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

IEC e-tech – October 2011

IEC e-tech: October 2011

October 2011 edition

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Managing Editor e-tech :

Philippa Martin-King


Editor in Chief:

Gabriela Ehrlich


Articles may be reproduced in whole or in part provided the source, "IEC e-tech" is mentioned in full.

Ronnie Amit

Editorial – Energy Generation


Global energy needs are on the rise. The October e-tech contains articles on energy generation, particularly those using renewable sources. IEC General Secretary and CEO, Ronnie Amit, talks of the IEC's clear vision and mission in spreading the word about standardization and the strategic advantage of active participation in IEC work.

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SMB entities

Distinguishing between SMB entities


In its role as the main decision-making entity of the IEC, SMB, until recently, had three types of sub-groups reporting to it, each with its own specific terms of reference: Sector Boards, Advisory Committees and Strategic Groups.


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IEC on stage at strategic events in 2011

IEC work on stage


Throughout the year, IEC officers and senior management participate in a large number of strategic events and meetings. Their aim is to raise awareness and increase understanding of the importance of IEC work; the positive impact it has on global trade and the help it provides in addressing the energy challenge.


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IEC Global Visions

Globally engineered – locally competitive


IEC Global Visions enables industry leaders such as Bosch, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric and Intertek, and research institutes such as AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), to express why they support active participation in IEC work. Over the past months, the IEC has continued interviewing global leaders from industry and governmental institutions about the challenges they face and how their involvement with the IEC helps them to run their businesses more efficiently.


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IEC regional centres represented

Representation of IEC Regional Centres at key events


Both IEC-APRC (Asia-Pacific Regional Centre) and IEC-LARC (Latin America Regional Centre) are key to the development and promotion of the IEC in their region. They help raise awareness at the national and regional levels, present IEC standardization and conformity assessment activities, encourage active participation in IEC work and develop networks.


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Electric vehicle

Tangible IEC contributions help EVs move forward


2011 has been an active and successful year for the IEC in the EV (Electric Vehicle) arena. It started with the high-level strategic round table that was organized by the IEC jointly with e8, a global organization of 10 world-leading electricity companies, in January in Washington DC.


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Message to TC experts

Share your work with other readers of e-tech


Nearly 10 000 experts work on IEC standardization matters. Often each of them is only aware of the activities of the particular TC/SC(s) in which they work. One of the goals of e-tech, the IEC’s monthly publication, is to change that. We'd like to reach many more experts to tell them about your work in the IEC and its relevance to everyday life. In 2012, the e-tech editorial team will be reaching out to TCs/SCs to get their stories.


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Look ahead

Young Professionals' Programme


As each of the IEC National Committees has gone through a national selection process and named its 2011 IEC Young Professionals, the profiles of those people selected have appeared in the [password protected] Resource Area on the IEC website. Now the results of a recent survey of last year’s Young Professionals have been published. They are both revealing and encouraging.


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Safety of batteries

Harmonization of safety requirements for batteries is underway


Batteries are used in numerous devices and their safety determines the lifespan and faultless operation of countless products. With converging technologies and the advent of horizontal standards comes the need to regularly review, compare and update the standards that define safety requirements in order to ensure that testing and conformity assessment processes are coordinated. This is what is currently happening for the standards issued by IEC TC 108 and IEC SC 21A.


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Solar panels

IECEE developments to meet industry demand


The IECEE CB Scheme opens up access to the global market, while the IECEE CB-FCS (Full Certification Scheme) takes testing and certification a step further with a complete factory inspection process. IECEE is also the exclusive provider of the PV (photovoltaic) Quality Seal and Quality Mark. Technological innovations and environmental issues have prompted the setting up of additional services to meet specific demands from industry and governments worldwide.


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Kerry McManama, IECEx Chairman

Kerry McManama plays major role in IECEx development and growth


Kerry McManama, Chairman IECEx, talks of the IECEx System that has gained wide recognition among companies in helping control hazards in Ex (explosive) areas such as oil and gas refining, chemical processing, coal mining, paper and textile manufacturing, and so on. These very different industrial sectors all have one thing in common. All have hazardous areas in which flammable liquids, vapours, gases or combustible dusts present a fire or explosion hazard. The use of on-site electrical equipment simply adds another spark to the dangerous mix.


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UN ECE logo

Dubai to host major IECEx event


Middle Eastern countries with a large number of oil producing and processing operations are expressing a strong interest in IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres. To help educate interested parties about the System and learn how the region can benefit from it, ESMA (Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology) has taken the decision to host a major Ex event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


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Electrostatic discharge

IECQ certification saves time and costs


Electrical and electronic products can contain hundreds of individual components and sub-assemblies. Manufacturers need the assurance that the electronic components used in their products are of the required quality and reliability. IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, provides certification at the international level for a wide variety of electronic components of which there are at present eight families covered.


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Lord Kelvin Award gold medal and pin

2011 Awards for commitment to the IEC


Every year the IEC honours the commitment and work of a select number of individuals who, through their leadership and technical expertise, have contributed to making products and electrical systems safer, more energy efficient and more compatible. This in a world that increasingly is looking to reduce consumption and emissions and improve interoperability.


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IEC PDP department like a sophisticated Rubik's cube

Alpha and omega – before the spreading of the word


Although perhaps less visible than some of the other IEC forces, the Editing and Document Preparation team nevertheless plays a vital role in producing the IEC International Standards that are used by companies throughout the world as the basis for their product designs and subsequent conformity assessment. Since the last e-tech report on its activities, the role of the Technical Editing team, as it was previously known, has broadened from technical editing to include layout and figures and electronic publishing; hence the reason for the new name.


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ACEA advises SMB on environmental issues

Nominations of Officers of IEC Consultative Committees


As well as its regular Technical Committees, the IEC has a number of Strategic Groups, Sector Boards and Technical Advisory Committees which report to the Standardization Management Board. This month, e-tech announces two nominations within SG 1 and ACEA.


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Phuntsho Wangdi of Bhutan

IEC Affiliate Programme provides assistance to developing countries


This year, the IEC celebrates the tenth anniversary of its special programme for developing countries. Known as the Affiliate Country Programme, it concentrates on those areas that are of interest to developing countries in the process of setting up their own national energy, construction and engineering infrastructures. It provides countries with a greater awareness of the world of the IEC and electrotechnology. It helps them understand how existing International Standards can be adopted at a national level, then applied and used for greater safety and efficiency in the context of economical and industrial expansion.


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Sun catcher

IEC supports renewable energies


According to IEA data, electricity has been the world's fastest-growing form of end-use energy consumption in the past four decades. It increased by 246 % between 1973 and 2008, whilst overall energy consumption from all sources went up by 31 %. Global energy needs are increasing constantly and with the diminishing supply of fossil fuels and rising environmental and safety concerns, renewables are likely to occupy a growing share of the future energy mix.


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Sony and Amazon tablets

Carry-on reading


e-books are bringing new opportunities to the publishing industry. Offering more than a mere interface for reading text, e-books can provide much better picture quality than is available on a computer screen; they also offer the ability to create multimedia interactive storytelling. At the same time, e-books offer advertisers new opportunities to reach audiences. IEC TC 100, TA (Technical Area) 10: Multimedia, produces International Standards for multimedia e-books, multimedia e-publishing and related technologies.


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Standby for better performance


The IEC recognizes that standby power consumption is an important energy-efficiency issue and for a number of years has been preparing International Standards to measure it efficiently. Reducing standby power was one of the recommendations listed in the September 2010 White Paper "Coping with the Energy Challenge". In January 2011, IEC TC 59: Performance of household and similar electrical appliances, published the second edition of International Standard IEC 62301, Household electrical appliances – Measurement of standby power, widely used by manufacturers and regulators.


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Ultrasonics has been used in dentistry since the mid-1950s to loosen plaque and calculus which, if they are left in place, can have a disastrous effect on gums and teeth. International Standard IEC 61205, Ultrasonics – Dental descaler systems – Measurement and declaration of the output characteristics, is published by TC 87/WG (Working Group) 7: Ultrasonic surgical equipment. It specifies standard methods of measurement and the essential characteristics of ultrasonic dental descalers.


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Electric vehicle

Tiger in the tank – sustainable transport


The stakes in EVs are high and growing. The motor industry considers EVs to be key to providing sustainable transportation for people and merchandise while reducing emissions and dependency on fossil fuel. Manufacturers are constantly announcing new technical developments that, in one way or another, relate to electric vehicles. In addition to IEC TC  69: Electric road vehicles and electric industrial trucks, other IEC TCs and SCs such as IEC SC 23H: Industrial plugs and socket-outlets, are also involved in the preparation of the relevant International Standards.


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Pressure sensor

Risk management – ensuring the safety of patients and medical carers


There is much needing to be safeguarded in healthcare. Equally important as the safety of the patients themselves is that of those who operate the systems used to diagnose medical conditions. And, as systems become increasingly complex and physicians demand greater precision in diagnostics, so the static and electromagnetic fields of, for example, imaging equipment, increase in strength and with them, the associated potential health risks. IEC TC 62 meets these challenges by producing standards that ensure the safe operation of electronic medical devices in medical practice.


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Fuel cells



Fuel cell technologies are developing rapidly and their use is spreading. From buses and aircraft to robots and medical equipment such as wheelchairs, new commercial applications are constantly being developed. Although fuel cell power systems are still relatively new, the technology has moved on rapidly from the R&D stage to commercialization. IEC TC 105: Fuel cell technologies, was set up in 2000 "with the aim of developing safety and performance related standards for fuel cell appliances".


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Steam oven

Cooking and steaming in the kitchen


Low power consumption represents a powerful selling point for appliances, so the ability to measure the performance of electric cooking ranges, hobs, ovens and grills designed for household use is essential for producers. It is also important from a consumer perspective, as these appliances make up a fairly significant share of households' electricity bills. IEC TC 59 is responsible for the performance of household and similar electrical appliances.


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Protecting electric installations from the weather and other hazards


Safeguarding outdoor electrical installations from the weather and other potential environmental or accidental hazards is essential both for their proper operation and for safety. Outdoor enclosures are unobtrusive and therefore frequently overlooked by the general public, yet they are central to this protection. It is the responsibility of IEC SC 48D: Mechanical structures for electronic equipment, to prepare International Standards for stationary outdoor enclosures.


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Electric tools for the garden

Safe and efficient electric tools


Many of us use electric tools in and around the home. Not only do we expect them to do the job at hand but also that they will work safely and reliably. IEC TC 116: Safety of motor-operated electric tools, has published International Standards that cover specific safety requirements for hand-held electric tools such as saws, drills, trimmers, sanders, hammers and spray guns as well as for hand-held motor-operated electric tools such as circular and other saws, threading machines and so on.


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Moving billions every day with energy-efficient elevators and escalators


Elevators, escalators and moving walkways transport a number of people equivalent to the population of the entire world at least every other day. The complex systems rely entirely on electrical or electronic parts to function and account for 2 % to 10 % of the energy used in commercial buildings. Controlling their power consumption is important. Many IEC TCs ensure the systems work as efficiently and safely as possible.


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Sensors help control our environment


Sensors are all around us. They are incredibly versatile tools, used in all kinds of automated processes – for example, to open and close doors, activate alarms, measure temperature or capture images. Essentially, anywhere you have a system with added intelligence, there is likely to be at least one sensor. IEC TC 47: Semiconductor devices, includes sensors in a number of its publications, as do IEC TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, IEC SC 65A: Industrial-process measurement control and automation and SC 86C: Fibre optic systems and active devices.


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Aline and the robot

Robots at your service!


Service robots are proving increasingly valuable. They help deal with the consequences of industrial or natural disasters and other dangerous situations. They have opened up many opportunities in the health sector, from helping to perform operations to rehabilitation; from remote diagnosis to assisting the elderly and disabled. Home robots are also becoming popular in carrying out basic household chores. The various IEC TC/SCs include TC 47: Semiconductor devices, TC 44: Safety of machinery – Electrotechnical aspects, and SC 65A: Industrial process measurement, control and automation – Systems aspects.


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Getting in and out – access versus accessibility


Access to a great number of places is, today, largely controlled by machines. Gone are the days when the smiling man was there at the entry point to provide access or lift the barrier and wave you through. Today it's more likely you will be greeted by electronic barriers that demand authorization in the form of smartcards and codes, finger prints or facial recognition before you can enter a site. While many of us take this form of controlled access for granted, others don't find it so easy to use the systems.


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Renewable energy from the sun

Providing comprehensive rating information for photovoltaic modules


A study by Arizona State University Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (PRL) based on IEC 61853-1 provides insights into the difficulty of assessing photovoltaic performance testing. Excerpts are published here with the permission of Solar ABCs (Solar America Board for Codes and Standards).


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Hydropower – small hydro goes full circle


When people think of renewable energy, they often overlook the power of water and its capacity to generate electricity. Yet hydropower is one of the oldest forms both of mechanical and electrical power. IEC TC 4: Hydraulic Turbines, was established nearly 100 years ago and has produced many International Standards and Technical Reports for all sizes of hydraulic rotating machinery including, for example, IEC 61116, Equipment guide for small hydro and IEC 62006, Hydraulic machines – Acceptance tests of small hydroelectric installations.


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