WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IECEx VS ATEX
The IECEx System is a set of four separate Schemes (of which one relates to Ex Equipment) that were developed to satisfy the calls from the Ex industry for international recognition and coordination of the outputs of various certification systems and test laboratories (house) with different practises with different levels of expertise.
The IECEx scheme operates from the platform of having a single Qualification Process for the assessment and evaluation of Certification Bodies and Test Laboratories to ensure that they have the necessary test equipment and facilities with staff holding the necessary level of technical expertise to conduct testing and certification, and establishing a single way of conducting Ex testing and certification – we refer to this as doing Ex certification the “IECEx Way”. As an illustration, it is acceptable under ATEX to rely solely on a manufacturer’s declaration for Zone 2 equipment (Ex ‘n’) whereas for IECEx we do not discriminate between Zone 0, 1, 2. All equipment under IECEx must be independently tested and certified in order to carry the IECEx certificate number and have an IECEx Certificate issued on the IECEx website.
Therefore, while we have some 57 ExCBs approved by IECEx to issue IECEx certificates, it is important to know that these bodies may still conduct testing and certification according to their local schemes, eg ATEX for EU based ExCBs and American for US based etc. So to be sure that the product is covered by an IECEx certification, the Ex equipment must carry on the marking plate the IECEx Certificate number “IECEx XXX 18.0001” where:
‘IECEx’ shows that it is an IECEx certification
‘XXX’ identifies the ExCB that issued the IECEx certificate
‘18’ Represents the last 2 digits of the year of issue
‘0001’ represents the running certificate number issued in that year
The fundamental differences between ATEX and IECEx are:
Targeted Jurisdiction for ATEX is the European Union but does get used on a voluntary basis outside EU ATEX requires compliance with the EHSR listed in Annex II and uses compliance with Standards as a “deemed to comply with EHSR requirements” meaning that strict compliance with Standards is NOT a requirement of ATEX. However most manufacturers use standards as their means to demonstrate compliance with the EHSRs Bodies offering ATEX services are known as “Notified Bodies” (ExNB). These bodies are qualified by the official body within their own country with the official body in the country issuing a notification to the EU Commission.
A certificate issued by an ExNB is called “EU – Type Examination Certificate” and is not a Certificate of Conformity.
The assessment and testing/certification process of ATEX as with EU Directives is risk based, meaning that for lower risk areas like previous zone 2 or Ex n, ATEX allows full manufacturer’s declaration without involvement of an ExNB. When it comes to IECEx Targeted Jurisdiction is the world, all countries.
As such, IECEx is a true International Certification Scheme where full compliance with IEC International Standards are required. Rather than being qualified within a certification body or Test Lab’s own country, IECEx Certification Bodies (ExCB) and IECEx Test Labs (ExTL) are evaluated and qualified according to a single international process managed and approved by the single International IECEx Management Committee. Each ExTL and ExCB is visited and assessed by an expert team of assessors from IECEx.
IECEx operates a Technical Secretariat with the IECEx Executive Secretary appointed with the Chief Executive Officer Function of the Scheme to handle day to day matters, reporting to the IECEx Executive and Management Committee. ExCBs issue IECEx Certificates of Conformity that require that samples be fully tested against the Standard regardless of the zone of use of the product.
IECEx Certificates are ALL publicly available for full viewing at the IECEx Website. This provides a single central On-Line location where Certificates issued by all IECEx approved ExCBs are located. In effect we say if the IECEx certificate does not appear on the website then it is not issued.
IECEx operates separate Schemes for IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme IECEx Certified Service Facility Scheme IECEx Certification of Personnel Competencies (CoPC) Scheme IECEx is the only Certification scheme to be formally endorsed by the United Nations as “world’s best practise and recommended model” for use by regulators when regulating the use of Ex equipment and Services.
The point to understand is that ATEX has been set up and works effectively within EU where there exists EU legislation as the overarching requirement.
As IECEx operates globally across many national and regional jurisdictions, the IECEx rules governing acceptance of ExTLs, ExCBs and the process of certification needs to be comprehensive to ensure that confidence and integrity in IECEx certifications are maintained.
So while from a legislative perspective, all that is required to sell Ex products in EU is ATEX, customers are asking for IECEx as well.