History of the Australian Hazardous Area Equipment Certification Scheme
There are various authorities in Australia and New Zealand concerned with the safety of electrical installations in hazardous areas. These include the electrical regulatory authorities, departments of mines, departments of labour and industry and the insurance industry.
The needs of these bodies for appropriate Standards are catered for through their membership of committees such as Standards Australia committee EL-014, which prepares Standards that take into account the special conditions and risks which exist in hazardous areas. However some 40 years ago there was seen to be a need for these authorities to participate in a national certification scheme.
Consequently and during the early 1960s Standards Australia set up an approvals type scheme for Ex equipment, referred to in later years as the P-003 scheme which operated under the direction of the Standards Australia P-003 committee, certification of explosion–protected electrical equipment. It was the Standards Australia committee responsible, for considering applications for certification and for authorising the issue of Certificates of Compliance or Statements of Opinion. It also advised regulatory authorities and industry on matters relating to the application of Australian Standards to electrical equipment for use in hazardous areas. The P-003 committee comprised representatives from state electrical and mining regulatory authorities. Under this scheme the committee met every two months to consider applications using test reports and in most instances samples to arrive at a decision. During the early 1990s the process of logging an application with Standards Australia, then submitting a sample to the testing station, was streamlined and replaced with AUSEx Scheme under the rules outlined in MP69.
The AUSEx Scheme served the Australian industry well over the past 30 years but Australia participation in the international IECEx Scheme meant that a stocktake of the AUSEx Scheme needed to be undertaken with the result that the ANZEx Scheme was introduced to cater to the needs of industry and align with international practice for conformity assessment.
Another major reason for the review of the AUS Ex Scheme was the initiation of the publication as AS/NZS of all the relevant IEC Standards in the field of Hazardous Areas/Explosive Atmospheres. This created the need to incorporate all these adopted Standards in the AUSEx Scheme as shown in AS/NZS 2381.1.
The AUSEx Scheme was an ISO System 1 (Type Test) scheme.The ANZEx and IECEx Schemes are both ISO System 5 Schemes which involve three basic elements: Type test, Quality Assurance and Ongoing Surveillance of manufacturers.
Changing commercial and industrial conditions due to takeovers and different distribution outlets, where more than one Certificate may be issued for the same product, highlighted the limitations of Type Test Certification. Identification of the ‘manufacturer’ became important and this has some overseas approval and certification agencies include assessment of manufacturers’ Product Quality Planning as a mandatory requirement of Ex Certification.
Assessment, testing and certification of hazardous area electrical equipment under IECEx Scheme is now accepted by Australia and New Zealand. This has resulted in the replacement of the AUSEx Scheme with the ANZEx Scheme, which includes Manufacturers’ Product Quality Planning as a mandatory requirement. This enables manufacturers’ to prepare themselves for the IECEx Scheme. Today we operate the ANZEX Scheme under MP87, and this Scheme, to a large degree, mirrors the IECEx Certification Scheme, both of which are acceptable in Australia and New Zealand.