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System approach to IEC standardization December

The system approach in IEC standardization

The SMB is asking TCs and SCs to adopt a “System Approach” in their standardization work so that rather than considering each of their activities in a local manner that is relevant only to their particular TC/SC, they take a global approach to operations thus enabling greater interaction to take place between committees.


This request follows the original publication of the basic approach and analysis of the results of a first study carried out in the past by an SMB ad-hoc group to resolve various conflicts that had arisen between TCs and SCs, and the ensuing satisfaction survey of last year that showed that since many committees were not yet familiar with the concept of System Approach additional training was required.


A practical example of a system approach might be that of improving a car braking system. Besides the composition of the brake pads themselves there are other elements that need to be taken into consideration; other car components, weather conditions, road surfaces, the driver, etc. All these factors have an influence on one another and interact.


The opposite to a System Approach is often termed “Silo Effect”, a phrase that is currently popular in business communities. A silo, beyond being a storage chamber for farm products is, according to Wikipedia in the context where it is used here as an information silo, a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related management systems. It describes a lack of communication and common goals between departments in an organization.


In IEC terms, thinking by way of systems promotes collaboration and reciprocity between committees, while minimizing conflicts.


system definition


A system is more than the “sum” of its components

A system is a set of components that bear a relationship to one another, although a component can also be a system it itself. However, since components relate to each other, a system is more simply than the sum of the components. There is an added value that results from their relating to one another.


Today, markets are also moving more towards a systems approach. For example, the heating is reliant on a power supply which is linked to an alarm device which, in turn, can be operated by a remote controller. It follows that to minimize energy costs for the building, it is necessary to take into account the entire system and not simply individual components. The market expects and demands a single system even if this actually consists of different devices.


Key words relevant to a single system approach are:

  • Integration;
  • Interoperability;
  • Compatibility;
  • Guarantee of investment;
  • Manufacturer’s responsibility and competence;
  • Best-of-breed functionality.

In terms of processes, the same is also true since a process control system has:

  • Various integrated components;
  • Adaptable functionality – functionality can be modified as the project advances;
  • Single user interface;
  • One supplier who coordinates the integration of the many components.

Since standardization follows the same direction as both the market and industry, so it follows that the IEC and, in particular, technical and subcommittees would benefit from adopting a systems approach.

Adopting a systems approach entails first identifying the role that a TC or SC plays in the chain of events. Is this a traditional product function, that is, one where the TC or SC plays the role of supplier or a system function where its role is more that of customer? Defining one’s place in the supply chain is all important when it comes to establishing the relationship between elements.


In a contemporary context, one must be aware that each and every one of us is a customer of someone else. There is always someone above or below in the process who is impacted by the actions of another; or waiting for a deliverable, etc. It is not a question of hierarchy since each player is affected by the actions of another. No-one is isolated since all are part of the system.


Necessary action items for each TC and SC that need to be set up in establishing a clear relationship in terms of customer/supplier are:

  • Set up appropriate means of dialogue – liaisons, liaison officers, joint working groups, etc.;
  • Include this system approach relevance in the Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) – before the end of 2007;
  • Review regularly – TC and SC plenary meetings with a written or verbal report.

The IEC President’s Advisory Committee on Technology (PACT) reported to the last SMB meeting in October 2006 in Berlin that, during their 13th meeting held in the USA which brought together high level industry leaders, one of the recommendations had been that since industry wants standards to appear more quickly, there should be less overlap between TCs and fewer quarrels on “scope issues”.


The SMB hopes that the adoption of the system approach at individual TC and SC level will help to achieve this recommendation of the PACT.

(December 2006)

IEC Masterplan 2006 - strategy and implementation December

The IEC Masterplan 2006 – its strategy and implementation

The 2006 edition of the IEC’s Masterplan was approved by IEC Council during the General Meeting, held in September in Berlin. Some of the more important themes include the promotional role of the IEC, cooperation with other international standardization development organizations, enhanced training, continuing work with ITU and ISO and ensuring that the IEC is fully representative of all interests.


The promotional role of the IEC
The IEC has as its mission to be globally recognized as the leading provider of standards, conformity assessment schemes and related services that are needed to facilitate international trade and enhance user value in the fields of electricity, electronics and associated technologies.


In this respect, the IEC is aiming to enhance its promotional efforts by carrying out various marketing and communications campaigns with industry, governments, regulators and intergovernmental organizations on the strategic benefits of IEC products and services. This will also include generating additional awareness of the IEC as a brand.


In particular, the IEC will underline the global relevance and importance its standards play in setting down product specifications as opposed to specifying performance criteria throughout the world. At the same time, the IEC is going to extend its communications efforts in academic and industrial circles by providing various educational materials for technical personnel and managers.


Increased cooperation with other ISDOs
The IEC is not only open to cooperation with other standards development organizations, but greatly encourages the possibility of working together since cooperation with other bodies who are specialized in a variety of technical areas also provides an additional opportunity to gain valuable experience and information. This is an integral part of its mission to maximize global harmonization of standards and to support IEC conformity assessment schemes. For example, collaboration with the IEEE provides access to a large recognized scientific audience who are specialists of products that are also of interest to the IEC.


Enhanced training
Additional training ensures that those specialists developing standards are aware of the tools the IEC has available and how to use them correctly. At the same time it provides them with a framework to use the directives productively.


Continuing work with ITU and ISO
In the interest of efficiency, the IEC plans to continue cooperation with ITU and ISO on policy, procedures and processes. For example, a new policy dealing with patent and like rights is in the process of being approved by the three organizations. Whilst fundamentally changing the principles already applicable in IEC, these guidelines will be common to the three organizations. It is expected that they will be become available in early 2007.


IEC – fully representative of all interests
One of the concerns of the IEC is to ensure that all stakeholders take part in the process of standardization. This includes involving academia, end users and consumers as well as industry. In this manner, technical committees need to be fully representative of every area implicated in the entire process.

(December 2006)

ISO/TC 86/SC 5 activities transferred to TC 59 (Household appliances ) December

ISO/TC 86/SC 5 activities transferred to TC 59

The ISO Technical Management Board has agreed to transfer the responsibility for standards on the performance and rating of household refrigerators and freezers from ISO Technical Committee 86/ Subcommittee 5 (Refrigeration and air-conditioning/Testing and rating of household refrigeration appliances) to Technical committee 59 (Performance of household and similar electrical appliances).


IEC TC 59 is chaired by Fabio Gargantini of Italy and its German secretariat is headed by Peter Riller. The main purpose of TC 59 is to prepare standards on methods of measurement of characteristics which are important for determining the performance of household electrical appliances and which are of interest to the consumer. The scope of TC 59 may also extend to those associated aspects that are related to the use of the appliances or their classification and requirements for the information that is provided to the consumer at the point of sale.


The environment is systematically taken into account by TC 59 and its subcommittees and working groups. As far as possible, TC 59 standards describe measurement methods for energy and water consumption, loss of detergents and airborne acoustical noise. At the same time, environmental issues are integrated wherever possible into the design and development of electrotechnical products.

(December 2006)

TC News - on its 10th anniversary December

TC News celebrates 10th anniversary

While the IEC is finishing celebrations for its centenary year, TC News has just reached the grand age of ten. In this context, it seemed appropriate to take a quick look back at the reasons that inspired its creator, Hans Teichmann, to set it up.


“The TC Newsletter is born!”


Such were the first words in this 1996 December publication which, although it was published on the Internet, was, at least to begin with, distributed in its paper form.


“All of us have to struggle with a growing flood of paper, and this TC Newsletter will add a few drops. I know that my target group, the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Technical Committees and Subcommittees of the IEC, will not read it unless it provides useful information which cannot be found elsewhere... I see its purpose as follows:

  • to discuss the role of international standardization;
  • to brief on changes in IEC policy and in management of technical work;
  • to help avoid typical errors and frustrations;
  • to inform on TC performance and noteworthy experiences;
  • to discuss changes in our procedures;
  • to explain existing procedures."

Indeed, according to Teichmann there had been various complaints from secretariats about documents and directives serving little purpose and, on the other hand, a certain lack of knowledge on the part of standardization experts as to how the system actually worked.


Secretaries were sometimes unsure as to how to go about voting; or on other occasions, thinking they knew better, did not follow procedure. Timing was sometimes uncertain. Geneva Technical Officers found themselves carrying out tasks for which they were not normally responsible.


One has to remember that in 1996, the use of computers was not widespread and email almost unknown which implied that there was little immediate contact with colleagues. Information transmission therefore took a little longer.


Hans Teichmann, a scientist by default but a linguist at heart – indeed education did not offer the same possibilities as it does today, arrived at the IEC office to the tune of “My dear boy, you’ll never make a career in the IEC”. So it was that after graduating from high school, where his main subjects were Latin and Greek, he went to technical university in Germany and then spent 20 years in industry working in the electric machinery and power generating equipment area, both in the US and in Switzerland. He started working for the IEC in 1981 and, after his retirement in 2000, while retaining contact with his many IEC friends throughout the world, continued with his passion for linguistics. In the meantime, he had helped, through setting up TC News to provide a forum for making information available to those who need it to make IEC standards.

(December 2006)

SMB asks National Committees to come up with new work items for TC 79 (Alarm systems)November

National Committees asked to come up with new work items

For the past five years IEC TC 79 (Alarm systems) has been on standby with the result that any work falling within its scope has been put to the side and remained dormant for that time.

The social and human aspects of the systems that are dealt with by this committee are widespread since it deals with detection, alarm and monitoring devices such as:

  • intruder and hold-up alarm systems;
  • fire alarm systems;
  • hazard alarm systems;
  • social/emergency alarm systems;
  • other monitoring and surveillance systems (for example, personal or baggage screening, and access control systems);
  • associated transmission and communication systems.

Because such systems exist to protect both people and property, their use and influence is not simply restricted to a minority, but covers entire populations.


As a result of the inactivity of TC79 – indeed, since it was set up in May 1979, TC 79 has only met 8 times – the SMB has asked National Committees to come up with and submit new work item proposals concerning home security. Examples of these devices could, for example, be external alarm systems or sensors or internal technologies such as infrared or Doppler microwaves and the SMB invited the US National Committee to submit corresponding NPs.


Furthermore, the SMB has invited the Finnish National Committee to submit NPs on the CENELEC 50130 series that is outlined in document SMB/3237/DP.


According to its strategic policy statement, TC 79 standards cover terminology and technical reliability as far as operation, testing and performance criteria of the various systems are concerned. This includes procedures and protocols for communication, electrical safety, environmental conditions and the behaviour of alarm systems in relation to the relevant standards on electromagnetic compatibility.

National committees have until February 2007 to submit their proposals to the SMB.

(November 2006)

SMB names officers of TC 113 (Nanotechnology) November

Nanotechnology standardization, its organization and structure

Following the decision to set up a technical committee dealing with nanotechnology, the SMB has named its officers for an initial term of six years starting 1 October 2006. The secretariat, allocated to the German National Committee, is represented by Norbert Fabricius and Gerd Weking, respectively secretary and assistant secretary. The Chairman, Kent L. Whitfield, is from the USA.


The purpose of this technical committee, which consists of 15 participating members and 11 observer members, is to deal with the relevant nanotechnological aspects in developing generic standards for electrical and electronic products and systems. Typically, these concern electronics, optics, magnetics and electromagnetics, electroacoustics, multimedia, telecommunication, and energy production and, more specifically, terminology and symbols, measurement and performance, reliability, design and development, electromagnetic compatibility:

  • Nano structured sensors;
  • Nano-electronics, materials and devices;
  • Opto-electronics / optical materials and devices;
  • Organic (opto) electronics;
  • Magnetic materials and devices;
  • Radio frequency devices, components and systems;
  • Electrodes with nano-structured surfaces;
  • Electrotechnical properties of nanotubes/nanowires;
  • Analytical equipment and techniques for measurement of electrotechnical properties;
  • Patterning equipment and techniques, mask and lithography;
  • Performance and reliability assessment for nanoelectronics;
  • Fuel cells;
  • Nanotechnology-related electromedical products and systems.

Since it has now fulfilled its purpose, the Advisory Body on Nanotechnology, set up by the SMB, has now been disbanded.


Research today is being conducted worldwide on nanotechnology to create the innovative products of tomorrow. According to a recently published report from SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International) in cooperation with SIA (Semiconductor Industry Association), the market for nanotechnology will grow from its present USD 1,8 Billion to USD 4,2 Billion by 2010. In view of the rapid growth of nanotechnology in the electrotechnical industry and the increasingly important role it is expected to play in the future it makes sense to initiate standardization and the SMB has encouraged the new TC to hold its first meeting in the very near future.


Mechanisms have already been put into place to create synergies between TC 113 and ISO/TC 229 (Nanotechnologies) which is under BSI secretariat and chaired by Peter Hatto of the UK. ISO/TC 229 is to produce standards for classification, terminology and nomenclature, basic metrology, calibration and certification, and environmental issues. Test methods will focus on physical, chemical, structural, and biological properties of materials or devices whose performance is critically dependent on one or more dimension less than 100 nm.


Coordination between the two committees will be closely monitored by ISO’s Technical Management Board and the IEC’s SMB. The first meeting of the new IEC TC 113 is planned for the first/second quarter of 2007.

(November 2006)

Ocean energy devices – New fields of technical activity to be studied by TC 88 (Wind turbines)November

New fields of technical activity to be investigated by TC 88 (Wind turbines)

The SMB has asked TC 88 (Wind turbines) to study the broader aspects of ocean energy devices, at its March 2007 meeting to provide the IEC with a proposal by April 2007. Ocean energy devices cover two broad classes of energy producing devices: tidal systems and wave systems. The review should also take into account the work of TC 4 (Hydraulic turbines) where appropriate.


This general approach includes system aspects which it is felt should be included in the strategic policy statements of certain TCs and SCs. A presentation was made at the NC Secretaries’ forum during the 2006 IEC General Meeting in Berlin. The matter is also to be discussed by the Task Force with a view to develop an implementation plan before the SMB meeting in February 2007.

(November 2006)

Standardization Management Board – 2006 General Meeting October

In the coming few months, we will be taking a closer look at some of the decisions taken by the Standardization Management Board and seeing how they affect IEC technical committee and subcommittee experts in relation to the IEC family as a whole. Of these, it is worth noting:

  • Work within the scope of IEC TC 79
  • Nanotechnologies standardization, its organization and structure
  • New fields of technical activity, such as ocean energy devices
  • The system approach and various aspects of TC/SCs
  • The IEC Masterplan 2006, its strategy and implementation
  • Transfer of activities of ISO/TC 86/SC 5 Refrigeration and air-conditioning/Testing and rating of household refrigeration appliances to IEC TC59 Performance of household electrical appliances
  • Revision of ISO/IEC Guide 73 Risk Management Terminology
  • The new subcommittee created within IEC TC 31
  • Discussions on the decimal marker
  • Timing constraints and deadlines for meeting IEC milestones.

(September 2006)

Technical Department restructuresOctober

On 1 September 2006 the IEC restructured the Technical Department by suppressing the Technical Director function, leading to a split of the SMB, strategic activities and contacts with other international organizations from the line management of the Technical Department.


Jack Sheldon is now Standardization Strategy Manager and, while maintaining his responsibilities for Technical Information Support and Services, or TISS, and for strategic development, he takes over the position of Secretary of the Standardization Management Board.


"I intend to continue with the changes to the SMB that have been going on over the past few years and maintain a balance between managing the technical work and strategic vision,” Sheldon says. “I’d like to see a pragmatic approach, which means giving proper attention to detail without getting bogged down while at the same time ensuring that we meet our strategic objectives as spelled out in Masterplan 2006."


Michael Casson is now Technical Department Manager, overseeing the line management activities covering IEC Central Office technical officers, administrative assistants, editors and document control staff who handle the document distribution and editing needed in the development of IEC publications.

Casson says, "We need to improve the dialogue with the technical committee and subcommittee officers to ensure that there is a good feed-back of information allowing us to improve continuously the services offered by the Technical Department."


Technical Director Raymond Cordelier has now become Advisor to the General Secretary until his retirement at the end of March 2007 and will mainly deal with strengthening the technical activities of the Regional Offices.

(September 2006)

SMB recommends Good Working PracticeSeptember

SMB requests that other TC/SC follow example of TC31's Good Working Practice

George Thompson
George Thompson
TC31 secretary

This month IEC Technical Committee 31 (Equipment for explosive atmospheres) announced the publication of the committee’s Good Working Practice code. This online working document constitutes the first of a new type of paper drawn up to help TC members from a particular team take a common approach in drafting new standards and organizing, communicating with and setting up or convening working groups and maintenance teams.


The document follows a remark made by TC31 Secretary, George F. Thompson and put to the Standardization Management Board meeting of January, 2006 in response to a question about the usefulness of IEC and ISO/IEC guides in drafting publications. It was felt that industry needs would be better reflected if each TC had its own standard practice document with the relevant links to all IEC guides and IT tools provided for the convenor at the start of any new project.


Not only did the SMB grant permission to publish, they also put out a request to other technical committees and subcommittees to use this as a model in drafting a similar document relating to their own activities.


TC31’s document is available for consultation online – in the same manner as the strategic policy statement – from the TC’s “General information” page on the IEC website (Good Working Practice).


The Good Working Practice code is particularly useful for the chairman, secretary and convenors in that it provides dynamic links to stylesheet templates and reference documents that are necessary for drafting publications and starting up new projects. It contains a check list of all the normative standard references and numbering clauses that need to be addressed and a record of definitions, common phrases, warning and caution markings that are relevant to TC31. At the same time, it details the step by step process of convening meetings and following up on drafted resolutions, action items and other project management milestones, together with all the general guidance that is necessary to good working practice.

(September 2006)

Performance measurement to follow new indicators while EDR procedure sees more adjustments August

Performance measurement to follow new indicators while EDR procedure sees more adjustments

In this month’s edition, we conclude our report of other important decisions taken during the Standardization Management Board (SMB) meeting held from 10-11 May 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark. These concern the performance of TC/SC secretaries/secretariats, the Essential Differences in Requirements (EDR) procedure in IEC standards and the review of Strategic Policy Statements (SPS) forms.


Based on the recommendations of its ad hoc group 22, the SMB agreed to establish the key performance indicators of TC/SC secretaries/Secretariats (described in SMB/3228/R).


The related performance forms can be completed by Central Office (CO) upon request of the National Committees (NC) that hold secretariats or the SMB. Such NCs can use the CO evaluations to make their own evaluation and can consult TC/SC chairmen, too.


Also, if a particular situation does not improve after six months, CO may decide after consultation with the NC to discuss the matter with the SMB.


Having completed its task, SMB ad hoc group 22 was disbanded.


EDR procedure
The SMB agreed to the following recommendations pertaining to EDR* in IEC standards:


1) Market justifications are not required when EDRs refer to climatic conditions;


2) The Concise Oxford English Dictionary ’s definition should be used for the term “technical infrastructures”; and


3) EDRs based on climatic conditions can be accepted at the Committee Draft Vote (CDV) level.


While recommendation four concerning the transfer of the admissibility stage of EDRs to a higher body was not approved, number three on the eventuality of having the EDR procedure as a separate part of an existing standard was not a ddressed by Council Board (CB) as it had decided earlier that the Global Relevance policy defined in 2001 would be reviewed as part of the priority actions identified in IEC’s Masterplan 2006.


Although the SMB agreed that these changes would apply until the end of the trial period (October 2006), it also recognized that a new approach that is less structured may be necessary in the future.


Last May the CB had also decided to set up a task force to review all available implementation procedures as well as their use with the aim of developing a “toolbox” by mid-2007. This document would contain useful existing or new procedures to help users meet market needs.


TC/SC officers’ satisfaction survey results are out
After a careful review of TC/SC officers’ responses, the SMB agreed that SPS forms and guidelines needed to be improved and for this the SMB has created ad hoc group 24. A report should be submitted to the SMB in February 2007.


The SMB also agreed that TC31 (Equipment for explosive atmospheres) could draft a “code of good working practice” for the TC’s work that refers to all relevant IEC publications. Other TCs/SCs can use this document as a model for their activities. TC31’s code is available on the TC’s “General information” page on the IEC website.

The SMB also:

* Approved a proposal for re-scheduling new training sessions for TC/SC officers in consultation with the TC/SC secretaries and agreement of the secretariats concerned; and
* Agreed for the Directive Maintenance Team to review responses about IEC Directives (Part 2 – Annex A on the Principles for drafting standards) to improve guidance for ensuring that IEC publications are market relevant. The SMB should receive a report on this issue in February 2007.

The SMB’s next meeting is scheduled for 25 September 2006, in Berlin.

TC News' 10th anniversary August

TC News' 10th anniversary

Following our invitation last month for contributions, and/or ideas in light of TC News' 10th anniversary, you will find below a list of suggestions received, which will be updated accordingly.

  • "an official IEC hymm, which could be played during official meetings, and represent IEC in other settings...", Jean Pasteau, Lord Kelvin awardee in 1997.
  • an "Analysis of International Standardization" by Dr. Hermann Koch from Siemens, Germany and Secretary of SC 17C (click here to access the article)
  • "Language policy in international standardization", by Hans Teichmann, former IEC Technical Officer, creator and 1st editor of TC News. (This article will appear in an upcoming edition of IEC e-tech).
  • Names of Working Groups’ Convenors could be mentioned in the foreword of the relevant standards. The main objectives/outcomes would be:
    • Personal valorisation of experts's work;
    • Possibility for other experts to get in touch directly with the right expert when searching for precise information on a specific standard. Proposal sent by Robert JeanJean, Responsible for technical standardization at EDF and TC38 / WG29 Convenor.
  • "An official IEC mascot"
  • "A retrospective technical quiz"

SMB paves the way for work on ocean energy devices, okays joint work with ISO July

SMB paves the way for work on ocean energy devices, okays joint work with ISO

In this month’s edition, we continue our report on two other important decisions taken during the Standardization Management Board’s meeting held from 10-11 May 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark . These concern ocean energy devices and explosive atmospheres.


New work to begin on ocean energy devices
In response to National Committees’ support for IEC to start work on ocean energy devices and to a proposal made by TC 4 (Hydraulic turbines), the SMB agreed that this area may be handled by this TC.


However, before taking a final decision and as TC4 does not cover entirely the area of ocean devices, the SMB asked the TC in consultation with TC88 to inform the SMB about how it intends to organize this new activity and to come up with more detailed proposals.


According to experts, some of the benefits of ocean power and technologies, which relies on the motion of waves to generate electricity should include significant energy gains due to the possibility of energy produced around the clock unlike wind power for example which varies depending the time of the day. Improved wave technology could enable wave generators to produce electricity at the same cost as the one generated by wind-driven turbines. Also, with no road infrastructure being necessary and with use of specific materials, production costs should also be lower. In addition to being less noisy and more discrete visually, wave power is also considered to be renewable and environmentally-friendly, particularly offshore.


ISO/IEC Joint work on “Explosive atmospheres"
The SMB considered the proposal of ISO’s Technical Management Board (TMB), to transform IEC TC31 (Equipment for explosive atmospheres) into a joint IEC/ISO TC. However, the SMB pointed out that due to several organizational issues attached to the creation of such a JTC, a new subcommittee should be created within IEC TC31. ISO is to hold the secretariat and the chairmanship. ISO’s TMB welcomed IEC’s proposal to establish such a SC at its last meeting, but at present a decision has not been made.

Within the new SC, members of both IEC and ISO are expected to produce double logo standards on “non electrical” matters.

IEC creates nanotechnology TC and opens door to ultra-high voltage transmission standardsJune

IEC creates nanotechnology TC and opens door to ultra-high voltage transmission standards

In this month’s edition, we report on two important decisions taken during the Standardization Management Board’s meeting held from 10-11 May 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark. These concern the establishment of a new IEC technical committee for nanotechnologies and the future development of ultra-high voltage standards.


Nanotechnology fully incorporated in IEC
During its meeting, the SMB agreed to establish IEC Technical Committee 113 to look at the rapidly growing technology of nanotechnologies.


sbm meeting

The IEC began thinking about creating this TC in 2004 and in 2005, set up a temporary advisory body on nanotechnology (SMB ABN No. 20).


For now, TC113 is to prepare s tandards in the field of nanotechnology relevant to electricity and related technologies that are pertinent to the IEC, liaising with other IEC TCs and relevant and interested national, regional and international standardization bodies and organizations. Special attention should also be given to ISO TC229 "Nanotechnology" to ensure coordination and to prevent work duplication.


At present Germany and the United States have expressed their interest in holding the secretariat of TC113, although other offers may be sent in to the IEC by 30 June 2006. The SMB will then decide which country will handle the new TC.


To ensure close cooperation with ISO*, the SMB asked SMB ABN 20 to make further recommendations and to review the proposed programme of work for the next SMB meeting in September in Berlin.


Ultra-high-voltage transmission standards

Copenhagen, Denmark

The SMB agreed with IEC Sector Board 1: Electricity transmission and distribution, that there may be a need for ultra-high-voltage in the near future. However, the SMB also expressed concern about whether the research done in this area was sufficient. It thus urged that before moving forward, an Ultra High Voltage Symposium should be held with CIGRE, EPRI and other research institutions as well as representatives from other IEC TCs dealing with this subject. This would help determine needs and priorities. In view of this, TC 8 was also considered as an important body that could play a key role in coordinating all standardization efforts.


With China being particularly interested in ultra-high voltage transmission equipment, the Chinese National Committee has offered to host the symposium. In the next 30 years, some experts also estimate that China will invest about USD 2 trillion in electricity generation, transmission and distribution.


* Following its meeting in June 2005 and as reported in the August 2005 edition of TC News, the SMB invited ISO, which had created a nanotechnology TC, to agree that standards developed by those TCs that are likely to affect the electrotechnical industry become dual-logo ISO/IEC standards.


Other important decisions taken by the SMB will be featured in upcoming editions of TC News.

New edition of IEC's medical electrical equipment standard in Parisian spotlightMay

New edition of IEC's medical electrical equipment standard in Parisian spotlight

Conferees in Paris had a chance in April to study the impact of the IEC’s new edition of its most important standard for medical electrical equipment. IEC 60601-1 is for those involved in design, testing and compliance of medical electrical equipment with safety standards and regulations. It specifies the general requirements for basic safety and essential performance for this equipment.


The conference highlighted the major changes occurring in today’s electromedical devices industry and was hosted by the Union Technique de l’Electricité et de la Communication (UTE), which is also the French National Committee of the IEC. The meeting took place from 4 to 7 April 2006 and looked at ways to:

  • Identify the most important changes compared to the previous edition;
  • Clarify the enhancements IEC 60601-1 offers; and
  • Understand the new edition’s impact in a regulatory environment at the national, European and international levels.

UTE brought together some 80 participants from nearly 45 companies, of which half are located in Denmark, England, the United States, Australia, Israel or Norway.


Through several presentations by various experts and workshop sessions, participants also had an opportunity to explore new concepts of essential performance and basic safety aspects of typical medical electrical equipment. These include hospital beds, anaesthesia and respiratory care, and medical imaging equipment. In addition, some presentations focused on how such equipment operates along with their applications.


Some of the presentations’ topics given during UTE’s conference covered:

  • History of IEC 60601-series
  • How standards are grown
  • Thermal and other hazards
  • Global Harmonization Task Force: "Approved once, accepted everywhere"
  • User perspectives (physicians, physicists, biomeds)
  • Medical imaging equipment
  • Anaesthesia and respiratory care equipment

Chuck Sidebottom, who works for Medtronic in the USA, is Secretary of IEC Subcommittee 62A (Common aspects of electrical equipment used in medical practice) and he gave a talk on the concepts of basic safety and essential performance. According to Sidebottom, “ The conference offered participants an excellent opportunity to interact with a number of experts heavily involved in the development of the third edition of IEC 60601-1.” He also said that the combination of conference and workshop spread over three and a half days, which offered many occasions for questions and dialogue between participants and speakers, provided an opportunity for everyone to learn.


While the conference enabled experts to highlight the new requirements affecting electrical, mechanical and thermal safety, much time was also spent on the integration of formal risk management into the revised standard.


Secretary of IEC/SC 62B (Diagnostic imaging equipment), Norbert Bischof, presented the approach his SC is developing to help its working groups identify essential performance for diagnostic imaging equipment. Secretary of IEC/SC 62D (Electromedical equipment), Mike Schmidt, presented his SC’s plans for aligning its standards with the new IEC 60601-1.


Upcoming events
In addition to UTE’s conference, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is organizing a North American Conference from 22-24 May 2006 in the Washington DC area. Many of the same speakers who were in Paris are expected to attend this event and similar conferences in other parts of Europe are being considered.


UTE is also organizing on 16 June 2006 two conferences dedicated to cable distribution cabinets for power distribution in networks. These will focus on decentralized rural electrification as well as alternative energies such as photovoltaics (more information is available at

Who do you want to nominate for this year's Lord Kelvin Award? April

Who do you want to nominate for this year's Lord Kelvin Award?


Nominations for the 2006 IEC Lord Kelvin Award are now open. As in previous years, all chairmen of IEC technical committees and subcommittees, as well as national committees, are encouraged to send their list of nominees for the prestigious award.


A few practical guidelines:

  • Candidates nominated by national committees do not necessarily have to be of the same nationality as the proposing NC;
  • Only candidates active in IEC work over the past twelve months (March 2005 to March 2006) are eligible;
  • Nominations must be accompanied by a curriculum vitae.

Nominees’ names (up to three) and qualifications can be sent by sent by e-mail to IEC’s Council Secretariat, to the attention of Mrs. T. Perret by 28 April 2006.


Created in 1995, the Lord Kelvin Award has established itself as a landmark within the electrotechnical community. It is named after the famous British scientist and engineer who played a vital role in the founding of the Commission in 1906 and became its first president. The award marks exceptional contributions and outstanding services by individuals to IEC technical work over a long period of time (at least five years). A maximum of three awards may be granted each year for qualities such as leadership, remarkable contribution to the growth, development and promotion of IEC systems and standards.

The winner(s) will be announced at the Council meeting during the 70th IEC Centenary General Meeting in Berlin, Germany, in September 2006.

Also, for those who have password access, the rules concerning eligibility for nominees may be found in this year's Administrative Circular AC/7/2006.

An analysis of International Standardization April

For TC News’ 10th anniversary, an invitation was sent out to our readers in January for contributions on topics ranging from the role of international standardization today and the hopes and concerns of experts contributing to the standardization process, to the key developments that have occurred in IEC technical committees and subcommittees. The contribution below focuses on the main factors that influence international standardization today.

An Analysis of international standardization

by Hermann Koch, Responsible for the business development of Siemens Power Technology and Secretary of SC17C (High-voltage switchgear and controlgear assemblies).


The process of standardization is subject to the constant changes and adaptation that occur in the electrical industry. In addition, globalization of the electrical business and the use of information technology (IT) have fundamentally changed international standardization over the past few years. These changes are valid for all new or traditional electrical industry technologies.


The use of IT tools and the continuously decreasing number of experts in the power industry on both sides, namely power equipment user and manufacturer, have resulted in an increased work load for standardization experts. The globalization of the power industry has also highlighted the need for more international standards while a reduction of national or regional work can be seen. This has led to more travelling around the world but has also increased the need for additional time to do standardization work.


IEC SC17C: a 10-year retrospective
SC 17C works in the field of electrical power supply, a more traditional technical field, where innovation cycles are relatively long (typically five years or more) compared to standards that are intended for computers.


Switchgear equipment for voltages higher than 1 000 V is not replaced often and service times of 30 years or even more are not rare. Innovations in this field also require technical changes and, with this, standards need to be adapted to bring them up to date. New technical developments thanks to the use of electronic and digital equipment also require new standards.


Figure 1 shows the work activities of SC17C since 1997. During this period, six new standards were developed and seven existing standards were revised. The graphic also shows a strong increase in work on standards from three parallel working groups (WGs) in 1997 to six parallel WGs in 2001 and seven parallel WGs in 2005 and 2006. Today, SC17C’s major work consists in revising standards with five maintenance teams (MTs) rather than defining new standards.


activities in SC 17C from 1997 to 2007

Fig. 1: SC17C’s activities from 1997 to 2007.


A look at the membership of SC17C’s WGs and MTs gives the distribution shown in Figure 2. The increase in number of WGs and MTs does not correspond to a reduction in number of people doing the work. In 1997, about 35 active members served in three WGs, while in 2004, some 65 active members worked in six WGs or MTs.


However, the number of experts has been declining since 2000, which saw the maximum number of active experts: more than 100.


The consequence of having fewer specialists means there are fewer experts per WG or MT, which results in increased work loads for everyone.


active experts of all WGs and MTs

Fig. 2: Active experts of all WGs and MTs


Several questions then arise when trying to figure out the above numbers. Are these related to user, manufacturer, test institutes or consultants? Apart from showing us the distribution of experts between the years 1997 to 2005, Figure 3 also shows that the percentage of experts in WGs or MTs related to manufacturers has been relatively constant. But the user percentage has declined from about 20% to 10% and an increase in percentages can be seen for test institutes and consultants, who have replaced declining users.


Figure 3 also shows that the loss of experts in IEC WGs and MTs, as shown in Figure 2, does not affect the percentage of manufacturers but causes a shift of 10% from user to test institutes and consultants.


Having fewer users participating in IEC work is a disadvantage for the content of international standards because their practical experience of using electrical equipment is of great value in all the WGs and MTs. Maintaining this flow of information on practical experience should be the main priority since it benefits all to have the best products in place.


Percentages of manufacturers, users and test institutes/consultants (1997 to 2005)

Fig. 3: Percentages of manufacturers, users and test institutes/consultants (1997 to 2005)


Reducing the development time of standards
When it comes to speed of work, the following have contributed to accelerating the development time of standards in addition to making work procedures easier:

  • Use of electronic documents and of visual projection during meetings, and the possibility of making “open” changes to documents, that are traceable for every expert. Also, with less circulation of documents, a consensus on the content can be reached by the WGs and MTs experts more quickly.
  • Restructuring of IEC processes and the shortening of administrative time taken to process documents.
  • Pressure on experts representing a company to limit time spent on standardization work in the WGs and MTs in some cases increases the likelihoods of a compromise. This also enables experts to limit long discussions or debates on principles that have a low impact on a standard’s content, which is another advantage.
  • Faster working speed, with shorter times for standard writing or revision, without infringing on quality, is also of benefits to all. Good project management, with tight control over schedules, supporting the WGs and MTs in the process of standardization, and the use of IT tools also help to reduce the time needed to write or revise a standard from five to four years on average. (Editor’s note: average development time for all IEC publications now stands at 38 months)

Effects of Globalization
The electrical power industry is very global, with a concentration of main manufacturers in Europe and Japan and the a growing number in China, Taiwan, Korea and India. Meanwhile, user markets are distributed all over the world, as electrical power supply is needed everywhere. Therefore, international standardization is a key issue for manufacturers and users. Based on the existing standards product requirements and design rules, testing criteria have also been defined to meet national needs. Along with this, market penetration is increasing every year. This is the motor of standardization work.


Figure 4 shows that globalization has not had an impact on the nationality of participating experts in IEC WGs and MTs, who mostly come from Europe. This geographical representation is likely to change in the next few years.


European and Non-European experts in IEC Working Groups and Maintenance Teams

Fig. 4: European and Non-European experts in IEC Working Groups and Maintenance Teams


Finally, one can cite three main factors that influence international standardization and its development: speed of work, volume of work, and globalization.


Speed of work:
Greater productivity in writing and revising standards is made possible thanks to electronic documents. They can be transferred quickly and provide good control over changes according to when, by whom, and how. Using projectors to show documents to everybody during physical meetings also makes the process more open and transparent, reducing the need for prolonged discussion.


Volume of work:
Technical changes, the optimization of products and processes, the integration of information technology and the introduction of new digital systems require new standards and the revision of existing ones. Sensitivity to the environment, safety and waste are expected to add new requirements to the standards of tomorrow, which should also lead to more standards in the future.


The effects of this are also expected to influence standardization in the near future and in a much stronger way than we can see today. Growing new markets, mainly in Asia, will set their own requirements for standards too. Participation of experts from these countries is likely to increase in the future.


In short, for the field of switchgear and controlgear, international standardization is expected to continue to grow in importance, with globalization of business and the optimization of products as the motors for a new generations of standards.

TC News' 10th anniversary March

Following our invitation last month for contributions, and/or ideas in light of TC News' 10th anniversary, you will find below a list of suggestions received, which will be updated accordingly.


  • "an official IEC hymm, which could be played during official meetings, and represent IEC in other settings...", Jean Pasteau, Lord Kelvin awardee in 1997.
  • an "Analysis of International Standardisation" by Dr. Hermann Koch from Siemens, Germany and Secretary of SC 17C
  • Names of Working Groups’ Convenors could be mentioned in the foreword of the relevant standards.

The main objectives/outcomes would be:

  • Personal valorisation of experts's work;
  • Possibility for other experts to get in touch directly with the right expert when searching for precise information on a specific standard. Proposal sent by Robert JeanJean, Responsible for technical standardization at EDF and TC38 / WG29 Convenor.

Interactive timeline for electrotechnology March

SMB decisions - Part 2 - February 2006 March

SMB decisions - February 2006 - Part 2

P-membership status
Regarding the participation of P-members in IEC technical work, the SMB asked that a periodic list on P-member voting be provided for information, also to reflect ISO/IEC Directives 1.7.5.

The SMB also encouraged TC/SCs to:

  • evaluate at each plenary committee meeting their P-member participation based on such things as the availability of experts that can participate and contribute to such meetings;
  • ensure internal procedures are adapted to cope with voting on documents within the requested time periods.

This information is to be sent to the SMB in a template prepared by Central Office.

SMB decisions - Part 1- February 2006 February

SMB decisions - February 2006

In this month’s edition, we report on three important decisions taken during the Standardization Management Board’s (SMB) most recent meeting which was held from 7-8 February 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland. These concern the disbanding of SMB ad hoc group 21, the conversion of IECEE CTL Guide 001 into an IEC Guide and Guide 108.


Disbanding of SMB ahG 21
The SMB decided to disband ad hoc group 21, which had been established in June 2005 to focus on the use of IEC International Standards for regulatory purposes. Although no other group is likely to take over the work, ISO’s Technical Management Board, which is dealing with the same subject, has suggested that it contribute a draft guide to IEC that could be converted into a dual logo guide.


IECEE CTL Guide 001
The SMB agreed that IECEE’s CTL Guide 001 (Application of uncertainty of measurement to conformity assessment activities in the electrotechnical sector) be converted into an IEC Guide that is relevant to the product TCs producing standards used in IEC’s three conformity assessment and product certification schemes.

Once edited, the guide is to be sent out to IEC National Committees for vote and listed in the ISO/IEC Directives (Part 2, Annex B). The new guide has the backing of the IEC’s Conformity Assessment Board.

Guide 108
The revised draft of Guide 108: The relationship between technical committees with horizontal functions and product committees and the use of basic publications is to be sent to NCs for approval. Upon approval, the SMB agreed that the guide should be sent to relevant TCs whose horizontal standards are in line with the revised guide.

Other decisions will be described in upcoming editions of TC News.

Who do you want to nominate for this year's 1906 Award? February

Who do you want to nominate for this year’s 1906 Award?

It’s that time of the year to nominate your best candidates for the 1906 Award as nominations are now open.


Like for the previous two editions, TC chairmen and secretaries ─ taking into account advice from SCs ─ are invited to send their lists of nominees to Central Office by end of March 2006 to Gisèle Pomel . TC officers may nominate up to five experts per TC, including project leaders and convenors of working group. However, a person active in a TC or SC who is also an officer of another committee may be nominated for the Award in his capacity as expert. (Please see AC/1/2006).


TC officers are asked to include a short tribute describing the activities for which the award is proposed. Also, anyone may receive more than one award, each for a different specific contribution, during their involvement in IEC work .


1906 Award

Recipients of the 1906 Award will receive an personalized certificate signed by the IEC General Secretary and the SMB Chairman and the special IEC pin by the relevant NC president at an appropriate occasion at the national level.


Created in 2004, the 1906 Award was established in commemoration of the IEC’s year of foundation. It honours IEC technical experts around the world who have made an exceptional, recent contribution – either technical or from an organizational point of view – of a specific work project that contributes to the advancement of the Commission or electrotechnology in general.


Last year, a total of 118 experts from 35 technical committees and 19 National Committees received the 1906 Award.


If you need additional information on the 1906 Award, please contact Gisèle Pomel, Assistant to the IEC Technical Director.

  • TCs/SCs survey: With results being finalized, we will report on the survey in an upcoming edition of TC News. Thank you for your patience!

Your ideas for TC News' 10th anniversaryFebruary

Following our invitation last month for contributions, and/or ideas in light of TC News' 10th anniversary, you will find below a list of suggestions received, which will be updated accordingly.


  • "an official IEC hymm, which could be played during official meetings, and represent IEC in other settings...", Jean Pasteau, Lord Kelvin awardee in 1997
  • an "Analysis of International Standardisation" by Dr. Hermann Koch from Siemens, Germany and Secretary of SC 17C

TC News to celebrate 10th anniversary January

TC News to celebrate 10th anniversary in 2006

What’s the relation between 2006 and TC News? As you may already know, this year the IEC celebrates its centenary. But 2006 also marks another upcoming anniversary as TC News reaches its 10th year of publication.


To mark this anniversary* we are planning to prepare a special (if not several) edition(s) that should enable readers and the IEC community to find out more about TC News’ development and standardization work within the IEC during the past 10 years.


As TC News readers and subscribers, we would like to invite you to contribute to these editions. You could send us a short text regarding one or several of the following topics: how do you view international standardization work today within the IEC compared to several years ago? What major decisions have most affected your work? What are some of your hopes and concerns regarding standardization work? How has your TC/SC evolved during the past 10 years?


Please send contributions, suggestions and/or further questions to:

We look forward to hearing from you.


*Launched in December 1996 by Hans Teichmann, former IEC Senior Engineer, TC News ’ main goal remains to inform readers and subscribers of important decisions - taken by IEC’s Standardization Management Board - that may affect their work. TC News also features other articles of interest to the IEC community, in addition to being open to contributions from readers.


Next month, read about the TCs/SCs satisfaction survey results and decisions taken during the SMB’s next meeting that is to take place from 7-8 February 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland.