Be prepared

20 March 2008

Last year saw europe's Machinery Directive updated after a long consultation process. The main objectives of the exercise were to simplify and clarify the Directive, consolidate it, improve its application and provide greater legal certainty to some of its aspects. The new Directive (2006/42/EC) was published on 9 June last year, and the Member States have until 29 June 2008 to transpose it into national law. It will be applicable from 29 December 2009, the last Friday of 2009.

No Transition

There is no transition period between the current and new machinery Directives. The current Directive remains applicable until the last working day of 2009. That should give enough time for manufacturers and authorities to adapt to the changes.

Manufacturers can apply the new Directive immediately if they wish as there are no requirements that are less stringent then the existing laws. However, while it is possible to be “technically” in conformity no reference to the new Directive may be made until 29 December 2009 in the declaration of conformity. After that date no references to the current/old directive may be used.

The scope of products subject to the Directive has been clarified, particularly borderline cases that are subject to other laws. One of the most significant changes is the introduction of the concept of “partly completed machinery”, which is to say assemblies which are almost finished machines, but which cannot perform a specific application – a drive system for example. Partly completed machinery is only intended to be incorporated into or assembled with other machinery or other partly completed machinery or equipment, thereby forming machinery to which this Directive applies.

This new definition of course introduces new grey areas. For example, would an engine be considered “partly completed machinery”? According to the Commission, it's not, but then what exactly is a drive system? These aspects still need clarification and guidelines are required. The Commission will be issuing a new guide to clear up these issues, and CECE is actively involved in the editing of it.

The obligations of manufacturers remain the same under the new Directive. Before placing machinery on the market and/or putting it into service, the manufacturer shall:

• ensure that it satisfies the relevant essential health and safety requirements (Annex I of the Directive);

• ensure that the technical file is available;

• provide, in particular, the necessary information, such as instructions (the notion of “original instructions” and “translation of the original instructions” has been introduced);

• draw up the EC declaration of conformity and ensure that it accompanies the machinery (the contents of the declaration have changed significantly);

• affix the CE marking.

For partly completed machinery the obligations are completely new. In the current Directive, the obligations were limited to the so called “IIB declaration”, which was of no interest to the purchaser – the final manufacturer was responsible for the whole machine.

In the new Directive the manufacturer of partly completed machinery has to provide “assembly instructions” and prepare a “relevant technical documentation” including a risk assessment and in the declaration of incorporation all essential health & safety requirements that have been fulfilled should be mentioned.

Other work was done on updating health & safety requirements and clarifying the conformity assessment procedures.

Work was also done on the application of the Directive, particularly in terms of market surveillance and co-operation between the Commission and Member States. In parallel with this, the assessment and monitoring of Notified Bodies was also addressed, with stronger obligations for the Member States to monitor them.

The final document was the result of a long consultation with the industry and other stakeholders, which was also amended by Member States and parliament. In the view of Martin Eifel, from DG Enterprise & Industry, who presented aspects of the new Directive at a Brussels workshop last month, the result is, “an improvement of the Commission's proposal that fulfils the initial objectives of the revision.”

CECE View

The view among CECE members is that the new Directive has good and bad points. On the positive side, the industry is pleased there were few changes to Annex I, which deals with essential health & safety requirements. However, changes have been made, and CECE's members are still digesting what impact these will have regarding their own manufacturing processes as well as on industry standards.

According to Mark Ireland of JCB, who represented CECE at the Brussels Workshop, “In terms of manufacturing, there could be significant impacts, because companies could conceivably have to simultaneously re-engineer large parts of their product ranges. This will be particularly challenging for manufacturers that have not been directly involved in the development of the new directive.”

However, the changes to Annex I are relatively minor as far as the construction equipment industry is concerned. What CECE sees as a priority now is the development of technical standards to adapt them according to the new Directive and other guidance to support the implementation of the Directive. As this Directive is applicable as from the end of 2009 CECE recommends all manufacturers to prepare themselves for these changes.

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