Industrial automation certified

IECEE responds to market demand

By Claire Marchand

From the wheel that helped transport heavy loads to the fire that provided heat, inventions and discoveries have made life much easier. The advent of electricity was a turning point in the industrial world. Automated operations were introduced that could be performed without the need for human intervention. The development of automation throughout the 20th century brought enormous changes: some jobs disappeared, others underwent major transformations and new ones were created.

Automated production line in solar silicon factory
Automated production line in solar silicon factory

Clear advantages of automated processes

The advantages of having automated systems were soon recognized by industry. Human operators can be replaced in tasks that involve hard physical or monotonous work, or those that are performed in hazardous environments such as fires, nuclear facilities, underwater and so forth. Automated systems can also undertake jobs that cannot be performed by human beings because of demands such as speed, size, weight or endurance. Automated processes often result in higher end quality and reliability in the assembly chain.

The automotive industry has been transformed radically by the development of automation, but it is not the only one. Over time, the food industry, pharmaceutical and other manufacturing companies have relied heavily on automation to produce more and at lower cost. Today, it can be said that most sectors of industry use at least some element of automation.

Complex systems

The rapid evolution of IT (information technology) in the second part of the 20th century has also enabled engineers to create more and more complex control systems integrating the factory floor.

IEC support

The IEC has a number of TCs (Technical Committees) that prepare standards that deal with specific areas of industrial automation. IEC TC 65: Industrial-process measurement, control and automation, provides many of the standards that are relevant for industry. IEC TC 17: Switchgear and controlgear, IEC TC 22: Power electronic systems and equipment and IEC TC 44: Safety of machinery - Electrotechnical aspects, all play important roles in this field.

Certification for industrial automation

Most of the standards developed by these IEC TCs are already integrated in services provided by IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components. However, IECEE WG (Working Group) 2: Business Development, identified a market need for a specific service dedicated to industrial automation and has put in place the development of a new service that will provide manufacturers not only with a list of IEC International Standards that are essential in industrial automation, but also enable them to have their products and systems tested and certified by IECEE TLs (Testing Laboratories) and CBs (Certification Bodies).

Benefits of the IECEE System

The IECEE System is open to any manufacturer anywhere in the world. Today, more than 50 000 manufacturers benefit from the IECEE CB Scheme, enabling them to trade their products on the global market. More than half a million IECEE CB Test Certificates have been issued over the last 10 years.

In most countries IECEE Test Reports and Test Certificates are proof of compliance to regulatory requirements. Retailers, buyers and vendors are happy to import electrical goods that have been tested and certified by the IECEE System.

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Automation combines the use of control systems and information technology applications to provide solutions to different industrial needs Automation combines the use of control systems and information technology applications to provide solutions to different industrial needs
Automated production line in solar silicon factory Automated production line in solar silicon factory
Control systems tie together production, material ordering, consumption monitoring, process supervision, costing, maintenance Control systems tie together production, material ordering, consumption monitoring, process supervision, costing, maintenance