Choosing an industrial switchboard? Check the certifications

Scegliere un quadro elettrico industriale? Controlla le certificazioni

Certifications: when purchasing, it is important to check assessment by independent bodies and compliance with regulations, which differ according to markets and uses.

Whether it is used in the food, pharmaceutical, or oil and gas industries, when purchasing a switchboard, evaluation of its features and reliability are critical.

No one would want to install a noncompliant product in a facility that is likely to be dangerous from a safety standpoint.

But there is help that comes to those who have to choose an electrical panelboard, namely certifications: certificates from independent third-party bodies that, following certain laboratory tests, prove its suitability for use in the work environment.

A greater knowledge of certifications can therefore lead to an informed choice, and to better understand how to navigate our way around, we spoke with Diego Di Lelio, owner of EiQ Industrial, who knows the industry intimately.

Why is it important to consider what certifications the product has when buying an industrial switchboard?
You have to consider that this type of product, especially if it is an automation and machine board, even if it is an integral part of the electrical equipment remains a separate component. For this reason, it is important that it is designed and manufactured with high functional, safety and reliability features in order to ensure continuity of production under all conditions of use. Scientifically proving these properties are product standards issued by independent certifying bodies. Therefore, choosing certified carpentry is critical to ensure the compliance of the entire electrical panel and a guarantee for the end purchaser.

Can you help us understand which certifications you consider most significant and what they can attest to with respect to product characteristics?

When designing an industrial switchboard, it is first necessary to define the material with which the carpentry is to be made according to its placement and use. It also needs to be properly sized according to the electrical equipment you intend to install inside it. There are two basic protections that the enclosure must provide. First, IK grade, is the protection against mechanical impacts (CEI EN 50102 standard); the second, IP grade, is the protection of operators from the risk of coming into contact with live parts and the guarantee that the carpentry is sealed against the entry of dust and liquids within it (IEC standard EN 60529).

Anything else?

Yes, I would like to mention that when the switchboard is installed in environments with potentially explosive atmospheres, it must be certified ATEX. It is an acronym created by merging the words ATmosphere EXplosive and Regulates all types of equipment, protective systems and components intended for use in hazardous environments. Then there are other certifications required to install the systems in countries outside of Europe: for example, some countries demand compliance of the electrical panel according to the specific standards in their regulations.

Do the intended uses of an electrical panel affect the type of certification it must have?

Certainly. For example, an industrial switchboard intended for the food industry must have excellent liquid and dust tightness, certified by IP rating, since high-pressure washing is used in these environments to ensure cleanliness is maintained. Another need in the food world, particularly in meat processing and in environments where there is a presence of flours but still throughout the agribusiness, is to equip themselves with Hygienic Design facilities (we talked about it here, Ed.) that allow an extreme ease of cleaning since there is increasing consumer awareness and a search for food produced in hygienically guaranteed environments. Finally, if the destination is a chemical plant, an offshore installation or mine, or any ambient environment that may present potentially explosive gas and dust, the switchboard must be provided complete with ATEX certification.

What happens instead if the switchboard is destined for a country outside Europe?

In this case, specific certifications are required for that country, such as in the U.S. and Canada where, in order for the switchboard to comply with installation on machines, the carpentry must be certified to specific safety standards. Certification of compliance with UL CSA regulations, for example, is undoubtedly the one that we are most asked for by our customers in order to fulfill the many orders that the overseas market offers to European manufacturers.

Let’s talk about who issues the certifications. How are they able to verify the compliance of an electrical panel?

Certifications are issued by certification bodies accredited to the activity of conformity assessment of products in accordance with European and international directives. These bodies, through specific laboratory tests, are able to subject products to scientific testing at the end of which compliance and the degree of certification achieved is declared. Thus, if a company offers a certified switchboard, those who buy it can be assured that an independent and authorized body has verified its suitability. In fact, it is a guarantee of reliability that benefits both the end customer, who can make an informed decision, and the manufacturing company, which thereby increases the reliability of its product range. At least that is what I see here in EiQ Industrial.

Speaking of EiQ Industrial, what is your policy on certifications?

We believe that providing certified products is indispensable as well as distinctive and is a guarantee of quality and reliability for both our customer and the end user. We believe that product certification is an indispensable part of our work, which is why we are always alert to new market demands and opportunities so that we can respond to all needs in a timely manner. Proof of this are the certifications already obtained: CE, IP66, IP69K, IK10, UL CSA Type NEMA 4X, 4, 1, 12, ATEX for category 3 (you can see thein-depth list on this page, Editor’s note). In view of market trends, we have also implemented specific work on carpentry Hygienic Design for which we hold the EHEDG certification for the innovative external hinges of our own design and manufacture, which, as far as I know, are the only ones on the market that are certified, and of the locking boxes.

Are there any other certifications you plan to achieve?

We are in the home stretch for ATEX certification, category 2, for switchboards intended for zones 1-21, and this is an important goal for us that opens up new and additional opportunities for collaboration especially in the oil & gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, and also food sectors. We are also doing a lot of work on the Hygienic Design line of carpentry for which we already have important certifications-I must say that they are getting a lot of interest and are giving us a lot of satisfaction. I believe that the certifications on some of the frameworks we plan to achieve will help us stand out in the market.