The product range of machines is exceedingly broad due to its equally broad definition. It is “an assembly, fitted with or intended to be fitted with a drive system other than directly applied human or animal effort, consisting of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, and which are joined together for a specific application”.
This therefore includes not only large machinery, but also smaller equipment used in commercial and consumer applications. In fact, for some products, it is precisely the distinction between industrial and consumer use that determines whether the equipment is to be regulated under the requirements of the Machinery Directive or the Low Voltage Directive.
A good example of this are fans. Depending on whether they are installed on the ceiling of a consumer’s home or in an industrial building, they are classified as electrical equipment in one case and as machinery in the other. Despite all this: machines usually contain electronics and must therefore comply with the safety aspects of several regulations and directives (EMC, LVD, RoHS, Outdoor Directive, etc.).
However, the scope of definition is much broader. Products used for safety-related tasks and power transmission within or in connection with machines must also comply with the basic safety and health requirements of the Machinery Directive. These include interchangeable equipment, safety components, load handling attachments, chains, ropes and belts, and removable drive shafts. Incomplete machines are those that must first be incorporated into another machine to perform their function. For example, drive systems. On the other hand, electrical household appliances such as washing and office machines are excluded from the Machinery Directive.
In addition to the safety aspects, there are also requirements for the materials used in machines, as these are considered articles under the REACH regulation. The disposal of the product at the end of its life cycle is regulated by law.
To meet all these requirements, various work steps are necessary, which lead to the following tasks:
- Assessing the conformity of the machine according to the requirements of the applicable directives.
- Carrying out the risk assessment
- Preparation of operating instructions or assembly instructions
- Preparation of the declaration of conformity or a declaration of incorporation
- Affixing the CE mark and the machine plaque
Due to the complexity of a machine and its field of application, the demand on the proofs to be provided increases. Thus it is even more important for companies to check each case individually and which legal requirements apply.