A topic which generated a fair amount of discussion at the 2014 IECEx Annual Meeting was a recommendation to approve CNEX-Global B.V., located in Arnhem, Netherlands, as a recognized IECEx Certification Body. CNEX-Global is owned by Nanyang Explosion Protected Electric Apparatus Research Institute Co. Ltd (CNEx) based in Nanyang, China, which also owns CQST, an accepted IECEx testing laboratory for China Quality Mark Certification Group (CQM) located in Nanyang, China. CNEX-Global, which shares its General Manager with CQST, has contracted with CQST to conduct its laboratory testing.
The application was rejected by a majority of the IECEx Member Bodies, with several having abstained. This is the first instance where the IECEx Member Bodies rejected a recommendation by one of its peer assessment teams. There were several reasons that made this a unique situation. The first concerns the composition of the assessment team, which consists of a lead assessor and a technical expert assessor. In this case, the IECEx Secretariat decided to use an assessor under contract to IEC. The use of a contract assessor in a peer assessment scheme, while being inconsistent with ISO/IEC 17040, Conformity assessment – General requirements for peer assessment of conformity assessment bodies and accreditation bodies, has been used successfully by the IECEx for many years. What complicates this situation was that CNEX-Global contracted one of IEC’s lead assessors who also manages the IECEx assessor training and re-evaluation program. Finally, there were issues with the quality of the assessment report. One concern was with the endorsement by the Netherlands National Committee of CNEX-Global application to be recognized as an IECEx certification body. A National Committee represents its national conformity assessment community, but the objective of CNEX-Global is to assist manufacturers outside of China getting Chinese approval. This brings into question the premise for the IEC conformity assessment scheme which is the exchange of IECEx certificates of compliance, test reports and quality assessment report for the purposes of issuing local and/or national certification.
An outcome from the discussion at the IECEx Annual Meeting was acceptance of an offer posed by Canada to develop a proposal to addresses the quality of the assessment reports and provide assistance to the IECEx Secretary in reviewing them prior to circulation to each of the member bodies.