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

IEC e-tech – January/February 2013

IEC e-tech: January/February 2013

Multimedia & appliances


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Editor in Chief:

Gabriela Ehrlich


Managing Editor e-tech :

Claire Marchand



Janice Blondeau

Aliyah Esmail

Morand Fachot

Zoé Smart


Smart getting smarter


Smart devices, getting smarter and smarter, are bound to change the way we deal with our day-to-day environment. As technologies evolve, we will rely more and more on electronic assistance to perform even the most mundane tasks.


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Fuel cells poised to power mobile phones


While the ever-growing demand for more powerful mobile electronic devices is pushing the conventional Li-ion battery to its limits, the latest portable fuel cell systems promise to deliver a longer-lasting alternative for consumer electronics products. IEC International Standards have helped developers bring these pocket-size charging systems safely to the marketplace.


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Chores made easy


The first autonomous domestic vacuum cleaners were introduced at the turn of this century. Since then robotic appliances have improved and expanded the range of their activities significantly, both indoors and outdoors, thanks in great part to IEC International Standards.


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Industrial robots: reshaping manufacturing


The first industrial robot was installed at a General Motors plant in the US in 1961. These machines have since become much more complex and are used in a variety of other industries. A number of IEC TCs and SCs prepare International Standards for countless components and systems that are used in robots and are fundamental to their safe operation.


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Watt? No. Think lumen!


For decades, choosing a new or replacement light bulb has been easy: everyone knew what light would be given by a 60 or 100 watt bulb. Domestic consumers, faced with the gradual phasing out of the incandescent light bulb that has lit their environment for well over a century, have some difficulty finding new energy-efficient bulbs that reproduce the same light and feeling. Their confusion is compounded by the wealth of information now given on lamp packaging. These days, finding the right bulb means looking at many different parameters.


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Smart moves boost sales of electronic toys


Electric and electronic toys form a small but growing part of the toys and games industry. They are defined as products designed specifically for children for the purpose of entertainment or education, and that require a power source or to be connected to another powered product, such as a TV set or a computer, to work. Several IEC Technical Committees and their Subcommittees prepare International Standards on the safety aspects of toys that use electricity in any form and on the transformers and batteries used with them.


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Placing the barcodes higher


Joseph Woodland, the inventor of the barcode, passed away aged 91 last December.
Although Woodland and his associate Bernard Silver received a US patent for "Classifying Apparatus and Method" in 1952, it took until the mid-1970s for barcodes to start to be used in retail – and then only on a very small scale. A subcommittee of ISO/IEC JTC (Joint Technical Committee) 1, Information technology, prepares International Standards for the ubiquitous marking and all devices that use it.


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System: more than the sum of its parts


The systems approach is now increasingly being used to tackle a growing number of subjects in fields such as computing, engineering, information science, health, manufacturing, sustainable development and the environment, where it requires contribution from diverse technical disciplines.


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Balancing power needs using fuel cells


FCs (fuel cells) convert the chemical energy of fuels such as hydrogen, methane or methanol into electricity through a chemical reaction. They are found in various power units and are used in portable, stationary and transport applications and in electrical energy storage systems. IEC TC 105: Fuel cell technologies, prepares International Standards for all FC systems and technologies.


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IEC, IAF and ILAC increase cooperation


Cooperation agreements with other standardization and conformity assessment bodies have been on the IEC agenda for many years. One such agreement, made between the Commission’s three CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems, IAF (International Accreditation Forum) and ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) has proved highly rewarding, with levels of collaboration increasing constantly, and culminating in the signing of a second Memorandum of Understanding that expands the scope of the first tripartite agreement.


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Promoting safety in the Ex sector


IECEx and UNECE, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, presented a joint paper at the 2012 PCIC Middle East Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates), on 12-13 November 2012. It provides an in-depth analysis of the IECEx System and the rationale behind its endorsement by the United Nations, via UNECE, as the internationally recognized certification system for promoting the safety of equipment, services and personnel associated with devices, systems and installations used in explosive areas.


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New IECQ website launches


Those of you who are frequent visitors to the IECQ website will undoubtedly be pleased to discover the new and totally revamped website that launched in mid-January. And for first-time visitors who want to learn about IECQ, finding their way around the different sections will be child’s play.


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The way ahead


Frans Vreeswijk, who became IEC General Secretary and CEO on 1 October 2012, talked to e-tech and shared his views on key issues and challenges the IEC is facing now and in the future.


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Standardization in a nuclear facility


2012 IEC Young Professional Leader Marie-Caroline Ehrhard is an Instrumentation and Control engineer at EDF Generation and Engineering, in France. Specialized in energy, electronics and information technology, Marie-Caroline also has a Masters in Environmental Systems Engineering. She is responsible for the I&C (Instrumentation and Control) system of the FA3 (Flamanville 3) EPR™ (Evolutionary Power Reactor) compliance with IEC SC 45A: Instrumentation and control of nuclear facilities standards for both hardware and software.


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Standardization for Smart Grids and Electric Mobility


2012 IEC Young Professional Leader Frens Jan Rumph works as a researcher and consultant in the field of Smart Grids at TNO, the largest independent Dutch research organization. He started to work with Smart Grids in 2009, focussing on demand and supply management systems, new energy services, their operation and management. In this area he performs research into the use of ICT in energy management/power system management.


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Smart Grid software and solutions


2012 IEC Young Professional Leader Manyphay Souvannarath, from the United States, is a senior systems analyst at General Electric Energy. Her current role with her company is to develop and analyze technical requirements for Smart Grid software as a service for customers, and to architect solutions based on technical requirements and stakeholder needs. Over the past two years she has also been working with IEC SG (Strategic Group) 3 on Smart Grid.


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IECEx-AFSEC seminar in Africa


Recognizing the need to raise awareness on Ex risks and liabilities on the African continent, IECEx and AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission) jointly organized the first international seminar for the Ex sector, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 28-30 November 2012.


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The New Year sees a number of TC (Technical Committee) Chairmen and Members take up their new positions, as well as the extension of terms of office of several existing Chairmen.


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Tackling the energy challenge


Energy consumption will double between now and 2030; demand for electricity will triple by 2050. To reduce emissions and produce enough energy for developed and developing nations in the future, the IEC believes that the whole energy chain will need to be reworked. For several years, the IEC has been a trusted partner of industry, governments and international organizations, supporting them in their efforts to meet these challenges.


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Raising efficiency


IEC Global Visions interviewed Dr Zhengrong Shi, Founding CEO and Executive Chairman of Suntech Power, one of the biggest global manufacturers of solar products for residential, commercial, industrial and utility applications. He explains how his pioneering role in the IEC and in certification changed how the players in China now approach production and certification. His work in the IEC has allowed his company to steadily increase the efficiency and quality of its products, while reducing overall development and commercial costs.


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The future of vehicles – 2013 Fully Networked Car Workshop


Registration is open for the eighth Fully Networked Car workshop, which will be held on 6-7 March 2013 at the Geneva (Switzerland) International Motor Show.


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Right caps for the right lamps


There are dozens of models of lamps for countless applications, for residential, industrial and office lighting, for domestic appliances, medical lighting and projection equipment, within the automotive industry, etc. Lamp caps and holders must be standardized to ensure lamps designed for the same purpose are interchangeable. IEC Subcommittee 34B: Lamp caps and holders, prepares the IEC 60061 series of International Standards to ensure this is the case. Three amendments to the series were published recently.


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Databases for graphical symbols now in Japanese


Graphical symbols for many goods and services can be found throughout the world. Because they are not linguistically based they help people overcome barriers such as those imposed by language and understand vital information where written words might confuse or not be understood. They are particularly important for electrotechnical products. The IEC databases of graphical symbols for diagrams and for use on equipment are now available in Japanese. They will benefit the Japanese industry and improve the understanding of these symbols for local consumers.


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