Published on 28-May-2021

Test devices of the Ex series for use in potentially explosive areas: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Test devices of the Ex series for use in potentially explosive areas: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Fires and explosions are a major problem in many testing applications, such as testing pipelines that carry gas or flammable substances. No other security aspect receives more attention in the industry in the form of protection classes, standards and technical documentation and development. Hazardous materials or hazardous environments industries are often subject to rigorous processes, regulations, and equipment requirements for any potentially hazardous work, including regular non-destructive testing. In fact, even testers who regularly use test equipment must have a special hot temperature work permit in order to test in certain areas.

To support our customers in tesknowting in hazardous environments, three of our most popular devices ( test device EPOCH 650, Bond tester BondMaster 600, Eddy current tester NORTEC 600) available as ATEX-compliant models. In addition to saving time and reducing costs, these Ex series devices allow you to work safely in hazardous environments.

What does ATEX mean?

The acronym ATEX originally comes from the French AT mosphères EX plosibles (English: explosive atmospheres).

Today ATEX is the name for the two directives of the European Union for the control of potentially explosive areas. The first directive 1999/92 / EC (also known as ATEX 137 or ATEX workplace directive) regulates the minimum requirements for improving the health and safety of workers who can be endangered by explosive atmospheres. The second directive 1994/9 / EG (also known as ATEX 9 or ATEX Equipment Directive) regulates devices and protective systems for their intended use in potentially explosive areas. The regulations apply to all electrical or mechanical devices that are used in potentially explosive areas.

What is a hazardous area?

Simply put, hazardous areas can be caused by flammable gases, mists, vapors, or combustible dust. If a sufficient amount of these dangerous substances mixes with the air, they can explode if there is an ignition source (sparks). Hazardous areas are a major risk in the chemical, petrochemical, power generation, aerospace and mining industries. In some cases, a special hot temperature work permit or ATEX compliant device is required.

Can ATEX-compliant devices from Olympus be used in all potentially explosive areas?

No. The requirements of the ATEX directive are complex and the marking on the device clearly indicates which device components are ATEX-compliant. The test devices EPOCH 650 Ex, BondMaster 600 Ex and NORTEC 600 Ex all meet the requirements of the ATEX directive with the same restrictions.

What do the letters and numbers of the ATEX marking on the device mean?

The marking indicates the restrictions under which the device can be used in potentially explosive areas.

  • CE: The device meets the requirements for product safety, health protection and environmental protection of the European Economic Area.
  • Ex: Approved for use in potentially explosive areas
  • II: Device class II, not approved for use in mining.
  • 3: Product Category 3, approved for use in areas where flammable materials do not occur frequently or for a long time.
  • G: Product category G, approved for use in potentially explosive areas with gas, steam or mist (no dust).
  • Ex ic: intrinsic safety protection concept during normal operation (IEC protection class c)
  • IIA: Gas class IIA, propane gases such as acetone, petroleum fuel, ammonia, ethane, methanol, carbon monoxide, propane, n-butane, ethanol, diesel fuel, kerosene, avgas and ethyl nitrate.
  • T4: Temperature class T4, unprotected device components must not exceed 135 ° C.
  • Gc: Equipment protection level Gc, for use in environments where explosive gases do not occur frequently or for a short time.
  • IP54: IP protection class IP54, device is protected against dust and water jets from all sides.
  • -10 ° C <room temperature <50 ° C: operating temperature range, devices of the Ex series are designed for use in the specified hazardous areas at temperatures between -10 ° C and 50 ° C.
  • OLYMPUS 16.EP650: Product ATEX Certificate Certificate.
  • X: Device is only designed for use under the specific conditions of the label.

Is there a US equivalent to ATEX?

There is no direct equivalent. In the US there is a different classification system based on the National Electric Code.

Intrinsically safe or explosion-proof - where should the ATEX directive be classified?

The term intrinsically safe is often used to identify products that are designed for hazardous (explosive) areas. Intrinsic safety is a protection concept that is based on limiting the available electrical energy to a non-flammable level without sparks, so that no explosive area is ignited.

Just like the term intrinsically safe, explosion-proof is often used incorrectly to identify devices suitable for industrial use. In order to obtain an explosion-proof classification, an enclosure must be able to hold back all explosions that originate from its enclosure and prevent sparks from occurring in the enclosure before they exit the enclosure, so that no explosive area around the device is ignited.

Devices of the Ex series can be regarded as intrinsically safe and explosion-proof if they are used in accordance with the ambient conditions specified on the ATEX label. It would be wrong to say that Ex devices are intrinsically safe or explosion-proof without specifying the conditions under which the devices are ATEX-compliant.

What are the differences between the ATEX directive, the IP protection class and the MIL-STD-810 military standard?

The IP protection class is specified with the letters "IP" and two digits. The first digit stands for the degree of protection against the ingress of foreign bodies (such as dust) and the second digit stands for the degree of protection against the ingress of water. The higher the code numbers, the higher the degree of protection (0 - 6 for foreign bodies and 0 - 8 for water).

MIL-STD-810 is a US military standard that specifies how devices must be tested for various environmental stresses. The standard includes several procedures to test the device for resistance to moisture, salt spray, vibration, mechanical shock, freezing rain, and more.

The ATEX directive goes beyond this and is specifically geared towards the suitability of a device for use in potentially explosive areas.

Are there physical differences between a standard device and an ATEX-compliant device?

It should be noted that Ex devices are a little larger and heavier than standard devices. Ex devices also have an aluminum housing and not a plastic housing, a screen protector and a differently colored rubber protector. Most importantly, the Ex series devices, just like the standard models, have the same familiar features, functions and results.

Where can Olympus Ex devices be used?

The devices of the Ex series are approved for use in environments where flammable propane gases (gas class IIA) rarely occur, at temperatures between -10 ° C and 50 ° C. The Ex devices are not approved for use in areas with explosive dust, in environments in which flammable gases usually occur, or in mines.

How do I know that my test environment requires an ATEX-compliant test device?

Establishing the test location classification requires very good knowledge of the test location. Before deciding which classification to assign to the test site, a comprehensive investigation of the test site must be carried out. The responsible audit authority classifies a specific area.


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