Some Direction on European Directives

Machine Builders Must Comply With Other Rules When Selling and Shipping to New Markets

By Jim Montague


Besides meeting safety standards, machine builders must comply with other rules when they sell and ship to new markets. Some of the most comprehensive laws are the European Directives required by the European Union (EU) and its European Economic Area (EEA) and European Commission, which administer the European Norm (EN) standards, and run the Declaration of Conformity (DoC) and CE Mark programs. Their guide is available here.

SEE ALSO: Essential Safety

Also, a good summary of the directives is in a whitepaper, "European Directives: An Overview for OEM's and System Integrators," by Iain Lindsay, and published by Rockwell Automation. It's available here.

To comply with the European Directives, machine builders must:

  • Identify the directives and EN standards applicable to them
  • Conduct risk assessments and reductions
  • Identify conformity assessment methods to be used
  • Design, build and test equipment in accordance with the directives and standards
  • Generate the DoC and affix the CE Mark
  • Make sure equipment is built in accordance with its directive's technical file
  • Retain all necessary technical documentation

For example, the European Directives that address safety and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) include:

  • Machinery Directive specifies requirements relating to the design and manufacture of machinery in order to help improve its safety. The Use of Work Equipment Directive takes over after installation to cover employers.
  • Low Voltage Directive (LVD) applies to electrical equipment designed for use with a voltage rating between 50 and 1,000 Vac and between 75 and 1,500 Vdc, and covers risks arising from the use of electrical equipment, including not just electrical safety, but also mechanical, chemical and other risks.
  • EMC Directive regulates the compatibility of equipment regarding EMC, which is defined as the ability of equipment to function satisfactorily in its electromagnetic environment without introducing intolerable electromagnetic disturbances to other equipment in that environment.
  • ATEX (ATmosphères EXplosibles) Directive helps reduce the risks resulting from the use of certain equipment in or in relation to a potentially explosive atmosphere.
  • Radio equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive applies to equipment that can be connected to public telecommunication networks.
  • Pressure Equipment Directive covers pressure equipment and assemblies with a maximum allowable pressure greater than 0.5 bar.

Other directives cover reduction of hazardous substances (RoHS), electrical waste, chemicals, packaging, batteries, design issues and product liability.

This sidebar is part of the August 2013 cover story "How Machine OEMs Build Global Connections."