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Automation Technologies 4/2015

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Automation Technologies 4/2015

Safety certifications,

Safety certifications, key to enter international markets Dirk Müller To market a control panel for controlling machinery or plant equipment, the control panel must comply with numerous guidelines. This means system integrators must be able to rely on the certifications of their hardware platform. Since there are no uniform standards as yet, manufacturers and system integrators should know their target market’s safety regulations as well as the exact application of the product. International market access is of obvious importance for all businesses. If, for example, a British company designs a control system with a circuit board for the American market, and then contracts a Chinese company to manufacture, before it performs essential testing to determine electromagnetic compatibility, it may very well be forced to change the layout of its completed circuit boards again. This is because standards in the U.S. and Europe for various aspects of the circuit boards differ considerably. Author: Dirk Müller, Manager Principle Engineer, Underwriters Laboratories UL listing assists with market access To date, safety requirements for industrial automation technology in the U.S. are specified in the product standards for industrial control systems, UL508A and NFPA79, the counterparts to the European standards IEC/EN 61439 and IEC/EN 60204. These are granted by UL, the main certification body for product safety in the U.S. UL is a non-profit organization, and is responsible for numerous standardization processes in the U.S. For example, the standard for installation of electrical equipment, NFPA 70, also known as the National Electric Code (NEC), and NFPA 79: Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, refer repeatedly to UL standards. Every year, the UL mark appears on more than 21 billion products made by more than 71,000 manufacturers. The advantage of the CB procedure is that, with a single test by UL, manufacturers can obtain the national conformity marks of more than fifty countries. Like a passport, a CB certificate allows direct market access for many countries. But, analogous to visa procedures, some countries have additional national requirements a product must meet in order to obtain market access. In the U.S. – Canada and Mexico have different requirements for example – the National Electric Code is the applicable installation guideline for hardware platforms. Individual product and application standards for manufacturers and system integrators are described in detail. Thus industrial control panels are certified to UL508A, power distribution boards with AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 4/2015

COMPONENTS AND SOFTWARE plug-in units to UL845 (motor control centers), power distribution boards to UL891 (switchboards), and consumer panelboards to UL67 (panelboards). The UL standards include comprehensive technical details concerning electrical product safety, flammability, and mechanical hazards. Stricter requirements for certification As of January 2016, the UL and IEC/EN standards for certification of drives will be globally standardized. This will reduce time-to-market even further but also once again increase the requirements for component fault testing considerably. The same rule still applies: if all safety regulations are taken into account when electrical hardware components for machinery is selected then the company will be able to provide the system integrator with all the necessary certifications, without any need for expensive redesign. This is why a hardware platform certification process is imperative for system integrators. parts lists – the sooner the certifying body is involved, the smoother and more efficient the examination process will be, and the more certain control panel manufacturers and system integrators can be that no unpleasant and expensive surprises will occur. In order to ensure a product conforms to UL requirements, UL inspectors visit the manufacturers’ production sites unannounced at irregular intervals. For one thing is certain: without current safety certificates, access to any major international market will be impossible. Photographs: Underwriters Laboratories CB scheme speeds up time-to-market The growing cost pressure in the field of industrial automation calls for efficient system integration; at the same time, machine and plant operators are becoming ever more demanding with regards to switching controls. For this reason, control panel manufacturers should identify what system integrators in the target markets need in advance. This is the only way to bring national specifications, such as mains voltages, permissible dimensions, or multilingual warnings and installation instructions forward into the production process. With the CB Certificate, UL provides the Type Test Certificate, the UL Classification Mark to IEC and the UL EU Mark, as well as design support to manufacturers and system integrators at any stage of the development process. Before a company begins to design a new series, it might make sense to provide appropriate training for the designers, or conduct a preliminary study of existing lines of equipment that are similar. If the certifying body is involved from the design phase on, subsequent expensive hardware adaptations can be precluded, and stiff contractual penalties avoided. So the manufacturers and system integrators can profit equally from an “early engagement” with a certifying body like UL. No matter whether the issue is specimens, components, prototypes, circuit diagrams, schematics, or UL certified safety cabinet About Company name: Underwriters Laboratories Headquarters: Northbrook, Illinois, USA Employees: 10,842 worldwide Products: UL certification, validatation, testing, inspections, audits, training and consultancy services AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 4/2015


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