Why do we need an ExTA – now?
Since the 1990s there has been a significant expansion in the standards and an array of regulatory changes related to hazardous areas. Not just in Australia but overseas as well. These changes are set to continue for many years to come. In North America , UK and Europe there are associations and forums focussed on hazardous areas but there has been nothing in our region. The issues we face are not just ours. In a global environment, we need to meet the challenges with the right momentum and industry understanding in the ANZ region and be able to influence global developments.
What are these issues facing industry?
- Standards Australia seeking to divest itself of management of the ANZEx certification scheme for certification of explosion –protected electrical equipment and services. The ExTA will also make a case to be considered to take over the management body function of the ANZEx scheme if it can prove itself as sustainable body.
- The development of future mechanical standards and certification of mechanical equipment for hazardous areas. This has even more potential to change the face of installations in hazardous areas than electrical equipment. For example in the Oil, Gas and Petrochemical industry the non-mechanical content is in the order of 90% balance of plant compared to electrical. The cost factor for equipment to the new standards and certification of mechanical equipment could far outweigh the electrical component.
- ‘Experts’ at all levels and from all sectors needing to reach a common ground to avoid rework, confusion and cost.
- Streamlining Australian practices to remain competitive. Already our industries are known as more expensive in this space than other countries, (sometimes up to 3 times more expensive than comparable overseas installations either due to initial costs or rework on imported items to meet out standards).
- Maintaining and developing a knowledge and skill base based on both current and future developments in this field.
- Linking all of the areas that are affected by hazardous areas i.e. all onshore Groups I, II and III, all offshore fixed and mobile oil and gas installations and other industries such as aviation which may have North American hazardous area equipment.
- Australia & New Zealand accepting international standards other than IEC / ISO for specialised applications
- Rising influence of countries with low cost of manufacture, where there are ongoing issues with quality control and competency.
Who is calling for the EXTA to exist?
Ross De Rango, NHP
“As a business manager from an importer and manufacturer of Hazardous Area Equipment, the value I see in EXTA is the opportunity to interact with a broad cross section of industry and regulatory bodies in the Ex space at regular technical forums. Of particular value to our business is the opportunity to learn more about industry needs, which enables us to position ourselves to better meet those needs”.
As Principal Engineer Instrumentation and Controls from an Australian based onshore and offshore oil and gas operator and end user of nationally and internationally sourced hazardous area equipment the value we see in EXTA is to;
- Have ExTA established as an influential and respected voice representing the Ex industry through knowledge and leadership from a broad cross section of Australian and New Zealand representation.
- Of particular value to our business is to share and feedback the plant operators experience which influences the entire life cycle of Ex equipment with Manufactures, Service Providers, Standards Organizations and Regulators.
“As an engineering manager from a hazardous area equipment designer and manufacturer, the value we see in EXTA is to provide a forum for our technical staff to objectively debate the application and interpretation of relevant standards and regulations: where end users, certifying bodies, regulators and manufacturers can collectively address specific technical issues outside the typical constraints of live commercial projects. Furthermore, in the particular field of underground coal mining, the national forum will add weight to the retention and development of domestic standards that are arguably superior to existing international standards in the same industry.” – Ian Webster, Group Engineering Manager, Ampcontrol.
As a member of Australian and IEC standards committees for hazardous areas I see a number of values that are offered by the ExTA. Importantly for me, the ExTA can provide a portal for industry to both learn about interpretations, new issues and trends in the development of standards and to understand and provide feedback which can help shape these developments. The flow on from this knowledge and possible influence can provide significant cost benefits for most end users. Neil Dennis, AECOM Australia.
From my part I believe we need to have our own EX Scheme for Australia, especially due to group 1 extra requirements for safety and fit for purpose reasons.
If we let the ANZEx Scheme fall over we then only have the IEC to rely on, I believe we would leave ourselves exposed in Group 1 For example we know that AS/NZS 3800:2012 Electrical equipment for explosive atmospheres - Repair and overhaul came out because IEC Ex 60079.19 was not stringent enough for our Group 1 requirements.
I also believe part of the expansion of the ANZEx Scheme is to include Certifying Personnel (MP87.1 Equipment, MP87.2 Facilities) and then MP87.3 to be developed for Certifying Personnel. This then would allow us the ability to make sure anyone entering Australia with other Personal Certification, confirmation they are Competent to Australian levels by assessing them against MP87.3
Besides the obvious advantages of the above;
Techserve exists in the Coal Mining Industry as a Certified Overhaul and Repair Facility, RTO and an end user, and as the NSW Branch Manager I believe the value of the ExTA is allowing us the opportunity to interact with a broad cross section of industry including regulatory bodies in the Ex realm at regular technical forums. It would assist in allowing us to keep up to date with Industry issues which enables us to better assist in overcoming those issues.