Quality control procedures are essential in every kind of industrial plant. And, as you can easily understand, they become absolutely necessary especially for safety devices, the set of technologies and systems employed to avoid damages to people and machineries involved in industrial activity.
Safety-related quality is a key issue especially within Hazardous Areas, places where a risk of explosion exists due to the presence of flammable and combustible substances and potential sources of ignition. The protection of operators and equipment operating in these environments is increasingly entrusted to intrinsic safety, the approach based on the restriction of available energy levels in circuit so that ignition of the potentially explosive mixture cannot occur, both under normal operating conditions and in the event of failure.
Intrinsic safety devices are among the most effective and reliable solutions to ensure protection of people and goods, also because they have to comply with ATEX ("ATmosphères EXplosibles") Directive and the strict quality control procedures it imposes. The fundamental standards for electrical and electronic equipment are laid down by ATEX Directive 2014/34/ EU, which recently replaced the first version of 1994: five annexes to the main text identify the quality control procedures for equipment and processes.
To meet ATEX requirements, manufacturers of products intended for use in hazardous areas must respect enhanced quality standard, based on ISO 9001 but more focusing on explosion protection aspects (EN 80079-34). According to that, devices must be inspected by one of the ATEX Notified Bodies, which are responsible for verifying product conformity to the certified prototype.
These controls are intended to ensure the high quality and reliability of intrinsic safety devices, to prevent any risk of explosion and consequent damage to people or goods, minimizing the impact of any possible human error.
In the context of intrinsic safety systems, competition is increasingly based on quality rather than on mere price comparison: the real competitive advantage is solutions’ value, constantly ensured by international controls and certifications.