Understanding the Ex Certification Process
The Ex Certification Process is regulated by Governments, Accrediting Bodied and IECEx and requires significant input from both the customer and the certification body. Unlike other forms of testing such as EMC, Ex Certification requires products to comply with constructional requirements and to pass testing (where applicable). Often test samples will have to be modified to make the representative test samples that we require for our program.
If you are unsure as to what the terminology means, or what you may require, please contact us and one of our team will talk you through the process. The application form is a mandatory requirement for all ATEX Notified Bodied, but it is also vital that the project scope is defined and understood before we start, so typically for the Ex certification process you will need to understand or identify if you need:
- Standards/Protection Concepts that the product has been designed to comply with
- Ambient Temperature Ranges of use and equipment environmental conditions
- EPL or ATEX Category (or Zone the equipment is required to be used in)
- Gas/Dust groups and Temperature Class required
- Other certifications required (i.e. IECEx, Division 1, INMETRO etc.)
- Any CE Marking testing that should be conducted in parallel (EMC, LVD etc.)
Unless you are starting with a design review, the application form will ask you what Standards you are claiming compliance with. Ensure that you understand the requirements and testing procedures in these standards that your product may be assessed to (this should give you a good idea of whether the product is designed to meet these requirements). If you have not deigned to or referred to the Standard, the project should start with an initial certification review, as it may not be possible to successfully complete the certification project for non-compliant projects. Our quote for testing and assessment does not infer certification will be granted, the product must fully comply with the constructional and assessment requirements of the Standards applied for, and meet and pass all of the test requirements.
The timescale we quote starts when we have all of the necessary samples and drawings and assumes that the product is compliment (and will pass the required testing). Delays in providing information or test failures may delay the project by more than the elapsed time of the delay due to internal re-scheduling. The fastest way to gain certification is always to get it ‘right first time’ and if in doubts start with a design review to fast track the reviewing process and identify any potential problems. The final submitted document package must fully control all aspects required by the Standard, you will be forwarded a guidance documents that will guide you on this process at the beginning of the project.
Certification Information required for the Ex Certification Process
A typical list of things we need for an approvals project (once the quote is accepted) includes:
- General arrangement and certification drawings
- Material datasheets
- representative sample(s) of the product (our testing is often ‘destructive’ so please assume that the samples will be destroyed during testing)
- Test reports (if applicable)
- Compliance statement and/or evidence of compliance (for example, safety component calculations for intrinsic safety)
- Manufacturer’s ISO certificate If you are new to certification we strongly recommend a pre-compliance review so you fully understand the requirements of certification before you begin.
Ensure you have your quality management systems in place (again, ensuring no delays when it comes to manufacturing the product under certification requirements) and that you dedicate the internal resources and time to resolving any issues raised by the assessment. Our timescale estimates are based on prompt responses from clients; if we have to wait several weeks for a response we may have a delay before we can recommence the project.
When working with other schemes, such as MET or INMETRO, the issuing bodies may have additional fee’s (such as for use of their logo) or additional audit requirements for their Ex Certification Process (North America for example requires four ‘visits’ per year by the listing body). ExVeritas will advise on these costs as far as possible, but we only include the test and certification program in our quotes, as the follow up manufacturing audits are normally quoted and provided separately so that ‘local’ auditors can be used where possible.
Certification Schedule Drawings
When product certification relies on QAN/QARs (Quality Systems) for manufacture, it is the ‘Drawings’ listed on the certificate that are the basis of certification. For that reason there are some very specific information that must appear on the certification schedule drawings (which are normally different to the manufacturing drawings).
Delays on certification issue are often traced to incorrect drawings being submitted.