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10 August 2010

PLASA 2010 Aims to Ease EN54 Confusion

If you are an acoustic consultant, facilities manager, architect or anyone involved in the manufacture, specification or installation of voice alarm systems, you will have heard of EN54 part 16, the new European standard covering voice alarm systems, including control and indicating equipment (VACIE), along with amplifiers, processors and similar hardware, and EN54 Part 24, which covers loudspeakers.

Its introduction is causing headaches - and considerable expense - for the UK and European manufacturing sector. The UK is one of only three of the EU's 27 member states where EN54 is yet to become law, but that will change in April 2011.

The complexity of the EN54 regulations, and the demands it places on manufacturers for testing, are onerous, especially in systems incorporating equipment from different manufacturers.

The situation is not improved by widespread uncertainty as to exactly how, when and where it will come into effect, leading one manufacturer, Penton UK, to produce an 'FAQ' leaflet designed to answer typical questions from consultants on this issue, such as how EN54 affects future voice alarm installations, and what buildings or organisations the European Directive has stated must be covered by a voice alarm system. Penton UK Managing Director Kevin Tester told PLASA: "There is considerable confusion in the installation industry about the ins and outs of compliance. We get asked a lot of questions about it, as we are currently investing in having 32 of our loudspeakers certified, so to make it simpler we've condensed the information into a flyer."

Visitors to PLASA 2010 will find many sources of good advice on the subject of EN54. The show will host a suite of seminars focusing on the issue, plus there is a dedicated area of the show floor where some of the leading companies that are already compliant, or working towards it, will be, complete with a networking area for visitors and exhibitors wishing to get a drink and unravel the issues together.

Four Education & Learning Programme sessions on Monday 13 September cover various aspects of EN45. Presenters are ISCE (10:00-10:40), AMS Acoustics / Intertek (11:00-12:00), The Institute of Acoustics (17:00-18:00) and Peter Mapp (13:00-14:00). More details will be posted on the PLASA Show website.

Among the companies that are either EN54 compliant or are in the process of achieving compliance are Ateis (Stand ISCE18), Baldwin Boxall (ISCE1) - who will also host a bar for show visitors, Bosch (ISCE17), Funktion 1 (1-F36), Intertek (1-D36), Penton UK (ISCE16), DNH World- Wide Ltd (ISCE 2) and Polar Audio (1-F2). PLASA Technical Resources Manager Ron Bonner notes: "One of the more worrying aspects is that certification is really for systems, not individual items of kit; so being able to mix and match a Soundweb with a QSC amplifier or a Peavey Nion with an HP network switch will not be as easy as it has been up to now."

He adds: "The landscape concerning speakers for PA/VA use suddenly and dramatically changed with the introduction of EN54 Part 24 (2008). It is proving a headache for manufacturers as they try to get their products tested to meet its requirements, which include test methods and performance criteria for passive loudspeakers."

"Its specific requirements are taking a great deal of time and money to implement. There is a real danger the costs will drive smaller businesses out of the market, let alone those trying to get into the market, as they will have to shell out sums in the region of 15k per product, not to mention the additional costs associated with the increased burden on the factory."

PLASA 2010 seminar places can be booked at www.plasashow.com/education.

Notes to Editors:

PLASA is the lead professional body for businesses that supply technologies and services to the event, entertainment and installation industries. Operating from offices in Europe and North America, the Association provides business support services to its growing worldwide membership, writes industry standards, leads the development of qualifications and focuses on improving the business practices adopted by the industry. With over 1100 members worldwide, it represents one of the largest member networks in the industry.

PLASA also runs successful media and events divisions and is responsible for the industry-leading magazines Lighting&Sound International, Lighting&Sound America and Protocol and the PLASA Show in London, together with the European and North American regional PLASA Focus events.

www.plasa.org