IEC, IAF and ILAC join forces

Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding prolongs collaboration for the next three-year

By Claire Marchand

The IEC has had a tradition of cooperating with other standardization and conformity assessment (CA) organization for many years. In addition to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with which it forms the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), one of the Commission’s main partners is the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the context of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement. These are but a few of the 180+ bodies with which the IEC has close links.

IEC IAF ILAC MoU signing 2015
From left, Randy Dougherty, Chairman IAF, Kerry McManama, Executive Secretary IECEE/IECRE and Peter Unger, ILAC Chairman during the signing ceremony in Milan, Italy on 28 October

Long-standing cooperation

On the conformity assessment side, one agreement, made between the IEC and its CA Systems on the one part, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) on the other, has proved highly rewarding, with increased levels of collaboration.

From day one, cooperation between the three organizations has evolved extremely positively on a number of technical and administrative fronts. These collaborative efforts culminated in the three organizations signing their first MoU in October 2010. In 2012, the high level of confidence established between them led the IEC CA Systems and the members of ILAC and IAF to expand the scope of the first tripartite MoU when it was up for renewal.

Maximizing efficiency

The aim of the initial agreement was to maximize efficiency when dealing with common Certification Body (CB) and Testing Laboratory (TL) clients. One means of achieving this was by re-assessing these CBs and TLs jointly to avoid duplication of processes. Under the 2012 agreement, collaboration was no longer limited to joint re-assessments, but also covered initial assessments and surveillance as appropriate.

Since 2010 more than 40 unified assessments/re-assessments have been performed throughout the world.

To continue this most fruitful cooperation, a new MoU was signed on 28 October 2015 in Milan, Italy, by ILAC Chairman Peter Unger, IAF Chairman Randy Dougherty and IECEE/IECRE Executive Secretary Kerry McManama, on behalf of IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk.

While the scope of the agreement remains the same, the three interested parties said how pleased they were with the work accomplished in recent years.

Indeed, the agreement is more than just about assessment/re-assessment.

Pooling resources

To ensure that collaboration is as full as possible, the three organizations have agreed to coordinate the application of standards and guidance documents for the assessment of the CBs and TLs accredited by IAF and ILAC and operating in the IEC CA Systems.

The MoU also stipulates that joint training and workshops should be organized for the pool of technical assessors that are entitled to perform unified assessments of CBs and TLs.

High-level Steering Committee

In the wake of the 2010 MoU, the IEC-IAF-ILAC Steering Committee was formed to explore the possibilities for further harmonization of the three organizations' assessments and related activities.

The Steering Committee, currently chaired by ILAC Chairman Peter Unger, is responsible for developing the cooperation strategy; establishing working parties to deal with specific issues pertaining to the three organizations; monitoring, reviewing and providing assistance for agreed projects; approving changes to these projects; resolving conflicts and making decisions on formal acceptance of project deliverables.

The IEC-ILAC-IAF Steering Committee has prepared guidelines to enhance the existing procedures for unified assessments of participating certification bodies and testing laboratories.

A dedicated website provides information on the tripartite agreement, the Steering Committee and its task forces, relevant documentation and a list of the re-assessments performed since the first MoU came into force.

More info: www.iecee.org / www.iec-ilac-iaf.org/

Gallery
IEC IAF ILAC MoU signing 2015 From left, Randy Dougherty, Chairman IAF, Kerry McManama, Executive Secretary IECEE/IECRE and Peter Unger, ILAC Chairman during the signing ceremony in Milan, Italy on 28 October
Under the IECEE CB Scheme, test laboratories can perform all types of electrcal testing... Under the IECEE CB Scheme, test laboratories can perform all types of electrical testing, for example...
Portable appliance testing ...portable appliance testing (PAT) i.e. the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use (Photo: AVC Electronic)