Unlike intrinsically safe equipment that can meet one of several different sets of standards, Atex product certification has very rigid specifications. The Atex directive derives from two European directives that set requirements for what equipment is allowed in potentially explosive environments, such as chemical plants and oil refineries. It goes well beyond requirements that computers such as Tuff computers or rugged computers, which are made to survive abusive environments, but are not necessarily safe for explosive atmospheres.
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For example, rugged computers are good for military personnel in the desert because they can withstand being banged, knocked, or dropped, as well as being sealed up so that sand cannot interfere with the computer’s operation. However, these types of computers are not safeguarded against the electrical discharge inherent in computers. They could cause sparks that set off an explosion in a mine, on an oil rig, or in an area where there has been a chemical spill in a factory. This is where Atex computers are required.
With the particular nature of an Atex computer, the testing is much more complicated. Certification must be conducted by a Notified Body, who will issues the certification if the product meets the standards. Once the certification is earned, the Notified Body will periodically review the quality of the product to ensure it continues to meet the requirements for health and safety.
Companies provide certain information for certification to help better understand how much is required to achieve the Atex label.
- Companies should define the product concept and desired parameters to help determine what certification path is appropriate for the device.
- Companies need to understand the specifications and testing prior to submitting devices.
- Companies may have groups or divisions whose sole purpose is to understand the requirements, and to monitor changes following certification.
With so much forethought going into the devices, as well as post-certification, Atex equipment does not tend to suffer from many of the problems of regular computers. It also helps buyers feel more confident in their purchases as it requires a much more thorough review process. This is absolutely essential given the circumstances under which the devices will be used.
There are some products that are Atex but are not intended for potentially explosive environments, and those devices can proceed through more lenient certification. All equipment should be checked before purchase to ensure that they are proper for the intended use.
Should the certification requirements be changed, companies that have Atex equipment must either verify that the changes do not apply to their products or they must update their devices to meet the latest requirements. This is very important, particularly for industries that require intrinsically safe equipment, because technology is an industry that is in a constant state of change. Companies are given an adequate amount of time to bring their products up to date, but they do have a deadline to meet the changes. this ensures that the devices use the latest technological advances to maximize the safety of workers who operate in hazardous conditions.
Mark works closely with ecom instruments an helps to spread the word about safety standards and what is involved in ensuring electronic equipment can be used safely in high risk areas.
This article is contributed by Mark and posted by Rizwan Ahmad Author and founder of cyberockk.com, He is a tech blogger from India and he loves to share his thoughts by writing articles on this site to the different topics related to technology world,