From now on we can supply screw conveyors for an ATEX category 1 environment with reduced leadtimes. We have received an ATEX type approval from notified body TÜV-Rheinland for the majority of the machines that we make for category 1.
Machines that are used in explosive environments must have ATEX approval. Previously we had to have each individual screw conveyor inspected by a TÜV inspector before it received an ATEX approval.
“This is a time-consuming and expensive process”, says Eric de Jong, Manager of Operations at Van Beek. To make the lead time shorter and reduce the costs we started the process for a type approval. “This means an inspector no longer has to come and visit for the machines you build according to the specifications of the type approval.”
History based experience
This type approval is not issued automatically, says De Jong. “TÜV has been coming here for years. The inspectors have assessed hundreds of our machines for the different ATEX categories, which means we have what they call history based experience: we have proved over all this time that we meet the requirements. The inspectors have seen that our documentation is in order and they know the workmanship of our production staff.”
A second point that we had to demonstrate is that the machines are always produced in the same way and hence meet certain quality requirements. “This is in short what you describe in quality standard ISO 9001:2015, which Van Beek has already complied with for some years.”
Test machine for TÜV
Early last year we produced a test machine which TÜV was able to get to grips with, says De Jong. “This test machine was equipped with every possible extension that we want to include within the type approval.”
Tested to the extreme
We have for example fitted the conveyor with different drives and various types of shaft seals. “A TÜV inspector was busy here for two days testing the machine to the extreme to see how it behaved.”
Valid for three quarters of our machines
The inspector has prepared a report and in combination with a specific assessment of the management system we have received the type approval according to ISO 80079-34:2018, according to the ATEX directive and the IECEx system. Due to the type approval, De Jong calculates that the inspector will no longer need to visit for over three quarters of the ATEX category 1 machines that we make. “This makes the process a lot less time-consuming.”
Investment pays for itself
Obtaining the type approval has been a substantial investment, but this pays for itself with a shorter lead time and lower costs for the customer. Just as for ISO9001:2015 quality standardisation, we are periodically audited by the TÜV to maintain the ATEX type approval. “This gives us an advantage over suppliers who do not have this type approval”, says De Jong. “It shows that we are leading the way here too and meet high quality requirements.”