International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

IEC e-tech – November 2014

IEC e-tech: November 2014

The year in review


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Editor in Chief:

Gabriela Ehrlich


Managing Editor e-tech :

Claire Marchand



Janice Blondeau

Morand Fachot

Antoinette Price

Zoé Smart


e-tech mobile


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Cooperation towards a smarter world


Everything from grids, to cities, to transportation and manufacturing is to become smarter. Smart is often associated with information and communication technology. But the gathering and processing of data – so-called Big Data is only part of the picture. The other part is the electrotechnology enabling all the smartness.


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The promising impact of renewables


The wide-ranging environmental, economic and employment benefits of the rapidly expanding RE (renewable energy) sector are multiple and go beyond solely electricity generation. “New” RE sources, i.e. wind, solar, marine energy and biomass are now the fastest-growing power source on a percentage basis with hydropower representing the biggest share.


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Storage: the heartbeat of renewables


As many countries try to increase the share of REs in their electricity generation portfolio, a major issue facing utilities is EES (electrical energy storage). IEC International Standards for EES technologies aim to provide a safe and stable energy supply and to integrate electricity from intermittent RE sources into the overall distribution grid.


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Towards Smarter Cities and Smarter Grids


By 2050, it is projected that the world population will reach 9.6 billion, 67% of which are predicted to be living in cities. With these projections comes the need for sustainable, reliable solutions for the transmission, distribution and use of energy resources. Smart Cities and Smart Grids offer robust responses to the challenges faced by regulators, utilities, and governments.

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The sparks that make land transport flow


Public and personal road transport, as well as railways, rely to an ever greater extent on electrical and electronic systems for better safety and energy efficiency. IEC International Standards are central to the expansion of the sector, allowing more and more people and larger volumes of goods to be transported over short and long distances in superior conditions.


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Over a century of electric medical devices


The effects of electricity on the body were recorded as far back as ancient Greek and Roman times, when electric eels were used to treat joint pain, migraines and epilepsy. In the late 18th century, experiments by Italian scientists Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta using a metallic probe caused muscle contractions in a dead frog’s legs and eventually led to the invention of the electric battery. German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-ray in the late 19th century, and since, countless EMDs (electric medical devices) have enabled significant advances in medicine.


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Ultrasonics in medical applications


Over the past century, the great progress made in healthcare for existing and new technology relies on electrotechnology. Following the discovery of X-ray imaging in the late 19th century, great advances have been made to ultrasonics diagnosis and treatment equipment. The evolution in medical imaging used to see and examine the interior of patients’ bodies has made it clearer and safer. This in turn results in faster more accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment of illness and traumatic injuries.


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Trend-setting devices


We live in a “real time” world where soft- and hardware Internet technology enables us to access more products and services any time, any place. IEC work, including printed electronics, semiconductors and many other components, greatly helps the development and roll-out of these technologies.


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Delivering portable healthcare


The scope of electronic wearables has broadened from the hearing aid, or heartbeat monitors to items widely used in social, health, wellness and medical areas, such as smart glasses, smart watches, glucose monitoring and drug delivery devices. Because these devices monitor crucial aspects of our health, it is imperative that they function accurately and safely.


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Sensing with optical fibres


Starting from the first patent of a fibre optic sensor in 1967, fibre optic sensing has become a success story throughout the world. Today, fibre optic point sensors and continuous distributed fibre optics sensor systems allow the measurement of nearly all physical quantities and contribute to higher safety levels in many industrial sectors. Monitoring of pipelines, power cables, lightweight and civil engineering structures, and ground movementshead the hit list of applications. Standardization in this field is of paramount relevance and brings to light some of the challenges now faced by IEC SC 86C/WG 2: Fibre optic sensors.


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IEC Standards drive hi-tech advances


A number of new key technologies have entered the manufacturing world after years at the R&D stage. Among these, fibre optics, printed electronics and nanotechnologies are having a major and growing impact in many sectors. Three IEC TCs develop International Standards for these technologies, which often have overlapping domains of applications.


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Sea, sun and earth


As energy demand keeps rising countries seek to cut their reliance on fossil fuels for economic and environmental reasons. REs (renewable energies) are set to play a role in this shift. Along traditional RE sources, such as hydropower, wind energy and PV (photovoltaic) energy conversion, marine energy and solar thermal are now playing a growing role in energy generation, whilst long-established geothermal energy is also expanding. All rely on IEC standardization work.


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Energy storage helps power world ahead


To balance increasing levels of intermittent RE generation from wind and solar systems, EES solutions are needed that use and store energy efficiently and help improve grid stability and flexibility. The IEC MSB (Market Strategy Board) has published two White Papers, the first on EES, the second analysing the role of large-capacity EES systems that integrate large-capacity RE sources.


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Standards matters in road/rail transport


Road and rail transports are enjoying a major expansion throughout the world, they are central to the global economy. They depend on electrical and electronic systems which rely on standardization work from many IEC TC/SCs.


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Getting the right picture


A central aspect of modern medical treatment is the ability to see inside the body and identify lesions or illnesses in a non-invasive manner. International Standards for many of the systems and technologies used in medical imaging and for the performance and safe operation of imaging equipment and systems are prepared by several IEC TC/SCs.


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Sharper, better pictures and sounds


Multimedia users are constantly expecting better audio and video quality on their equipment whether they access content on large or smaller, mainly mobile devices. A number of IEC TCs prepare International Standards to ensure this is possible for the greater benefit of industry and consumers.


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How standards impact our world


Modern life is more and more IT centric, whether buying a plane ticket, making reservations, paying bills, reading the news, watching a movie or downloading a song. Many daily activities are carried out over the internet, via computers, laptops and tablets. IEC works to develop International Standards which ensure compatibility among the varied technology, safety and reliability for all users.


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A leader in its field


The number of CB Certificates issued by members of the IECEE keeps increasing each year (more than 80 000 in 2013). Add to that the successful and fruitful collaboration with international organizations, the outreach to developing countries and the introduction of new services and product categories and you have confirmation that IECEE is THE global certification system for electrical and electronic products.


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The ultimate safeguard in Ex areas


IECEx has continued to grow in the past year. The IECEx International Conferences – in 2012 in the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and in 2014 in Malaysia – have contributed to increase awareness and visibility in the Middle East and Asia. The IECEx Certified Persons Scheme, launched in late 2010, has really taken off since 2013, benefitting from the support of several majors in the oil and gas industry.


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Quality and reliability at the forefront


IECQ has been thriving in the past 12 months. The launch in 2013 of new programmes for the automotive industry and counterfeit avoidance have enriched its portfolio and broadened its scope. Together with the complete restructuring of the Schemes and a new website, they have brought new dynamics to the System. Not resting on its laurels, IECQ is actively working on new developments.


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International debut for IECRE


The IEC, which has been at the forefront of international standardization in the wind, solar and marine energy fields for many years, has now gone a step further and launched IECRE, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications.


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Five years on...


The Tokyo IEC Young Professionals workshop marks the fifth year that this programme has introduced up-and-coming experts to the world of the IEC. In this article, e-tech looks back on what’s been achieved to date.


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Strong and infallible support


The past 12 months were a busy period for the Affiliate Secretariat team. From Bhutan in November 2013 to the Democratic Republic of Congo in September 2014, the IEC Affiliate Country Programme was represented at several major events in Asia and Africa. These trips were also great opportunities to organize country visits and meet with NECs (national electrotechnical committees) and their stakeholders.


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IEC Global Visions


For several years now, the IEC has been interviewing leaders from industry and governments on the benefits of electrotechnical standardization. In the IEC Global Visions series of interviews, these high-level executives explain how they cope with the challenges that industry and governments are facing and how the IEC helps them to do so. In the past 12 months, LSIS, NERSA (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) and SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China) were featured in the Global Visions series of videos.


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The year in events


Every year the IEC organizes and participates in a number of events, promoting IEC activities, engaging stakeholders and staying on top of the latest developments in electrotechnology and beyond. Below is a selection of events attended by Central and Regional Office management in the past 12 months.


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Share your work


With 166 countries in the IEC family, more than 14 500 technical experts who work in standards development, hundreds of CBs (Certification Bodies) and TLs (Test Laboratories) in the IEC CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems, there is no shortage of stories to be told within the IEC community. In 2015, as in previous years, the e-tech editorial team will be reaching out to you to get your story.


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