The aim of the IECEx system is to clear the way for overseas trade in equipment and services for use in explosive atmospheres, while maintaining the required level of safety.
The IECEx scheme is a means of ensuring that equipment independently assessed and certified as explosion proof – referred to as Ex equipment – is safe for use in areas where there is potential for an explosive concentration of gases, vapours or combustible dusts.
The IECEx is a global quality based product certification scheme based on ISO 9001: 2000.
MSTC’s Thornton-based centre is staffed by specialised mine safety scientists and engineers who provide testing and conduct research projects.
A modern coal mining industry requires an increased need to use high-powered electrical equipment in hazardous zones.
Often the high-powered equipment is controlled by intrinsically safe control systems.
Ex equipment is required to be managed throughout its life cycle, which encompasses safe design, independent certification, installing, maintaining and overhauling by competent people and according to strict Ex standards.
Technologies, when used in hazardous environments, become an ignition source.
MSTC can provide internationally recognised certification for intrinsically safe (Ex) products and has ready access to the latest knowledge and methods for conformity assessment.
There is international oversight of the MSTC operations in this area.
It gives industry another provider for these services and in particular a local provider as there is a number of major manufacturers who have recently established facilities in the NSW Hunter region.
Local companies can have their products certified to IECEx standards so they can be sold internationally.
Test reports and certificates of conformity are portable and recognised by all members in the scheme.
Industry also has a one-stop-shop for gas detection equipment as the MSTC can certify equipment to IECEx standards as well as conduct all of the performance testing for registration in NSW.
The department also has staff with worldwide recognition who can provide technical advice in investigations into incidents involving Ex equipment.
The amount of Ex equipment being used underground continues to grow, which creates more demand for certification services, both for new equipment and the modification of existing products.