Safe connections

IECQ: Ensuring safety and reliability for the electronics industry community as well as for end users

By Claire Marchand

Artificial intelligence, robotics, biometrics, virtual and augmented reality, smart transportation, digital health and 5G connectivity are hot topics these days. What is their common denominator? They all rely heavily on electronic components – in fact they would not even exist if not for them.

exploded view of LED bulb Exploded view of a LED lightbulb

Smaller and more powerful than ever…

Electronic components are at the heart of the smart world we live in. Human activities – home, workplace, leisure and sports, travel and tourism, education, healthcare – increasingly depend on a smart something or other. 

All this connectivity and smartness would not be possible without electronic components, sensors, in the first place. Sensors are what make devices smart, and they have become smart themselves. They form a crucial and integral part of the internet of things (IoT). The "thing" in IoT can be a person with a glucose-monitoring skin wearable, a car that can detect blind spots or alert the driver when tyre pressure is higher or lower than what it should be, a farm animal with a biochip transponder that tracks all its movements, in short, any object that can be assigned an IP address and can transfer data to a network. 

…safer and more reliable as well

Electronic components are key elements that enable devices to connect and exchange data. Because they are used in so many different devices and systems, they have to be of high quality and reliability. A faulty component in a smart medical device or in a car electronic system can result at best in poor performance but also in injuries or fatalities. 

IECQ certification: a global solution

Electronic component manufacturers and suppliers all over the world have a powerful tool at their disposal, enabling their products to meet the strictest requirements: IECQ testing and certification. IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, is a worldwide approval and certification system that covers the supply, assembly, associated materials and processes of a large variety of electronic components that are used in millions of devices and systems. IECQ provides manufacturers with independent verification that IEC International Standards and other specifications were met by suppliers who hold an IECQ certification. 

The CA System provides the following core certification schemes and programmes which serve as an effective supply chain management tool for industry in verifying compliance with component specifications and Standards:

Avionics Users Forum

The IECQ Avionics Scheme and the IECQ AP-CAP have been in place for many years. And now, the IECQ Management Committee (MC) is in the process of establishing a discussion forum for the avionics community. The Avionics Users Forum (AUF) is an additional service offering of the IECQ to provide several technical forums dedicated to specific issues pertaining to the avionics industry sector, a result of the cooperation between IECQ and STACK International. 

The decision to set up the AUF was made at the IECQ MC meeting in May 2017 in preparation for the transfer of technical committee activities from non-profit subscription-based STACK International, with which IECQ had been cooperating for many years. STACK International, a consortium of defence and aerospace peers “committed to sharing experience, market intelligence, emerging initiatives and best practices to optimize supply chain excellence and mitigate risk”, terminated its operations in December 2017. 

The objective of the forum will be to discuss relevant industry standards and their audit programmes, with the aim of providing technical assistance, technical benchmarking activities, information on new technical issues and greater clarity to the user community. It will also provide comments and advice back into the relevant standards committees in particular IEC Technical Committee (TC) 107: Process management for avionics, and the IECQ ADHP component management scheme. 

AUF will not publish any standards or audit schemes but provide the framework for information exchange between members and may make recommendations and offer standardized wording to other committees. 

Members are typically avionics original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their subcontractors although regulators and air-framers can attend select technical forums pending approval by the AUF.

Forum membership is international and participation from all geographical areas of the globe is actively encouraged to provide a balanced membership. 

As stated above, AUF oversees and manages a series of topic-specific technical forums on:

  • Audit programmes (TF01)
  • Harmonization standards (TF02)
  • Electronic Component Management Plan (ECMP)  and Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) assemblies, including uprating (TF04)
  • Lead-free/REACH (TF05)
  • Anti-counterfeit/obsolescence management (TF06)
  • Microcircuits, diodes, transistors, passive and semiconductor wear-out (TF08)
  • LED lighting (TF09)
  • Atmospheric SEE radiation (TF11)
  • Mechanical parts (TF12) 

TF2, the harmonization forum, may have additional discussions on standards strategy and consider appropriate common wording for other external committees outside IECQ. 

Training focuses on IECQ HSPM

The IECQ System provides industry with a "supply chain verification tool" for seeking assurance that electronic components, assemblies, processes and related materials conform to declared technical Standards and Specifications. Because technically-competent personnel are an integral part of the IECQ System, IECQ facilitate standardized training through IECQ training workshops and IECQ Standard training course material, in support of the IECQ System and its schemes/programmes. 

The publication of the fourth edition of IECQ QC 080000 in May 2017 led to the organization of a series of training sessions, mainly in Asia. 

LED certification

The IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting, established under the umbrella of the generic IECQ AC Scheme, can be applied to certify manufacturers and suppliers of electronic components, modules and assemblies used in the production of LED packages, engines, lamps, luminaires and associated LED ballasts/drivers. It provides a standardized approach for evaluating suppliers and is used as a powerful supply chain management tool when assessing and monitoring the various tier-level suppliers. 

Since September 2016, when IECQ issued the first certificate under its IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting, many manufacturers and/or suppliers have obtained certificates. 

More information on IECQ: www.iecq.org

Gallery
futuristic medical concept This is what medical practice may be like in the (not so) distant future
ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket United Launch Alliance (ULA)’s Vulcan Centaur rocket with a complete avionics package developed by L3 (Photo rendering: ULA/Business Wire)
exploded view of LED bulb Exploded view of a LED lightbulb