECEx Quality Assessment Report (QAR)
The manufacturer must ensure compliance with the full requirements of IECEx operational document OD 005 and have an ISO 9001 compliant Quality Management System.
An audit (typically one day) will take place annually (under the terms of the IECEx rules)
If the manufacturer holds an accredited ISO 9001 certificate from a certification body that holds a national accreditation (e.g UKAS, RAB, ANAB) and are a signatory of the IAF MLA, the frequency of the audit may be changed to 18 month periods.