The phrase “ATEX certification” is often used in engine starting, but what exactly does it mean? If you operate an offshore platform or underground mine – or if you supply products to companies that do – ATEX certification means safety.
The name ‘ATEX’ is short for “Atmospheres Explosibles”. It is a strict set of regulations that applies to products intended for use in any hazardous working environments. Products are categorised according to the level of hazard that exists in the zone they will be used.
For IPU, ATEX applies to the engine starting systems we manufacture for:
There are two different routes to having products ATEX certified. Self-certification is allowed for products in Categories 2 and 3. These products are destined for use in the less hazardous zones: 1, 2, 21 and 22. The manufacturer can stipulate that the product conforms to the necessary standards.Category 1 products are destined for use in the most hazardous areas: 0 and 20. These products can only be approved by an external agency known as a Notified Body.
Category 1 products are destined for use in the most hazardous areas: 0 and 20. These products can only be approved by an external agency known as a Notified Body. The EU list of authorised Notified Bodies can be found on the EU website.
IPU’s ATEX starter motors are ATEX-certified and approved to BS EN1834-1 and 2 standards through a 3rd party assessment. They achieve compliance through a number of factors including:
Self-regulation is a process with a poor reputation. Just ask Fifa. People are reluctant to trust self-policing organisations. Complete trust is essential where platform safety is concerned . But what level of confidence can be attached to a certificate issued by the same company that manufactured the product?
Is ATEX self-certification acceptable or a disaster waiting to happen?
ATEX is the standard that governs safety in potentially explosive working environments (including platforms and underground mines). When it comes to ATEX certification there can be no room for uncertainty. That is why IPU’s ATEX approved starters were put through rigorous 3rd party assessment to achieve certification.
If a starter motor has been self-certified but does not meet all of the requirements the results could be catastrophic. If lucky, the result will be as mild as equipment failure but if not, it could lead to the operator suffering injury or a fatality.
A number of factors could impact the quality of an ATEX self-certification assessment. Including:
IPU’s ATEX approved hydraulic and air start motors are unique. They are made using a cast iron construction to eliminate the use of aluminum. ATEX recommends against using aluminum and for good reasons. Aluminum is the primary fuel for a thermite reaction, a chemical process that gives off so much heat it is used to weld railway tracks. In most parts of the world, aluminum is banned from underground mines.
ATEX certified products display a mark that identifies the environment for which they have been approved. A typical mark could be the ATEX symbol followed by “II 2G Eexd IIB T4”. The meaning of the marks is as follows:
|Explosion-proof||In accordance with the ATEX directive|
|Equipment Group||I||For use in underground mines|
|II||For use in all other places|
|Category||1||Equipment that is intended for use in areas where an explosive atmosphere is present continuously, for long periods or frequently|
|2||Equipment that is intended for use in areas where an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation and must ensure a high level of protection.|
|3||Equipment that is intended for use in areas where an explosive atmosphere is unlikely to occur in normal operation and must ensure a normal level of protection.|
|Gas / Dust||G||Equipment certified for use in flammable gases|
|D||Equipment certified for use where dust is present in the atmosphere|
|Type of Protection||d||Flameproof|
|II||Surface above ground industries|
|Gas Sub-Group||A||Less easily ignited gases e.g. propane|
|B||Easily ignited gases e.g. ethylene|
|C||Most easily ignited e.g. hydrogen or acetylene|
|Temperature Classification||T1||842ºF (450ºC)|