When manufacturing, exporting, and installing industrial machinery in the North American market, different standards apply compared to those applicable in the European market. Examples of such standards include NFPA 70 or NEC (National Electric Code), NFPA 79 (Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery), and UL508A (Standard for Industrial Control Panels).
Consequently, designing a machine for the North American market requires the application of rules that are generally more stringent than those set by European standards.
The National Fire Protection Association is a global non-profit organization established in 1896, committed to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss caused by fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA provides information and knowledge through over 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach, and advocacy.
NFPA’s mission is to help save lives and reduce loss with passion and knowledge. Its 300 codes and standards establish criteria for building, processing, design, service, and installation worldwide to minimize the risk and effects of fire. NFPA’s 250 technical committees, comprising about 9,000 volunteers, review public inputs and vote on the revisions in a process accredited by the American National Standards Institute. NFPA also provides free online access to its codes and standards.
Overview of the connections between the relevant authorities, laws, codes, and standards for building industrial control panels and machines.
NFPA 70, also known as the National Electrical Code (NEC), is a standard established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for the safe installation and use of electrical systems in the United States. It provides guidelines for the design, installation, maintenance, and inspection of electrical systems, and it is widely adopted by states and localities in the US. Adherence to the NEC is critical for ensuring the safety of electrical systems and protecting against electrical hazards, such as fires, shocks, and electrocution.
The NEC covers a broad range of topics, including electrical conductors and equipment, electrical power and lighting systems, grounding and bonding, electrical safety requirements, and more. It also provides guidance on special occupancies, such as hazardous locations and healthcare facilities, and it addresses emerging technologies and renewable energy systems. The NEC is updated every three years to reflect changes in technology, new research, and evolving industry practices. While the NEC is not a law in itself, many states and localities have adopted it as a legal requirement for electrical installations.
NFPA 79 is a standard established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for electrical equipment used in industrial machinery. The standard provides guidelines for the electrical design and installation of machinery, as well as the protection of personnel who operate and maintain it.
NFPA 79 covers a broad range of topics, including grounding and bonding, wiring methods, control panels, power supplies, and more. It also provides guidance on the selection of components and materials, as well as the testing and maintenance of machinery.
Adherence to NFPA 79 is important for ensuring the safety of personnel who operate and maintain industrial machinery, as well as protecting against electrical hazards and machinery failures. The standard is widely adopted in the United States and is often used as a reference by regulatory agencies, insurance companies, and manufacturers.
NFPA 79 is updated periodically to reflect changes in technology and industry practices. The latest edition was published in 2021 and includes new requirements for cybersecurity, energy efficiency, and the use of lithium-ion batteries.
UL 508A is a safety standard established by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for industrial control panels in the United States. It provides guidelines for the electrical design and manufacturing of control panels, including the selection of components, wiring methods, and safety measures.
UL 508A covers a broad range of topics, including overcurrent protection, grounding and bonding, component spacing, and accessibility for maintenance and inspection. The standard also includes requirements for labeling and documentation, as well as testing and certification procedures.
Adherence to UL 508A is important for ensuring the safety of personnel who operate and maintain industrial control panels, as well as protecting against electrical hazards and equipment failures. The standard is often required by regulatory agencies, insurance companies, and customers as a condition for product acceptance.
UL 508A is updated periodically to reflect changes in technology and industry practices. The latest edition was published in 2019 and includes new requirements for energy efficiency, surge protection, and the use of hazardous location equipment.
The term “Authority Having Jurisdiction” (AHJ) refers to an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing requirements from legislation and standards, certifying equipment and materials, and ensuring compliance with installation and procedural requirements in the United States. AHJs play a critical role in electrical safety by checking compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC). The responsibilities and scope of authority of an AHJ may vary depending on the jurisdiction and approval agency, which may include federal, state, local, or regional authorities, insurance inspection departments, or even the product owner or their authorized representative.