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What are the requirements for machinery CE marking plates?

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Owen Kennedy of nameplates365.co.uk explains the requirements relating to CE plates affixed to machinery to indicate compliance with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

What are the requirements for machinery CE marking plates?The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC was published ten years ago and has been in force since December 2009, yet some machine builders are still unclear about the requirements relating to the actual CE marking on the machine. The CE mark is normally applied to a machine by means of a metal plate but, for safety components that fall within the scope of the machinery Directive, it is more likely that the CE mark and related information will be printed or moulded onto the surface.

Annex III of the Machinery Directive, CE marking, states the requirements and on first inspection it looks straightforward (the following is paraphrased from the directive):

  • The marking consists of 'CE' in a specified style and with vertical dimensions no smaller than 5mm (except on small-scale machinery).
  • The CE marking must be affixed in the immediate vicinity of the name of the manufacturer or his authorised representative, using the same technique.
  • Where the full quality assurance procedure referred to in Article 12(3)(c) and 12(4)(b) has been applied, the CE marking must be followed by the identification number of the notified body (this relates to ‘Annex IV’ machinery, so is not necessary for most machines).

Further clarification is provided in the official guidance to the Machinery Directive (Guide to application of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC). The CE marking must be made in such a way that it is visible, legible and indelible, and the CE letters and other information should be of a size that is commensurate with the size of the machine to ensure it can be easily read. The marking technique must also be appropriate to the application, as the mark must still be legible at the end of the machine's life – bearing in mind that the marking should be on the outside of the machine and the machine may operate in a harsh environment.

CE marking is often applied by means of a metal plate with the necessary information printed, etched or stamped – or a combination of two or more of these techniques can be used. Not only must the marking method be permanent, but so must the means by which the plate is attached to the machine; the official guidance says that welding, riveting or bonding are preferred, with the inference being that threaded fasteners are not preferred.

Because of the requirement for the CE marking to be applied 'in the immediate vicinity of the name of the manufacturer or his authorised representative, using the same technique', it is usually the case that all of this information is presented on a single CE marking plate. In addition, such CE plates commonly carry other information that is also required by the Machinery Directive, such as:

  • The business name and full address of the manufacturer and, where applicable, his authorised representative.
  • Designation of the machinery (ie the machine category).
  • The manufacturer's designation of series or type – which may include a trademark.
  • Machine serial number (if any).
  • Year of construction (NB it is prohibited to pre-date or post-date the machinery when affixing the CE marking).
  • Any markings necessary if the machinery is designed and constructed for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere.
  • Any other information relevant to the machine’s type and that is essential for its safe use.
  • Where a machine part must be handled during use with lifting equipment, its mass must be indicated.

In practice, therefore, the CE plate usually contains a good deal more information than just the letters 'CE' in the specified style. Machine builders need to consider several factors before deciding on the most appropriate type of CE plate to use:

  • The life expectancy of the machine and the environmental conditions to which the plate will be subjected.
  • Does the machine builder manufacture one-offs or series machines?
  • How is the plate to be affixed to the machine?
  • Is a standard style of CE marking plate sufficient or is it preferable to display the company logo?
  • Is a monochrome plate sufficient or is it desirable (for corporate branding, for example) to have multi-colour printing?
  • Will a batch of plates be ordered with the year of manufacture pre-printed or will each plate have the year of manufacture marked individually?
  • If serial numbers are required, how will these be applied to the plates?
  • Is any other information or marking required, such as a barcode or 2D code (eg Data Matrix or QR codes)?

At nameplates365.co.uk, experience has shown that some customers prefer standard designs, with fields provided for inserting information specific to the manufacturer and machine, while other customers opt for bespoke plates designed and manufactured to order, in quantities ranging from one-offs to large volumes. Typically CE marking plates for machinery are manufactured using anodically printed aluminium (0.3-2.0mm thick), etched stainless steel (304 or 316 grade) or etched brass (0.5-3.0mm thick). Anodic printing (also known as subsurface printing or dye anodised printing) is achieved by opening the pores in a sheet of aluminium, immersed in an electrolyte. The open-pore aluminium is then printed with a copper dye, which is absorbed into the aluminium, and the plate is then sealed in boiling water. Printing produced this way is impervious to steam cleaning, and is not affected petroleum products.

For fixing the plates, some customers specify pre-punched holes, while others apply their own permanent adhesive. If required, nameplates365.co.uk can provide the plates with a high-performance, pressure-sensitive adhesive already applied to the back of the plate for quick, easy and permanent attachment to the machine.

Whatever the requirements for CE marking plates for machinery, nameplates365.co.uk prides itself in being able to meet the specification, deliver on time to anywhere in the world, and at a reasonable price.

Follow the link for more information about the company's CE marking plates for machinery or call freephone 0800 088 5227. In addition, the company has expertise in supplying safety labels to help manufacturers of tractors, agricultural machinery, and powered lawn and garden equipment comply with the requirements of ISO 11684 - see www.iso11684.com.

 
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