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In the thicket of standards – hurdle race for export firms

On the conditions and difficulties of the export of explosion-protected equipment to North America; a PTB seminar


Über die Bedingungen und Schwierigkeiten des Exports explosionsgeschützter Geräte nach Nordamerika; Seminar der PTB

Not always and not everywhere is the test mark of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) a magic formula like "Open, sesame!". All manufacturers of so-called explosion-protected equipment with a global market in mind can tell a tale about that: When such a manufacturer has the safety level of a new electro-motor type tested at PTB, this test will indeed pave the way to the German and the European markets, however, the door to North America remains closed, despite the PTB test certificate and the PTB type approval. The reason for this is the following: The differences between the underlying technical safety philosophies and the standards derived from these for the tests which instruments and equipment must undergo on this side and on the other side of the Atlantic are too great. The North American market simply does not recognize the European safety certificates.

These problems will be the subject of a seminar organized by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt on its Braunschweig premises on February 23 and 24, 1999. A large number of manufacturers of explosion-protected equipment will attend who are concerned with the question: "Let's go west - but how?" which is at the same time the seminar title. In addition to PTB experts, experts from a U.S. approval office, the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (Chicago), will speak to the participants. At the beginning, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology will outline the economic importance of the North-American market for German industry.

The seminar is regarded as another step towards the removal of hurdles which German manufacturers must take who want to export their products to North America. For, a simplification of the approval procedures and, finally, their harmonization will not be possible until confidence in the counterpart's competence has been established: the seminar - also - a confidence-building tool. This process might end in instrument approvals which are accepted in the different economic areas. Costly and time-consuming multiple tests, which are still a characteristic of today's situation with its most different regional standards, would then be a matter of the past. German industry which strongly depends on exports could then breathe a sigh of relief.

Additional seminar information:
Dr.-Ing. Uwe Klausmeyer
Section 3.41
PTB Braunschweig
telephone: ++49-531-592-3410
fax: ++49 531-592-3415

We would appreciate it if journalists who are interested in this topic would attend the seminar. Interviews with the speakers can be agreed on the spot at short notice.