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IECEx Certificate and Testing
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※ Background

Explosion protection is an essential part of the overall risk management to be conducted for industrial sectors such as coal mining, oil, gas and chemical industries, to ensure safety in industrial processes using or producing hazardous materials like – for example – combustible gas, dusts or vapours. The risks to life and health of persons and the risk of loss of property when using the equipment which operates in the presence of explosive atmospheres are high.

Equipment used in high-risk facilities is highly sophisticated. Checking that it conforms to international best practice and current regulations is a complex task, even for those regulatory authorities who have substantial resources and modern equipment at their disposal.

Most national regulatory frameworks require that conformity assessment be conducted by independent, third-party inspection bodies. This is a prerequisite for safety in a sector where hazards are substantial and may involve many casualties. The IECEx Certification System offers a global framework for equipment, repair facilities or personal competence in this field.

※ What is an Ex area?

Ex areas can be known by different names such as “Hazardous Locations”, “Hazardous Areas” “Explosive Atmospheres”, and the like and relate to areas where flammable liquids, vapours, gases or combustible dusts are likely to occur in quantities sufficient to cause a fire or explosion.

The modern day automation of industry has meant an increased need to use equipment in Ex areas. Such equipment is termed “Ex equipment”

※ IECEx System Objective

The objective of the IECEx System is to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for use in explosive atmospheres, while maintaining the required level of safety:

◆  reduced testing and certification costs to manufacturer

◆  reduced time to market

◆  international confidence in the product assessment process

◆  one international database listing

◆  maintaining International Confidence in equipment and services covered by IECEx Certification


※ IECEx International Certification System

In addition to the preparation of International Standards, the IEC facilitates the operation of Conformity Assessment Systems. One such System is the IECEx System.


※ The IECEx System comprises the following:

◆  The IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme

◆  The IECEx Certified Service Facilities Scheme

◆  The IECEx Conformity Mark Licensing System

◆  The IECEx Certification of Personnel Competencies (CoPC)


※ IECEx Electrical Equipment Certification

The compliance route for an IECEx Certificate of Conformity for electrical equipment involves testing to IEC standards. Usually these standards will be in the IEC 60079 series. As well as a product assessment, a Quality Audit Report (IECEx QAR) for the factory is also required to demonstrate that the manufacturing process of such equipment is in line with the product approval. This means that multiple units can be manufactured without 100% inspection being required. All equipment for series production, regardless of zone of use, requires an IECEx QAR. The standard used for QAR assessment is IEC ISO 80079-34.

Alternatively, manufacturers can have a single piece of equipment tested and inspected for compliance using the IECEx Unit Verification route. This uses the same standards as for an IECEx Certificate of Conformity but without the need for an IECEx QAR because the compliance is only for the sample of equipment inspected during the verification process. 

※ IECEx Non-Electrical Equipment Certification 

The IECEx Certification system also covers Non-Electrical Equipment that operates in any environment where there is a risk of explosion. The compliance route for an IECEx Certificate of Conformity for mechanical equipment usually involves testing to ISO standards. The main non-electrical standards are in the ISO 80079 series. Published in 2016, ISO/IEC 80079-36 and ISO/IEC 80079-37 mean that, for the first time, non-electrical equipment for use in explosive atmospheres can achieve IECEx certification. The compliance route is otherwise identical to that for IECEx certified electrical equipment including the requirements for IECEx QAR and IECEx Unit Verification.IEC 80079-36 covers the basic method and requirements for non-electrical equipment. IEC 80079-37 covers non-electrical equipment for specific types of protection.

These are:

◆  constructional safety (“c”)

◆  control of ignition sources (“b”)

◆  liquid  immersion (“k”)

Unlike the ATEX EN 13463-1 series of standards (now also superseded by EN ISO 80079-36 and EN ISO 80079-37), all non-electrical equipment meeting the requirements of the ISO 80079-36 or ISO 80079-37 is marked with the Ex-marking code “h”.

※ IECEx and ATEX

IECEx certification is a voluntary scheme accepted by 31 countries worldwide, based on compliance with IEC standards; ATEX is a mandatory scheme for selling products in the European Union based upon compliance with specified essential requirements. In many cases, the compliance route using IEC and EN standards provides a common path to ATEX and IECEx certification with little duplication of effort. Element can certify your products to both schemes, saving you time and money, and allowing you swifter international market access. 

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