ATEX Certification from FM Approvals
The European Union (EU) is founded on the principles of free trade and offers manufacturers and distributors the second largest economy in the world, as well as access to more than 500 million consumers. To a large extent, previously complex and varied national laws have been replaced by a single set of European rules and harmonized standards that reduces the costs and inconvenience for businesses wishing to enter the EU market.
Many products intended for sale in the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) are required to carry the CE mark, indicating that the product complies with all applicable directives issued by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Manufacturers of electrical and mechanical equipment, as well as protective systems, intended for safe operation in and around potentially explosive atmospheres, must comply with the requirements of the ATEX (ATmosphères EXplosibles) Equipment Directive 94/9/EC as a prerequisite for CE marking. This directive was introduced in 1996 and became mandatory for manufacturers in 2003.
About the Directive
The ATEX Equipment Directive is primarily concerned with the manufacture and sale of products for use in hazardous locations (i.e., explosive atmospheres), including mines, oil rigs, petrochemical plants, fuel storage facilities, grain processing, flour mills and paint finishing areas. The ATEX Equipment Directive applies minimum Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) to avoid concerns over safety as a barrier to trade.
Equipment and products that fall within the scope of the ATEX Equipment Directive include electrical and non-electrical (i.e., mechanical) equipment, including components, protective systems, equipment capable of causing an explosion, and safety, controlling or regulating devices. These products are divided into two groups and categorized based on potential risk of explosion:
- Group I comprises equipment intended for use in mines where methane and coal dust are present.
- Group II comprises equipment intended for use in other locations endangered by explosive atmospheres.
Group I divides mining products into two categories:
- Category M1 – Equipment or protective systems that are required to remain functional even in the continuous presence of an explosive atmosphere
- Category M2 – Equipment that is intended to be de-energized should an explosive atmosphere form
Group II products encompass all other hazardous areas and are divided into three categories:
- Category 1 – Equipment intended for use in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by mixtures of air and gases, vapors or mists or by air/dust mixtures are present continuously for long periods or frequently.
- Category 2 – Equipment intended for use in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by gases, vapors, mists or air/dust mixtures are likely to occur.
- Category 3 – Equipment intended for use in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by gases, vapors, mists or air/dust mixtures are unlikely to occur or, if they do occur, are likely to do so only infrequently and for short periods only.
For all products that fall into Group I (Category M1 and M2) and Group II (Category
1 and 2) the manufacturer is required to use the services of a third-party certification organization, known as a Notified Body (NB), designated by Competent Authorities of each EU/EEA member state, to assess and verify that a product is in compliance with the applicable standards.
Except for Category 3 Equipment and Category 2 Non-Electrical Equipment,
Certification by a Notified Body is required in order for the manufacturer to complete the ATEX Declaration of Conformity (DoC), the only document that the manufacturer is required to show to customers.
In 2006, FM Approvals was accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) against EN 45011 to provide product conformity certification and was then appointed as an ATEX Notified Body (No. 1725). Since that time, FM Approvals has conducted hundreds of ATEX programs on behalf of customers from around the world.
The following ATEX services are available from FM Approvals:
- EC-Type Examination – process of comparing the design specifications of a product against the requirements of applicable harmonized EN standards.
- EC-Type Examination Certificate – issued following the EC-Type Examination.
- Production Quality Assurance Notification (QAN) – confirms that manufacturer operates a quality assurance system for production, final equipment inspection and testing, and is subject to ongoing surveillance.
- Product Verification – examination and tests of every product to check the conformity of the equipment, protective system or device with the requirements of the Directive.
- Conformity to Type – tests carried out by a manufacturer on each piece of equipment manufactured to check the explosion protection aspects of the design, under the auspices of a Notified Body.
- Product Quality Assurance – an approved quality system for the final inspection and testing of equipment subject to on-going surveillance.
- Unit Verification – examination of individual equipment or protective system and carry out tests as defined in the harmonized EN standards.
- Internal Control of Production & Retention of Technical File – product and quality system assessment procedure carried out by the manufacturer.
FM Approvals’ experience in evaluating products and systems for use in hazardous locations goes back more than 90 years. As a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) in the U.S., FM Approvals has extensive resources in standards development, research and testing of products intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres and other hazardous-classified locations. The FM APPROVED mark has been issued for thousands of products that have met rigorous Approval Standards for hazardous locations.
In addition to its status as an ATEX Notified Body, FM Approvals is also an Ex Certification Body (ExCB) and an Ex Testing Laboratory (ExTL) for the International Electrotechnical Commission Ex Equipment Certification Scheme (IECEx). IECEx is a globally recognized certification scheme covering equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres. FM Approvals is qualified to provide the required IECEx Quality Assessment Report (QAR) audits.
FM Approvals is also accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) as a Testing Organization and a Certification Organization, and is an ISO 9001 Registrar. For manufacturers who maintain multiple local and international certifications, FM Approvals’ vast experience and extensive accreditations provides an opportunity for consolidation and resulting benefits in faster time-to-market, increased efficiency, reduced costs and cooperative synergy on a global basis.
Transitioning your certification and audit programs to FM Approvals is a simple process that can be completed at any stage of your certifications.