STAHL 'Ex' day in Antwerp, April 15

By: Omer Decock (STAHL N.V.)

On April 15, STAHL N.V.’s event, the STAHL ‘Ex’ day, was held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Antwerp. Present among the numerous guests present were engineering agencies, end users, manufacturers and installers. As usual, the event consisted of an exhibition of explosion proof products, solutions and presentations by various guest speakers.

Wout Moelard, chairman of the Dutch Standardization Commission NEC 31, gave a general lecture on the development of standards.
Participants in the standards committees determine how and how fast a standard evolves. Whether it relates to explosion proof equipment or anything else. The greater the pressure from the industry, the quicker a standard can be deployed following new trends. This is presuming that the industry is represented in the standards committee. That is rather a problem in Belgium.

Omer Decock, moderator and Senior Sales Engineer at STAHL NV, gave in his introduction for the next speaker a brief explanation of the terms "competent" and "responsible" as we can find them in the Belgian legislation.

Holger Semrau, Low Voltage Switchgear Product Manager at R. STAHL Schaltgeräte, talked about inspection and maintenance of explosion proof equipment. In his presentation he regularly referred to the standard EN 60079-17 “Explosive atmospheres – Part 17: Electrical installations inspection and maintenance” , the standard EN 61241-17 EN61241-17 “Electrical apparatus for use in the presence of combustible dust – Part 17: Inspection and maintenance of electrical installations in hazardous areas (other then mines)”, and the standard IEC 60079-19 with respect to repair of explosion proof equipment. Also the obligations mentioned in the ATEX 137 were discussed.
In case of inspection and maintenance of installations in hazardous areas, attention should be paid to the knowledge and competence of those who should carry out these activities. That knowledge can only be achieved if there is proper training and information in return.

According to the program the next speaker should have been Professor Jan Van Impe, chairman of the department of Chemical Engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven. Professor Van Impe has been assigned a new project called Process Safety Engineering. Unfortunately due to unexpected events his place was taken by Jos Abbing, Business Developer Process Automation within the R. STAHL Technology Group. He gave an introduction about the concept  SIL, Safety Integrity Level.

In a very vivid way Jos Abbing explained various definitions and concepts, and made it clear that the Safety Integrity Level is not determined by a single device, but an entire chain.
It soon became clear that determining the SIL level is not something you do quickly, it is work for a specialist. It became also clear that the SIL level, which is assigned to a device or appliance, is not relevant without consulting the accompanying report and implement the necessary parameters in formulas.

The last speaker was Mr. Laurent Degroote, Liability Insurance Client Advisor at MARSH Insurances, talked about responsibility in a very broad context. Mr. Degroote explained that there is a distinction between civil liability and product liability. Product liability can lead to serious impact as a causal link between an "incident involving damage” and the delivered product can be proven.

In this context the term product should not only be understood as an appliance or device, it can also involve engineering services, installation, repair or maintenance. The link to competence, responsibility, information and training was obvious. Mr. Degroote also described clearly the chain of events which a insurance company has to follow when persuing a manufacturer of explosion proof materials, the liability involved resting with the manufacturer and the operator.

After the presentations a forum was formed by the four speakers to answer all questions of the audience. It was clear that all topics were important in the world of explosion protection in which STAHL operates.
Animated discussions during the buffet brought people from different branches of our industry together and new contacts were made.