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Differences in IECEx and ATEX Explosion proof Electrical Product Certification

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| 2019-12-12|Return

This article introduces the differences between IECEx and ATEX explosion-proof electrical product certifications. Equipment products certified by ATEX or IECEx, such as explosion-proof servo motors, are essential for use in any potentially explosive or potentially explosive environment and are an important guarantee to assist in creating production safety. There are many working conditions that can be defined as being in an explosive environment, some of which are more obvious, such as oil drilling platforms, and some working conditions that you may not realize are also explosive, such as flour mills. Domestic manufacturers exporting explosion-proof products to Europe and North America are recommended to obtain both IECEx and ATEX certifications, which will help simplify the export process.

IECEx obtains permission to use in hazardous areas worldwide
The ATEX 94/9/EC (Equipment) Directive came into effect in the European Union in July 2003, but compliance with local regulations has always been a challenge for equipment manufacturers and suppliers exporting to regions outside of Europe.
The goal of IECEx is to make it a "globally recognized certification" through absolute and traceable compliance with nomination criteria.
Many industries, such as petrochemical product processing and mining, are global. However, professional knowledge about the control equipment required for designing and manufacturing these industries often comes from European companies. ATEX is a set of mandatory legal directives based on various forms of conformity assessment, introduced to eliminate trade barriers within Europe. The purpose of ATEX is to set perceptible security standards that are sufficient to ensure that national authorities agree to free trade within the EU.

ATEX certification
ATEX is not a true certification. The only public domain document of ATEX is the Declaration of Conformity (DoC) used by the manufacturer. This is also the only information that manufacturers must present to buyers, and manufacturers are solely responsible for it. Although other sources may be mentioned in the text, the publication of this file is in any other document. The lack of this detail has led to questioning of the value of compliance with ATEX by standards bodies in other countries outside the European Union, and viewing it as a reference for local basic health and safety requirements.


General methods

Compliance typically involves using pre approved products in a specific manner, and if necessary, designated agencies (such as Baseefa, Sira, TUV, etc.) will provide conformity assessments to obtain additional certifications. However, this is not always sufficient for global exports. There is also a need for an internationally applicable solution that allows device design to be used anywhere in the world without significant modifications. This method can achieve an acceptable general safety level by adopting recognized practices, with the aim of promoting free trade of products used in hazardous areas in all major global markets.


IECEx Explosion proof Electrical Product Certification System

IECEx is a certification system advocated by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and has quickly become the preferred way for products used in all hazardous areas to obtain international safety certification. The details provided in the IEC test report are not included in ATEX certification and can be approved locally to address any legal issues that may arise in the destination market.

Compared to ATEX, IECEx has always aimed to hire a separate third-party (IECEx certification body) to integrate all aspects of design evaluation and production control, just like the ISO/IEC Type 5 certification system, before issuing certification. This certification is a public document issued by an accredited certification body. Device buyers can access the IECEx online database to view the current status of authentication in real-time: current, suspended, or revoked.


Global identity

Unlike ATEX, the content of IECEx is completely public to buyers and users, and unlike ATEX's compliance system, details are difficult to understand. The goal of IECEx is to make it a "globally recognized certification" through absolute and traceable compliance with nomination criteria.

ATEX has improved IECEx

This does not mean that ATEX certification cannot be used anymore. The mandatory legal status of ATEX within Europe will ensure its continued importance, however, IECEx certification enhances ATEX and for devices exported to countries outside the European Union, obtaining both certifications would be more advantageous. In the UK and Europe, Baseefa will continue to lead the verification, evaluation, and certification of products, and gain global recognition in the IECEx explosion-proof electrical product certification system. One of the globally accepted examples of IECEx is that the certification system has been adopted by Insurance Laboratories (UL) in the United States. UL has obtained the IECEx certification system for explosion-proof electrical products and has been issuing Assessment and Testing Reports (ATRs) since 2005.

Single authentication program

All national certification bodies that have joined the IECEx explosion-proof electrical product certification system recognize ATR without the need for additional testing. Therefore, obtaining a product certification can open the door to the 31 countries that have currently joined the IECEx certification system. These countries include Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia.

Combine IECEx and ATEX certifications into one

1. Unified technical standards for electrical equipment produced since 2006

2. For a single standard, a single set of testing and evaluation can support both IECEx and ATEX simultaneously

3. The ATEX EC type audit certificate can be based on IECEx ExTR, but ATEX documents may not necessarily support IECEx certification

4. The technical requirements of the manufacturer's quality assurance system are equally effective, based on EN13980 and IECEx QAR standards, which can support ATEX QAN certification; However, global standardization still requires a long time, so more and more countries are adopting this international certification system. Many manufacturers have become aware of this shift and have started adding IECEx certification to their certification list. You will find that more and more products, whether existing or new, are starting to have the blue IECEx logo attached next to the familiar ATEX Ex logo.

Example of product logo with dual certification


The dual logo of IECEx and ATEX is becoming increasingly common. Through this method, the product can obtain the same recognition as it currently does in European countries in other countries that have joined the IECEx certification system. Sometimes, products may also need to comply with national certification standards, but in these cases, using IECEx test reports can quickly and cost effectively track certification information.

As the UK and European countries gradually shift their business focus, especially towards export markets outside of Europe and North America, the dual certification of IECEx and ATEX will help simplify export procedures.

The IECEx explosion-proof electrical product certification system is a very important step towards a global certification system. In the process of designing, manufacturing, or purchasing products for use in hazardous areas, the combination of IECEx and ATEX dual certification marks will help make wiser choices.

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