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

IEC e-tech – March 2012

IEC e-tech: March 2012

Sensors & Safety

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Editor in Chief:

Gabriela Ehrlich


Managing Editor e-tech :

Claire Marchand



Morand Fachot

Philippa Martin-King

Zoé Smart


Sensors everywhere and in everything


Industrial automation, hazardous substance detection, entertainment, medical environment, security systems, lighting, cars all have something in common: sensors inside. The new trend in microsensors that can be fitted into portable devices opens up a world of possibilities.


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Helping to deal with hazards effectively


Sensors play a central role in environmental and safety issues, detecting hidden or invisible hazardous substances like gases or chemicals. The IEC plays a pivotal role in ensuring their performance and quality improve constantly, making them more efficient.


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MEMS now big in consumer electronics


MEMS are now an indispensable component of portable consumer electronics, increasing the performance, accuracy and reliability of existing technologies in ways not possible before. At CES 2012, literally hundreds of devices now include MEMS that enable innovative services on smart phones and tablets and allow for the miniaturization of projectors and other devices.


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Humanizing the automobile safely with sensors


Consumers once bought a simple chassis with four wheels and an engine attached; now they purchase a highly sophisticated computerized motoring solution able to communicate tremendous amounts of data. Sensors measure all kinds of information that make the driving experience safer, more reactive, productive and efficient.


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Cutting risks in human-robot interaction


Industrial activity requires tools or equipment that is capable of causing serious injuries or even fatalities if not used with due care. The introduction of automation and robots in manufacturing has greatly improved safety at work by transferring a number of hazardous and harmful tasks from humans to machines. However, it has also introduced its own set of risks for workers and operators. The use of a variety of sensors and other devices in the production chain has improved safety for industrial staff, yet there is still room for improvement in this field.


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Electrosmog – measuring and setting EMC limits, the work of CISPR


CISPR deals with EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) and interference, or rather the unwanted effects of it. In a world of increasing electrification, CISPR is faced with new challenges to ensure that limits are adapted and standardized in line with new technologies being developed, such as renewable energies which may cause an irregular and inconsistent flow of energy to the grid and where it is important to be able to deal with data on generation and use.


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Creating the big picture


Recently, IEC TC 65 set up an ad-hoc group with ISO TC 184 aimed at streamlining their future international standardization work so as to make it clearer and more coherent for their users while ruling out duplication of work in the two organizations. Indeed, if the committees have a common understanding of the notion of the data they are describing but use different terminology, ultimately users of their publications will be speaking a different language. In the world of automation that can lead to costly and dangerous errors.


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Shocking electronics – Standards define test impulses, mostly


Electronic products must pass some level of immunity tests when subjected to conducted or radiated energy. Some of those tests include subjecting the equipment under test to electrical impulses--short duration single events using defined voltage and current waveforms. Engineers also use impulse tests to verify electrical spacings on PCBs and to periodically check motor-insulation.


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Raising awareness


While conformity assessment is a given in industrialized countries, the concept has not necessarily been fully integrated into developing economies. Recognizing the need to raise awareness and provide a better understanding of the specific requirements linked to standardization and conformity assessment activities, UNIDO has been implementing a series of projects, tailored specifically for developing countries. The IEC participated in the first UNIDO regional workshop in Bangladesh.


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From singing to sensing


Modern gas detection devices are state-of-the-art, extremely sophisticated devices that use sensors to identify potentially hazardous gas leaks. They are usually part of larger safety systems that can be found in a wide variety of locations such as mines, oil rigs, refineries, paper mills, industrial plants, waste water treatment. They also provide much greater safety than the canaries that were used as gas detectors by miners until the late 1980s.


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And the winner is...


IECEx Executive Secretary Chris Agius received the HazardEx Lifetime Contribution to the Industry Award on 29 February 2012 at a gala dinner during the annual HazardEx event in Harrogate, UK. The Award recognizes an individual for his personal contribution to improving health and safety in hazardous areas.


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Extremely reliable and incredibly safe


Sensors and sensor systems are a key underpinning technology for a wide range of applications. As any other electronic components, sensors have to go through a battery of tests before they hit the market, to ensure that they comply with very specific requirements. IECQ tests and certifies sensors using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards.


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Standards for a Green Society


The ever increasing demand for “green” products prompted JISC, in collaboration with IEC-APRC, to organize a regional seminar to promote energy efficiency requirements in standards for electrical and electronic products, as well as the need for the harmonization of these requirements.


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The A to Z of drafting IEC publications


To help the thousands of experts around the world who participate in standardization work, the IEC Editing and Document Preparation team has developed an A-to-Z guide on how to draft IEC publications, available on the IEC website.


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Better communication


The third joint ISO IEC Marketing and Communication Forum was a resounding success! Participants spent two days exchanging ideas and discussing strategies on how best to engage with and involve stakeholders using the wealth of tools available today.


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IEC welcomes 82nd member


In January, the IEC welcomed the Republic of Moldova as its 82nd member. Moldova’s addition means that 163 countries (82 members and 81 affiliate countries) are now involved in electrotechnical standardization work under the aegis of the IEC Family.


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Cool new standard for insulating oils


For most people mentions of oils in an industrial environment is synonymous with the lubrication of machines. However, the public at large is less aware that oils are also used in the electrotechnical domain as insulating elements in a wide range of equipment. IEC TC 10: Fluids for electrotechnical applications, has just published the latest edition of an International Standard that covers unused mineral insulating oils for transformers and switchgear. This standard is also available as a Redline version that shows all the changes with the previous edition.


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First publication for marine energy conversion systems


One of the more recent of the IEC TCs, TC 114, is responsible for International Standards for marine energy conversion systems and has issued its first publication. The Technical Specification lists and clarifies the most important renewable energy terms relating to ocean and marine energy as well as providing some useful figures as illustrations.


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