Developments in Harmonizing Worldwide Standards for Equipment Used in Hazardous Area Designations

April 1, 2003
Natick, Massachusetts - A study from Venture Development Corporation (VDC) titled "European and North American Markets For Intrinsically Safe Equipment"

Natick, Massachusetts - A study from Venture Development Corporation (VDC) titled "European and North American Markets For Intrinsically Safe Equipment" investigates ongoing efforts to create uniform worldwide standards for hazardous region classifications, for equipment used in such regions, and for means of certifying the equipment. Hazardous regions are areas where there can be ignitable or explosive atmospheres, such as gas-air mixtures, and certain dusts. Means must be provided to prevent equipment used in these regions from causing ignitions or explosions. Intrinsic safety is a method used extensively in Europe for this purpose. It also is gaining favor in North America.

Hazardous region categorizations

A region that is designated as Zone 0, Zone 20, Zone 1, or Zone 21 in the European system can be considered an equivalent to Division 1 in the North American classification system, while a region designated as Zone 2, or Zone 22, can be considered equivalent to a Division 2 designation in North America.

In both Canada and the United States, efforts have been made to change codes and standards to allow use of the zone classification system, for new installations, and for reclassifying existing facilities. However, getting users to apply these will not be easy. As part of the study, VDC surveyed North American users on the hazardous region categorizations in which they are using intrinsically safe protection methods, and where they expect to be using these in 2006. The results, as summarized below, show that a very small share of applications are expected to shift to zone classifications. In addition, it appears that many of the zone applications indicated were for use in areas outside of North America. The only zone usage that could be identified for certain in North America from the survey was by some petrochemical firms in Canada. Some other users indicated that they would likely have zone applications in the future, but were unable to quantify the extent.

Current and Projected Hazardous Area Categorizations in North American Where Intrinsically Safe Equipment is Used (Percent of Hazardous Regions Identified by Users)

A) Currently Zones 0, 1, 2: 9% Division 1: 40% Division 2: 51%

B) Expected in 2006 Zones 0, 1, 2: 10% Division 1: 38% Division 2: 52%

Among all classes of users, it is expected that firms with production facilities in both Europe and North America will likely be early adopters of a common classification standard, as this holds the potential for having common certification procedures, thus reducing costs and time for certifications. Vendors of equipment used for intrinsically safe applications also see the advantage of reducing certification costs with a single standard, and some see reduction in product development costs.

However, among vendors of products used in intrinsically safe applications who were questioned regarding the likelihood of a worldwide hazardous region classification standard coming into being, the median response was that it could happen in 10 years, although some thought as soon as 5 years, while others expressed the view that it will never happen. Views also differ among those that expect a common standard to evolve. Some expect that the European standards will be chosen, others that it will be an amalgamation of the best of the worldwide standards (such as NEC and IEC standards).

Stated hindrances to adoption expressed by vendors included:

- Contrary to interests of regional certifying agencies

- Differences between classification schemes of Europe and North America are large

- No compelling reason for end users to change

- North American end users do not understand zone categorizations

- Retraining of personnel too expensive

- Too costly for users in converting

About the study

The VDC study "European and North American Markets For Intrinsically Safe Equipment" provides:

- markets size, segmentation, and forecasts for intrinsically safe distributed/remote I/O, intrinsic safety barriers, and field instruments used in intrinsically safe applications

- results of an extensive investigation throughout Europe and North America into user needs and perspectives regarding intrinsically safe products

- certification standards, approval procedures and categorization systems for the application of intrinsic safety methods in Europe and North America

- an analysis was conducted on competitors including share, partnerships, etc.

- strategies and recommendations on how vendors in each product category can enhance their market positions on a global scale.

Study source

Venture Development Corporation is a technology research and management consulting firm serving the worldwide electronics industry.

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