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How to decode a motor's nameplate 16/12/2021

TRADE ASSOCIATION the AEMT (Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) has issued handy guidance on deciphering the information found on electric motors' nameplates.

Whether you are looking to replace or repair a motor, when talking to your supplier or service provider, it is important to give them accurate details of the motor you currently have. The most relevant information should be recorded on the motor's nameplate. To help users understand the information on their motor nameplates, Karl Metcalfe, technical support at the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades, has produced this handy guide.

To specify a replacement motor or understand the requirements of a repair or rewind, several attributes need to be established. These include information such as the size and format of a motor, its power and speed ratings, how and where it has been designed to be used, its efficiency and a range of other factors.

Most motors will have a nameplate that carries this information in a format that meets standards set out by one of two bodies, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the National Electric Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Once you understand how the information is presented, it should be easy to read the nameplate on most motors and pass this information to your supplier or service partner.

In the above picture, you will see a typical motor nameplate that meets the IEC standard. Here is what different sections represent:

1  Frame size 
This indicates some of the motor's key dimensions and will usually be at the top of the nameplate as it is an important metric.
Frame sizes conform to a standard that defines a motor's dimensions and outputs. The frame size is the height of the shaft's centre from the base of the motor's foot. A 315 frame, as in this example, will have a dimension from foot to shaft of 315mm.
The number will be followed by a letter, S is for a short foot, M is for a medium foot, and L is for a large foot. This letter defines the dimension between the mounting holes on the front and back feet.

2  Power
The motor's power may be written in kilowatts (kW) or horsepower (hp). It will be written in kW on most motors, but older motors may be rated in hp.

3  Voltages
Where there is more than one voltage figure listed, the delta (△) connection is the lo-voltage connection, while the star (Y) configuration is for a high-voltage connection. The wiring diagram for both delta and star configurations will often also be added to the nameplate.

4  Speed/RPM
This is the maximum speed of the motor in revolutions per minute without a load present, and this information can also tell you how many poles your motor has.

A motor requires a minimum of two poles per phase and a 2-pole motor rotates fully for each polarity change. Therefore, at 50Hz, the theoretical maximum speed a 3-phase motor can run at is 3000rpm. So, a motor labelled as having a speed around 3,000rpm will be a 2-pole motor. The reality is slightly slower in induction motors due to losses from factors such as drag and windage – referred to as slip. As rpm halves, then the number of poles will have to double. Therefore, a motor rated at around 1500rpm (1490rpm in our example) will be a 4-pole motor. It follows then that a rating around 1000rpm will indicate a 6-pole motor, while a motor labelled near to 750rpm will have 8-poles, and a 10-pole motor will run close to 600rpm.

5  Efficiency
Efficiency is a significant factor where motors are concerned and is typically indicated by an IE number. While a lower efficiency motor can be repaired and reused, sometimes to an improved efficiency level, the Ecodesign directive governs what IE rating a new motor must have based on the application and the wider system.

IE1 is known as standard efficiency, IE2 is high efficiency, IE3 is premium efficiency, and IE4 is super premium. There is a significant difference in efficiency between IE1 and IE4. At a power rating of around 4kW, an IE1 motor is around 80% efficient, while an IE4 motor is around 90% efficient. That represents halving the losses, which can account for a significant cost saving. If a 22kW/h 4-pole IE1 motor which runs for around 8,000 hours per year is replaced with an IE3 equivalent, the saving could be in the region of £800 per year at an electricity cost of 15 pence per kW/h

6  IP rating
IP stands for ingress protection – a device's ability to stop foreign material from entering and interfering with its operation. The first of two digits after the IP represents the level of protection from solid matter and the second liquids. The first can range from 0 – no protection – to 6 – total protection from dust. The second goes from 0 – no protection from liquids – to 9 – resisting high-pressure water jets.

Other information
Some manufacturers will put the bearing sizes on their nameplates (7). And they may include a temperature rating which in our example shows the motor can run in an ambient temperature of up to 40°C (8).

The nameplate may also show what insulation class the motor has been wound to (9). The repair standard for rotating machines states that a motor can be repaired to the same or a better insulation class, so this is important information for a repair provider to have. The duty cycle may also be on the nameplate. In our example, S1 (10) stands for continuous duty and indicates that this motor has been designed to run 24/7, 365 days a year without issues – subject to scheduled maintenance. Ten duty cycle classifications cover examples such as short-term use, intermittent duty, variable load. And the number after the ~ symbol (11) indicates the phase rating of the motor - either single or three.

Your motors may also include other information, such as the Ex symbol, applied to motors designed for use in potentially explosive environments. These motors will need to be replaced with similarly rated motors and should only be repaired by a company with the expertise and ability to repair hazardous area Ex equipment. A list of certified repair specialists can be found on the AEMT’s Ex Register, held on the AEMT website.

www.theaemt.com
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Free Guide to Ecodesign Regulations for Electric Motors 09/08/2021

FOLLOWING UPDATES to the Ecodesign Directive in July this year, which revised the regulations governing the energy efficiency requirements of new electric motors, the Association for Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) has published an easy-to-use reference explaining the implications for motor users.

The guide, which can be freely downloaded from the AEMT’s website, outlines the changes which came into force under the revised Ecodesign Regulations, particularly around the energy efficiency standard newly supplied motors must meet based on their specification. In addition, the document outlines several exemptions within the regulations and highlights further changes that are due to come into force in July 2023.  

As well as technical information, the guide also explains what key aspects of the regulation mean to users of motors that fall within its scope. In addition, there are details of a study carried out by the AEMT and its US counterpart, the Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA), into the effect of repairs and rewinds on the efficiency of premium efficiency motors.   

The AEMT’s guide to the Ecodesign regulations for electric motors can be downloaded from: www.theaemt.com/technical-info/motor-eco-design-efficiencies. For more information, visit: www.theaemt.com 

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Don't ignore your stored motors 28/07/2021

KARL METCALFE, technical support at the AEMT, offers some advice on how to ensure stored electric motors are properly maintained to make sure they are ready for operation when required.

Most commercial and industrial operations will rely on electric motors and for many organisations it is standard practice to store working spares. This ensures that, in the event of a motor failure, downtimes can be minimised by swapping out the failed motor with a working spare.

For this reason, it is essential that stored motors remain operation-ready, and this does require correct management and regular servicing.

Firstly, it is important to keep stored motors protected from vibration and extremes of temperature and weather, so outdoor storage is not advisable. Ideally, electric motors should be stored indoors in a clean and dry environment.

While a climate-controlled environment is the best option for storing electric motors, in some instances this may not be possible. In such cases, the motor may need to be palletised outdoors. If this is the only option, the motor should be covered loosely with a waterproof covering, ensuring that air can circulate to help minimise condensation. It is also important to try and protect lower IP motors from pest intrusion.

Ensure that all openings, cable entries, air vents, grease pipes etc. are suitably covered or sealed during storage.

Exposed surface areas could also be coated with a corrosion inhibitor which will need to be removed before the motor goes back into service.

Protecting bearings

To protect from vibration indoors, it is also a good idea to store motors in locations that are not near any ambient vibration areas.

Bearings in stored motors have been known to fail due to fretting or false brinelling as a result of environmental vibrations, which induces small scale motion of the bearings. Even minimal ambient vibration will cause motor bearings to wear over time. Storing motors on materials that can help absorb vibration is, therefore, good practice.

Regular shaft rotation also helps to reduce bearing wear on any one point of the bearings, helping to prolong their life. The AEMT  advises that shafts are rotated at least once a month, with the shafts of larger motors turned more often.

While it is generally acknowledged that shaft turning is necessary on stored equipment, AEMT members have reported that, in practice, the task is rarely actioned often enough. So regular shaft rotation should be made someone’s responsibility, as part of a stores maintenance schedule. 

Ensuring adequate lubrication

For grease lubricated motors, the shelf life of the grease in the bearings should be a consideration. If the motor employs sealed bearings, it is very likely that if not in operation for an extended period – say two years – the grease inside the bearing will separate and will not work optimally when required to start turning again. Motors that utilise re-greaseable bearings should be regreased on average every year or so when in storage, to help prolong bearing life and ensure that the motor is fit for service when needed.

Any moisture or dampness in the air will eventually find its way into a motor and speed up the oil oxidation process. So, as well as minimising corrosion, a dry environment is advisable for storing motors to prolong the effective life of their lubrication.

The AEMT advises that before putting an oil-lubricated motor into storage, it is a good idea to first drain the oil, flush it through and replace it with fresh oil. In operational motors, the oil helps ensure that any debris or particles are held in suspension while the motor is running. But, when stationary, the debris held by the oil will sink to the bottom of the motor sump. Then, when the motor is finally started up again, all the debris will be quickly pulled through the motor.

Ensuring that stored motors are filled with the correct quantity of clean oil, and making sure that they are sealed correctly, will slow down the inevitable oil oxidisation process. In reality, however, all stored motors will be subject to some degree of temperature fluctuation, and this will cause the seals to expand and contract, allowing moisture to enter the motor.

Because the oil in a stored motor will degrade over time, it is advisable, as part of the maintenance schedule, to regularly check the oil. It is also good practice to change the oil before starting a motor after a long period of inactivity.

Testing stored motors

Before putting a motor into storage, it is also advisable to perform an insulation resistance (IR) test, which measures the total resistance between any two points separated by electrical insulation. This test determines how effective the insulation is in resisting the flow of electrical current. Before putting a motor back into service, repeat this test to ensure that any decreases in insulation effectiveness that may have occurred during storage can be addressed.

After installation, vibration levels should be recorded to evaluate the spectra on motors with rolling element bearings for any signs of bearing fault frequencies. A vibration analysis should be performed during start-up with uncoupled baseline vibration levels documented.

Ensuring availability

AEMT members have frequently reported stored motors being used as a source of unofficial spares for operational motors – most often, they are found to be missing parts such as terminal box lids and fan cowls. Obviously, this practise should be discouraged. While it is often only the intention to ‘borrow’ a part, too often, the part does not get replaced, which means that the spare motor will not be operation-ready. If this absolutely has to happen, it should be recorded in a spares inventory or similar, and the implications of not having the donor motor available as a spare assessed.

Minimising downtime is critical in many sectors, with the cost of interrupted production or operations often having significant bottom-line implications. Therefore, being able to quickly and effectively respond to issues with plant and equipment is essential. If kept in the right environment and properly maintained, motors can be safely stored for many years without encountering any problems when they are put back into service. But to ensure this is the case, a planned approach to motor storage is crucial.

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Improving standards for sustainability of electric motors 26/05/2021

With the realisation that we need to improve sustainability and preserve the world’s resources, for those operating in industrial sectors, there is an opportunity to contribute by looking at the most effective solution for motor repairs. Thomas Marks looks at the importance of considering all the options when an electric motor needs to be repaired

Many service centres for electric motors belong to the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) which encourages members to assess and deliver the most appropriate repair or replacement of a motor. This ensures that their customers have the opportunity to reduce their energy usage by upgrading to a more efficient option, or repair the asset using the latest international standards and extend the service life of the motor cost-effectively.

Improved performance

Making the best choice relies on having all the relevant information for a certain situation. The decision to replace a motor with one of a higher efficiency classification is usually governed by the initial cost against the additional savings that will be made during its service life. Depending on the application, upgrading from an IE2 to an IE3 motor may not be justified by the improvements in efficiency.

Some operators have concerns about the efficiency of a repaired motor compared to the original factory build specification

However, some operators have concerns about the efficiency of a repaired motor compared to the original factory build specification. These questions can be answered by a recent study carried out jointly by the AEMT and the Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA) in the USA. It concluded that the energy efficiency of a motor is retained after a repair that follows international standards and guides of good practice.

Furthermore, the repair or remanufacturing of a motor effectively doubles the service life of the machine, especially in modern, clean environments. The reliability of the motor is similarly extended and in many cases they will carry the same warranty period as a new machine.

For those with specialist environments that require repairs to hazardous area motors, suitably qualified and certified repair centres will follow international standards (IEC 60079 19) to ensure the continued safety of the intrinsic protection concepts. It is worth noting that only suitably trained staff should undertake such repairs, otherwise the asset record for the motor may be compromised and with it, the assurances of the manufacturer’s design.

Circular economy

The decision to repair a motor, rather than replacing it, is not only a cost-effective solution, it also minimises the amount of resources that need to be used. This is summarised in IEC 60034 23, the international standard for rotating electrical machine: repair, overhaul and reclamation. It highlights the fact that replacing the bearings in a 110 kW machine effectively doubles the life of the asset while retaining 99% of the original machine. Furthermore, the old bearings can be recycled as high quality ‘green’ steel scrap.

For a refurbishment that involves a motor rewind, 90.5% of the motor is reused and those parts that are replaced consist mainly of high-grade copper and steel scrap that can be recycled. In fact, just 0.9% by weight of the original machine, made up of varnish, grease, insulation and paint, will not be reused or recycled.

In every case, maintenance and repair centres that are members of AEMT will always consider all the options for each case and ensure that the operator is aware of both the financial and environmental costs. With all the available information, it is the responsibility of those working with electric motors to decide on the best course of action.

Thomas Marks is secretary of the AEMT

http://www.theaemt.com

Image courtesy Houghton International

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Revisited: The effect of repairs on motor efficiency 27/01/2021

As the use of premium efficiency (IE3) motors has increased, due in part to strengthened regulation, the question of maintaining motor efficiency after a rewind process has reappeared. Karl Metcalfe looks at the latest report and the procedures that were used to support these findings

ELECTRIC MOTORS place a huge demand on electrical supplies throughout the world and most countries have now introduced regulations for the minimum efficiency levels of new motors. Legislation in Europe and Internationally continues to improve the efficiency of the overall motor population. The most recent study, conducted in 2019, by AEMT and EASA has again used independent testing facilities and revealed that even these higher efficiency units are unaffected by a repair using good practice procedures.

Establishing procedures

The original study in 1998 by the AEMT and UK Government established the first Good Practice Guide, under the DETR Best Practice Programme, using 40 smaller motors of around 5.5kw supplied by manufacturers. In 2003 a very comprehensive joint study using 23 large motors was completed by AEMT and EASA in America. Considerable time was spent determining the parameters of the investigation as well as the procedures and testing facilities that would be used. As part of this process, options such as multiple rewinds and round robin testing were included in that study. As these had no effect on those results, they were not included in the latest 2019 tests. The results of that study were published as The Effect of Repair/Rewinding on Motor Efficiency. It established that efficiency was maintained on repairs to current machines up to IE3 efficiency.

The original study in 1998 by the AEMT and UK Government established the first 'Good Practice Guide'

To enable comparisons, the ten premium efficiency or IE3 motors under evaluation had similar characteristics to those in the 2003 tests. The power ratings ranged from 30 kW to 75 kW (40 hp to 100 hp) with half being IEC and half NEMA designs. They had totally enclosed fan-cooled enclosures, covered both 50 Hz and 60 Hz supplies with 2-pole and 4-pole models.

The repair procedures that were published in the Good Practice Guide to Maintain Motor Efficiency in 2003 were followed for each motor. This Good Practice Guide has now been incorporated into the latest international repair standard IEC 60034:23:2019, and the latest American Ansi/EASA standard AR100. As per the previous 2003 study the IEEE 112B test standard was used. The international IEC 60034-2-1 test standard is now harmonised with the IEEE 112B standard, so that the results of the latest study comply with both standards.

All the efficiency testing was performed at North Carolina Advanced Energy Corporation (Advanced Energy) located in Raleigh, North Carolina, using the eddy current dynamometer test stand shown in Figure 1. Currently, Advanced Energy remains the only independent motor lab in North America to hold the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) accreditation for motor efficiency testing.

Analysing results

The test results from the ten motors showed no significant change in efficiency compared to figures taken before the rewind, which mirror the results from 2003. On average there was a decrease in efficiency of just 0.1 of a percent, as this is well within the range of the standard calibration test accuracy of +/- 0.2 of a percent, it effectively means that there was no efficiency change beyond that which would normally be expected during testing.

The main conclusion that can be drawn from these results is that by using the latest international repair standards, to repair a motor, the efficiency of the machine will be maintained within the tolerances that it was originally manufactured to.

For more information on the effects of repairs and rewinding in motor efficiency, download the full study at www.theaemt.com/technical-info

Karl Metcalfe is technical support at AEMT, The Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades

www.theaemt.com

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Taking responsibility for repairs to Ex-rated motors 27/11/2020

OPERATING EQUIPMENT in potentially explosive atmospheres comes with a certain amount of responsibility, not least to use correctly designed components that have the features necessary for the environment. When maintenance and repairs are required, it is important that operators understand what is expected of them to ensure continued safety and reliability. Karl Metcalfe, Technical Support for the AEMT, looks at the knowledge and responsibilities that are expected when it comes to managing electric motors in zoned areas.

Potentially explosive atmospheres are commonly encountered in many industrial sectors including oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, water treatment, mining as well as the food and beverage industry. Specific areas that may be affected are zoned according to the potential risks and any electrical equipment in these areas must be designed and manufactured to specific standards.

International standards

Any business that has identified zoned areas within its processes is expected to adhere to a number of international and regional standards including BS EN IEC 60079-10:2019. This states the responsibilities of operators, managers and repairers to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and fit for continued service.

Equipment that is designed for Ex zoned areas uses a variety of protection concepts to ensure safe operation. Different concepts can be used in similarly zoned areas, and it is important that site maintenance engineers understand these concepts so that they do not compromise the equipment.

For example, periodic inspections and maintenance checks that involve the removal of a terminal box lid from an Ex d machine may discover corrosion has occurred. At this point, it may be necessary to check the flamepath gaps and establish if they are still sufficient for the zoned area in which the equipment is operating.

Repair essentials

When the time comes for a repair or overhaul, Ex equipment needs to be sent to a repairer that is qualified to complete the work. The international standard emphasises that it is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that any maintenance work is delivered by those with sufficient facilities and competencies.

Moreover, each piece of equipment should have its own dossier containing all the required paperwork, including details of any previous repairs and inspections. A copy of this should accompany the equipment to any approved service centre, ensuring that all available information is on-hand for the repair process.

A properly qualified repair centre will ask for this information and they will also provide all the evidence required to determine if it is qualified to deliver the repair. It is important to stress that the owner of the equipment is responsible for establishing this fact and retaining this evidence in the equipment dossier.

Minimising risks

Following the guidelines and taking on the responsibilities of operating ex-rated equipment goes a long way to minimizing the risks associated with zoned areas, keeping both employees and equipment safe. Conversely, the implications of failing to adhere to the international standard could have significant consequences, hopefully not for any personnel, but the damage to the business can be substantial.

In the event of an incident involving equipment in a zoned area, assuming no injuries were sustained, the first step to recovering the process will involve the insurance company. The investigation into the cause of the incident will start with the information dossier for all the equipment in the affected area, especially any component that is judged to be the root cause.

If any repairs have been completed by service centres that did not comply with the international standard, this could be seen as a failure to meet the terms of the insurance policy. As such, this could have major implications for funding any repairs as well as increasing the cost of future insurance policies.

Improving knowledge

Both managers and maintenance staff involved with Ex rated equipment are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of this specialised area and attend training courses appropriate for their role. This will enable the business to implement the necessary operational and managerial processes to comply with the international standard.

To provide further assistance, the AEMT has an Ex register (www.ex-register.com) which lists all members that hold various certifications including ISO 9001, and AEMT Ex Assessment Certificates. IECEx service centres are independently audited by a notifying body and maintain their 3-year refresher training to achieve certified accreditation.

http://www.theaemt.com

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2020 AEMT Awards - call for nominations 07/05/2020

Scheduled for Thursday 26th November 2020, at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Coventry, the fourth AEMT Gala Awards Dinner will once again bring together the entire electrical and mechanical trades sector in a celebration of business and professional excellence.

Recognising and rewarding the achievements of both individuals and companies operating within the electrical & mechanical maintenance and repair sector, personal endeavour, product innovation, skills training, engineering advancement and commercial acumen will once again be acknowledged and celebrated.

Industry wide engagement

Operated by the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) and produced by Touchwave Media, the awards will for the fourth consecutive year acknowledge the skill, effort and sheer dedication of the people and businesses serving this important sector of industry.  With sponsorship provided by a host of leading industry names, which to date has included ABB, Avonmore Electrical, Axflow, EMIR Software, Fanuc UK, Fletcher Moorland, Menzel, Musk Process Services, Sulzer, TEC Motors and WEG UK along with extensive promotional support afforded by the two publications dedicated to this sector - Plant & Works Engineering and Drives & Controls – well deserved industry-wide recognition will be given to those businesses, who are excelling in their endeavours.
 
Award categories
The following seven categories make up the 2020 awards programme: -

  • Product of the Year
  • Project of the Year
  • Service Centre of the Year
  • Supplier of the Year
  • Contribution to Skills & Training Award
  • Rising Star Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

Call for nominations

Entries are being sought for any company, product, application or individual involved in the supply, installation, service, maintenance and repair of industrial machinery technology such as electric motors, drives, pumps, fans, gearboxes, generators, transformers, switchgear and ancillary equipment.  Individuals can put forward entries for themselves and their own company, or they can nominate others that they know merit recognition.  The online entry process couldn’t be easier, so anyone wishing to play their part in highlighting engineering excellence should visit the AEMT Awards website – www.aemtawards.com.

Closing date for entries

The closing date for all entries is 5.00pm on Friday 9th October, so for those wanting industry-wide recognition for a job well done, be it for product innovation or project management, for application know-how, or service and repair, they should make a note of this key date.

It is free of charge to enter the awards, but the promotional value associated with being selected as a finalist is worth many hundreds of pounds.  And for those individuals and companies fortunate enough to be announced as one of the seven winners during the charged atmosphere of the gala awards dinner, the promotional benefit is even greater.

Further details

For more information, visit the website www.aemtawards.com or contact the awards programme producers, Touchwave Media, by phone on 07785 290034 or by email at andrew@touchwavemedia.co.uk.

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Decarbonising publication to spur new thinking on motors and generators 19/11/2019

The Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) has advised on the content of a new booklet, DecarbEurope, which is being distributed to policy makers and legislators around Europe.

The objective for DecarbEurope is to inform political and industrial leaders about issues surrounding decarbonisation across Europe, and to discuss cost-effective and timely solutions. It was produced by the European Copper Institute, which consulted with several influential industry bodies across Europe, including the AEMT.

Thomas Marks, Secretary to the AEMT, explains that part of the association’s remit is to shape the industries its members serve: “While much of our work is providing services directly to our members, we also work on a wider canvas where we engage with government bodies and other institutions to promote members’ long term interests.”

Currently, 50% to 70% of all the electricity generated in Europe is used to drive electric motors, and the population of motors is likely to grow significantly with the rise of electric vehicles and domestic heat pumps. The AEMT is recognised for its expertise on ensuring the efficiency of electric motors and generators.

The booklet covers many subjects, some that could have an immediate effect, others that are more long term. It notes that carbon emissions are a worldwide problem, not one confined to just Europe, and includes the calculation that Europe alone has the potential to reduce energy consumption by 23 TWhrs a year by implementing efficiency measures using currently available technologies. For instance, it states that half of all motor systems would save energy if fitted with variable speed drives.

“On a practical level, DecarbEurope promotes the regular revision of energy efficiency standards to keep pace with development in the enabling technologies,” explains Thomas. “It also encourages faster replacement of old, relatively inefficient motors with new, greener ones.

“Importantly, it encourages the adoption of motor designs that make repair, re-manufacturing, and durability as attractive as possible, which is an issue close to the hearts of AEMT Service Centres.”

As well as printed copies, DecarbEurope is available online at https://www.slideshare.net/sustenergy/electric-motor-systems-decarbeurope.

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What effect will Brexit have on standards & compliance for hazardous area industries? 23/05/2017

Tim Marks represents the AEMT as a member of BSI, IEC, and IECEx standards committees for Explosive Atmospheres and Rotating Electrical Equipment. Here he looks at some of the issues facing the Hazardous Area industry now that the UK Parliament has agreed to Brexit.

There are currently a lot of blank faces, particularly in Whitehall when it comes to the subject of standards, directives, and compliance in the wake of Brexit, but what does it mean for the Hazardous Area industries and will it cause problems for companies doing business in the UK?

The main message here is a sense check; first, one needs to understand the difference between standards and Directives:

Technical standards embody the best practice put together by technical experts to create a uniform engineering or technical criteria. They are becoming more and more international, are not mandatory, and will not be affected by Brexit.

European directives, may have technical input, but emanate from the European Parliament. They must be embodied into the laws of each EU member and are mandatory. The two however are often interlinked and standards can be used to support and help meet European directive requirements.

The European Directives are designed to create a level playing field for trade within the EU. They may also form a technical barrier to goods emanating from outside the EU. They cover all angles of trade, from machinery and transport to eco-design, health, safety etc.

Hazardous Areas are covered by the ATEX Directives for potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX emanates from the French: ATmosphères EXplosibles). There are two ATEX directives: ATEX 95, originally ATEX 94/9/EC, but superseded by ATEX 2014/34/EU on April 20, 2016, and ATEX 137, workplace directive 99/92/EC covering Health and Safety on site.

There is then the legislation that embodies the ATEX directives into the UK legal system.

DSEAR (The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations).

To a large degree these directives create an invisible barrier to trade with Europe, and are items that will still need to be conformed to after Brexit. Every item manufactured in Europe or manufactured outside the EU for use in an EU zoned hazardous area has to have a valid certificate of compliance to the ATEX directives.

The certificate gives information on the results of testing for compliance with the ATEX directive and named standards, as well as safety issues, labelling details, etc. The certificate is only issued after three samples of each item have been extensively tested in an accredited laboratory by a Notified Body in the EU. This can be a very expensive hurdle for a company wishing to sell its product range into Europe, however, ATEX is no different to the barriers that EU companies meet if they wish to export to the US where they have to meet UL or FM standards, or the Canadian CSA standards, Japan, China, Russia etc.

So what are the top seven problems that may affect the UK Hazardous Area Industry after Brexit?

Will Brexit affect UK manufacturers and importers - who already ensure that their products have the required ATEX certificates? If the UK continues to ensure that products manufactured, or imported, into the UK, abide by the ATEX Directives, discussions over ease of access to the EU countries by the Customs Union Committee should be more straightforward. The existing ATEX certificates will ensure ease of access into the European market.

Will Brexit affect the users - from international oil and chemical companies to local flourmills? There would be no advantage in the UK deciding not to comply with the ATEX Directives and many advantages in keeping the status quo. Users of Hazardous area equipment will still specify, buy and conform to the ATEX directives as long as DSEAR in the UK continues to embody the ATEX Directives.

Will the government alter DSEAR if it no longer needs to comply with Europe? DSEAR ensures that everything manufactured or imported to the UK still complies with the European Directive. ATEX works well and is well respected internationally. Its requirement in the UK protects our markets from a flood of non ATEX compliant equipment, and should continue to facilitate the free movement of Hazardous Area Equipment from the UK to Europe, and vice versa.

Will UK companies still be able to manufacture to European standards and Directives? Standards are becoming more and more international and most of the developed countries are signed into adopting the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) or IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards. Both are now based in Switzerland and produce international standards for adoption by member countries. The majority of these are harmonised into the European CEN or CENELEC standards systems, and most EU members are also members of ISO and IEC. Occasionally CEN or CENELEC will produce a standard as a result of a new directive, and this can go the other way and stimulate the production of a corresponding ISO or IEC document. All standards are readily available for anyone or any manufacturer to purchase and comply with.

Will the UK be able to have input into the ATEX Directives; Fortunately ATEX directives are quite mature now and after 20 years have just had some minor updates. The UK took part in the consultation process and provided technical and procedural input during the review to produce the updated ATEX 2014/34/EU. We may not officially be able to attend future consultations, or have any MEPs to comment on new directives, however the results of the process and every consultation is available on line. Technical alterations to Directives often encompass alterations to the International Standards, which the UK is well represented on. I am sure that the UK voice would also be heard through international federations and UK international companies with representation in the EU.

Will the UK still be able to have input into the European and International standards. Generally as these standards become available or go through a maintenance update, they are harmonised into the European standards CEN or Cenelec for IEC electrical standards. These standards are then adopted by EU member states (in the UK they are adopted as a British Standard). Occasionally there will be notes at the beginning of a standard for local requirements, these can be numerous in some countries, but are becoming unusual in the UK. Generally we are very well represented on standards committees, and any problems we foresee in a standard are normally solved at the committee stage. Standards are not a legal requirement, but they normally help manufacturers and users meet their legal obligations. They also create a high standard of best practice for products and create a level playing field for products entering a market and a standardisation of products produced for that market.

Will our notified bodies for Potentially Explosive Atmospheres retain EU notified body status after Brexit? This is an important issue. The EU has 67 notified bodies in this segment. Eight of them are in the UK, compared to 12 in Germany, 10 in Italy, 6 in Poland, and 3 in Turkey, other EU members such as France have 2, 1, or no notified bodies.

Turkey is perhaps the exception that proves the rule, which may help Brexit negotiations. Turkey is not even a member of EFTA, but this decision was issued by the Customs Union Joint Committee in document 2006/654/EC for “the elimination of technical barriers to trade in a particular product” and facilitate the progress of Turkey’s application to join the EU”. This does ring alarm bells if we have declared that we are leaving the Customs Union. The current UK notified Bodies will require a similar decision from the Customs Union Joint Committee to the one above. The notified bodies in the UK are well respected internationally and have a wealth of technical experience. They do a large amount of business with European and international companies requiring Certificates of Conformity for ATEX to sell their products in the EU. This includes products from America, China, and internationally, as well as those manufactured anywhere within the EU. Manufacturers not only require new prototypes testing, but continually modify and update their products. If this is to continue in the UK after Brexit, the sooner a Joint Customs Union Committee agreement is reached to clarify the situation, the better.

The UK notified bodies need to be at the front of the negotiation agenda once Brexit is formalised. There are 188 bodies listed by the EU, who can test and issue Certificates of Conformity with directives covering everything from Shipping and Rail to manufactured products, medicines etc. These range from the UK accreditation company UKAS to specialist companies like SGS Baseefa, an AEMT member. These bodies use their specific expertise to test for conformity with every mandatory Directive including ATEX, Machinery Directive, Marine Equipment Directive, Pressure Equipment Directive, Lifts Directive, Low Voltage Directive, etc. The list is long and covers every area. To facilitate trade agreements with the EU, the UK Government will probably negotiate to abide by most of the directives, such as ATEX.

The 188 bodies involved in testing and accreditation are world class companies employing staff with very specialist technical abilities. Many of them stand on International Standards Committees and facilitate a huge amount of international trade in the oil, chemical and other industries. It is imperative that the UK Government ensures that Brexit and a split from the Customs Union does not jeopardise the incredibly valuable work that these companies carry out internationally, and ensure that this industry, maintains its leading place on the world class stage.

There are many active groups looking after the interests of the industry, who will continue to communicate with the marketplace about developments and changes, as well as providing sensible advice to government committees. However, now is the time to address these issues.

The mechanisms are in place to continue to ensure compliance doesn’t become any more complex or onerous, and that our ability to do business successfully remains largely unaffected by this particular aspect of Brexit.

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