by AITEX

NAVAL SECTOR

 

The maritime transport sector is continuously growing and evolving, which is why every product installed on vessels must comply with international, European and national safety regulations.Organización Marítima Internacional

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), through the SOLAS Convention, establishes minimum standards for the construction, equipment and use of ships, for the safety of life at sea. The European Union implements this regulatory framework through the Marine Equipment Directive 2014/90/EU together with Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1170.

In order to provide a co-ordination and co-operation framework for the application of the international rules, MarED co-ordinates the group of Notified Bodies assigned by the Member States for the conformity assessment procedures referred to in the directive.

AITEX is a Notified Body for the conformity assessment of Marine Equipment for fire safety. The following products can be certified by AITEX and awarded the “Ship’s Wheel” necessary for a product to be brought on board.

PRODUCTS
MED/3.1: Primary roof coverings.
MED/3.3:Fire-fighting equipment: Protective clothing (immediate proximity).
MED/3.5:  Firefighting equipment: Gloves.
MED/3.13: Non-combustible materials.
MED/3.18:Surfaces and floor coverings with low flame spread characteristics.
MED/3.19:Upholstery, curtains and other hanging textiles.
MED/3.20: Upholstered furniture.
MED/3.21: Bedding articles.

ensayos equipos marinos

 

The certification process starts with a Module B, EC Type Examination during which, the Notified Body assesses that the prototype being certified complies with the applicable requirements, focusing on the product tests and technical documentation. Once the conformity of the documentation provided by the applicant has been established, a certificate is issued with a 5-year expiry date. The product cannot be marked or introduced onto a vessel without being accompanied by a Module F or D certificate. 

Module F is conformity to type based on product verification. In other words, it assesses whether the final product complies with the requirements and that it conforms to the requirements described in the Module B certification process. This requires an on-site visit during which, the production is monitored batch by batch, a sample is taken and conformity is checked by testing, and other requirements if necessary. If the process complies with the certification requirements, the batches of product declared for verification can be marked with the Ship’s Wheel, and boarded. In this case, the certificate expires when all products in the batch have been used up.

On the other hand, it is possible to opt for a certification process based on quality assurance, i.e. Module D. The Notified Body has to assess the quality management system applied to the product being certified by means of an on-site audit of the production process. The company must carry out checks at the beginning, middle and end of the production process to verify that the product complies with the international requirements and in particular with safety aspects. The certificate will be valid for three years, although a re-evaluation audit will be carried out annually. Through this certification process, the entire production of the certified product can be marked with the Ship’s Wheel rather than being limited to specific batches.

All certificates issued by the Notified Bodies for marine equipment in Europe are obliged to incorporate the certificates issued in the MarED database, this information is public and gives visibility to the companies that comply with the requirements.

Once the B+F or B+D certification has been obtained, the company must make the EU Declaration of Conformity, an essential document together with the certificates and labelling to place a product on the market.

AITEX also acts an independent certification and testing laboratory. Testing forms part of the technical documentation to be provided in the certification process.

Depending on the marine equipment concerned, it must comply with fire safety requirements and follow the guidelines of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1170.

Most of the tests are described in the “International Code for the Conduct of Fire Test Procedures”, 2010 (PEF Code, 2010), adopted by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) by resolution MSC.307(88), which is a mandatory instrument under Chapter II-2 of the SOLAS Convention. It contains pre-regulations relating to the testing process itself and establishes procedures for the type approval and case-by-case approval of materials, components and structures for marine uses.

The Code contains the test procedures, acceptance criteria and classification of some of the marine equipment that AITEX is able to test, including:

  • Non-combustibility test: Identifies products that generate only a very small amount of heat and flame when exposed to temperatures of approximately 750°C.
  • Smoke production test: a method of measuring the smoke production of the exposed surface of samples of essentially flat materials, composites or assemblies when placed horizontally and subjected to specified levels of thermal irradiance in an enclosed cabinet with or without the application of flame.
  • Smoke toxicity production test: Measurement of gases released in fire exposure/smoke accumulation tests using the Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) technique. Combustion produces other effluents such as particulates, fumes and vapours that may be toxic, as well as some gases.
  • Surface flammability test: Quantification of the fire performance characteristics of bulkhead, ceiling and deck finishing materials and primary deck coatings in order to determine their flammability and thus suitability for use in shipbuilding.
  • Testing of vertically laid textiles and films: Fire test to determine whether textiles and films which are mainly used as curtains and hanging ornaments meet the requirements for resistance to flame spread.
  • Upholstered furniture test: Evaluation of the flammability of combinations of materials, such as those used to cover and stuff upholstered furniture, when accidentally coming into contact with a lit cigarette or a lit match, as can happen when making upholstered seating.
  • Testing of bedding articles: Determining the flammability of bedding articles exposed to small burning or smouldering ignition sources.

All these tests, and others are ENAC approved.

In conclusion, AITEX has the capacity to act as a Notified Body and as an independent testing laboratory, to ensure the suitability, fire safety and compliance of a range of marine equipment.