The Australian coal mining industry recognised the importance of overhaul and repair of Ex equipment and developed a specific Standard, AS 2290.2, for the overhaul and repair of explosion-protected equipment for coal mines (Group I) in 1979. To support this Standard the NSW coal mining regulator implemented a program of ‘approved Ex Service Facilities’ in the late 1970s/early 1980s, where facilities that overhauled and repaired Ex electrical equipment for NSW coal mines had to possess suitable facilities (including premises and tools), and competencies necessary to conduct the overhaul and repair work in accordance with AS 2290.2. This program included the Competent Persons program where individuals had their knowledge of the repair, overhaul and modification of Ex equipment assessed by oral and/or written examinations. During the mid to late 1980s the NSW coal mining regulator reviewed the requirements for Ex service facilities approval and introduced requirements for the implementation of certified Quality Management Systems.
Throughout the 1990s, AS 2290.2 evolved into AS/NZS 3800 and encompassed both Group I and Group II industries. At the same time non-regulatory bodies such as NATA and SAI Global began providing accreditation/certification services for facilities that overhauled and repaired Ex electrical equipment. National Competency Standards were also established for hazardous area electrical equipment. With this entire framework in place, coal mining regulators have recognised the need to fully embrace the equipment certification and Ex Service Facilities recognition capabilities available.
Within the IEC, a standard for repair and overhaul was published as early as 1993, however was written to support Group II applications and excluded mining applications. Subsequent editions addressed all hazardous area applications and protection techniques.
In 2007 the Standards Hazardous Area Management Committee endorsed the inclusion of Ex Service Facilities and their recognition within its scope of activities. This allowed end-users a high degree of confidence in the Ex properties of hazardous area equipment through the service life of the equipment, as the Schemes covered equipment purchased, overhauled, repaired or modified. In 2016 management of the scheme was transferred to JAS-ANZ and the Rules revised to describe a System and specific Schemes operating under the new ownership.
It is also recognised that the IEC Ex Scheme has been expanded to encompass Ex Service Facilities. As such it is envisaged that, as the ANZEx Recognised Service Facilities Scheme and the IECEx Scheme evolve, there will be close alignment between the two.
End-users are encouraged to use service facilities recognised under this Scheme to overhaul, repair or modify their Ex electrical equipment. Service Facilities that overhaul, repair or modify Ex electrical equipment (Ex service facilities) are encouraged to gain recognition and maintain it. Manufacturers of Ex equipment are also encouraged to gain recognition, as the requirements for manufacture may be quite different from those required for overhaul and repair. However, it is recognised that repair of non-conforming newly manufactured equipment is normally part of the manufacturing process. Suppliers of Ex electrical equipment are encouraged either to gain recognition themselves or have agreements with Recognised Service Facilities so that the equipment they supply can be overhauled and repaired with a high degree of confidence.
The Recognised Service Facilities Scheme provides the means for facilities that overhaul, repair or modify Ex equipment to demonstrate they have the premises, tools, equipment, management systems, work practices and competencies necessary to restore Ex electrical equipment to a condition that complies with any approval or certificate of conformity (CoC) and to demonstrate compliance with the relevant Ex product Standard, including AS/NZS 3800, IEC 60079_19 and AS/NZS 2290.1, where applicable. The Recognised Service Facilities Scheme permits the use of the Recognition Identifier on overhauled, repaired or modified Ex product and associated reports and thus provides distinctive evidence to confirm a Recognised Service Facility’s capabilities and that overhaul, repair or modification was undertaken under the Recognised Service Facility’s Quality Management System Requirements.