Products intended for use in hazardous areas need to consider design and material choice, usually involving more arduous testing and approvals than standard industrial products. Furthermore, the products need to be approved by a Notified Body. In this article we provide insights into developing a hazardous area product and how working with a Notified Body can help streamline the process.
Selling Hazardous Area Products Around the World
If you are planning to have your product available for sale across the world, in general, you will need ATEX, IECEx and North American approvals. Other countries may not fully accept these approvals, but they often form the basis of all certifications and having them often goes a long way towards obtaining approval globally.
Selecting a Notified Body that can either perform these approvals in-house or have close local relationships in each region is highly valuable. This means that during the design phase you can check your design as it progresses with a Notified Body to prevent any design or engineering errors.
Inclusive and Fast Response
The adage ‘Time is money’ is so real when designing a product. Spotting wrong design decisions early always leads to less design rework and product development cost. Notified Bodies for hazardous area product approval are not in abundance and competition for their time is often fierce. Building a good working relationship with the Notified Body’s engineers who are working on your project will reap rewards. Collaborating with the engineers early in the process is critical to reducing design lifecycle costs.
Controlling Costs During Hazardous Area Approval
Getting a hazardous area product approved can feel like you are buying an expensive car! Building strong relationships with Notified Bodies can help you navigate the nuances of certification. The certification process can cost upward of $50,000 to get approvals covering ATEX, IECEx and North American certification and require significant changes to your existing quality processes. As a business you are subject to a yearly audit at an additional cost to maintain your certification. For North American certified products, audits are required four times a year at a much higher cost to the business. Having a close relationship with a selection of Notified Bodies can help you avoid unnecessary errors and additional costs during this process.
Testing Hazardous Area Products for Approval
Certain ATEX standards require testing to be performed to ensure that the product is safe within the Zone or Class that the product is intended for. Many of Extronics products are designed to be intrinsically safe. From an electronics design point of view having the ability to simulate the circuit design before testing, again, will lead to reduced costs and design time. For a circuit that needs to be intrinsically safe the board may need to undergo spark ignition testing. Simulating the design to see if it is likely to pass beforehand is valuable and can speed up the approval process.
Often hazardous area products carry a premium in price compared to standard industrial products. The extra design effort, thorough testing and certification costs are part of this reason. Furthermore, the materials selected need to pass certain testing criteria – for example non-metallic materials may require an electrostatic check. There is not an abundance of suppliers of these materials on the market which can lead to more expensive materials being used.
Choosing the right Notified Body and building a strong working relationship with them is critical to launching a hazardous area product. Spending time researching those available and where possible a good reference can certainly lead to lower development costs.