Adding complex systems to the equation

IEC Training Workshop on standardization strategy, processes and tools for Swiss stakeholders

By Claire Marchand

The era of stand-alone products came to an end together with the 20th century. Granted, interoperability and interconnectivity have been staples of industrial and commercial operations for many years but now, with the new millennium, they have hit the streets.

Swiss workshop group Participants in the workshop gave very positive feedback on the two-day event

Mundane and complex in one

Even the most mundane goods – think toaster or kettle, fridge or garage door – are connected, can be remotely operated from your phone, your tablet or your computer.

Behind these “fun” developments are complex systems and in turn, behind these complex systems are standards, in particular IEC International Standards, which allow devices and goods to fit together smoothly and “talk” to one another. And behind the Standards are thousands of technical experts who define and write the specification for each type of product in such a way that they can become part of a system without a glitch.

Swiss companies on board

Companies, in particular those that are doing business at the international level, recognize the importance of standardization and conformity assessment (CA), the two pillars of IEC work. They know that, relying on IEC International Standards and certificates issued by the IEC CA Systems, their access to markets can be sped up. Time is of the essence. Because technologies are evolving at such a rapid pace today, delays in marketing a product can have dire financial consequences and even damage the reputation of a company. None of them wants to have a flop in their portfolio.

Using IEC International Standards is one thing, but it is usually not enough. Participating in IEC standardization work allows companies to have their voice heard and to influence standards development.

A great number of Swiss or Swiss-based companies have understood the added value that using International Standards, as well as participating in their development, brings to their business.

Optimizing standardization work

The IEC, a pioneer in offering experts a 100% electronic environment, is constantly improving and adding to the IT tools the experts have at their disposal. Using these tools makes standardization work easier, more efficient and allows smoother communication between experts within a given TC.

To ensure that TCs make the most of these tools to optimize their work, the IEC offers to train experts in tailor-made standardization workshops.

Newcomers and seasoned experts

At the request of the Swiss Electrotechnical Committee (CES), one of these workshops took place in Fehraltorf, Switzerland, at the headquarters of Electrosuisse, on 7-8 April 2015.

According to the programme, the first day of the workshop was aimed at newcomers to standardization work and experts in need of a refresher course. Throughout the presentations and discussions, they had a chance to get better acquainted with the role of the IEC in standardization and CA, as well as the IT tools and services the Commission offers to all experts in the community.

The second day was for the more experienced experts, those who are already familiar with the IEC electronic environment and work practices but want to hone their skills and become more efficient in their standardization activities.

A number of experts who attended the first day of presentations also decided to take part in the second workshop to get the most out of the programme.

All systems go

The event was a good opportunity for the IEC to introduce the audience to the IEC systems approach, the newly-established Systems Committees (SyCs) and Systems Evaluation Groups (SEGs) and their role alongside regular Technical Committees (TCs) within the IEC.

High-level presence

The event, run by Jan-Henrik Tiedemann, IEC Community Manager, brought together about 80 participants from industry, legislation and conformity assessment.

Also present were two member of the Board of Directors of Electrosuisse:

Samuel Ansorge, who is President of the Swiss National Committee (NC) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Pfisterer, a leading and independent Swiss-based manufacturer of cable accessories and a specialist in power transmission and energy distribution, gave an opening speech during the first day, explaining the strategic advantage of active participation in IEC standardization.

Herrmann Willi, Director of the Electrical Installations Department in the Swiss Federal Office of Transport Safety Division, gave an overview ofthe use of IEC International Standards for legislation during his opening speech on the second day of the workshop.

Positive feedback

The feedback from all participants was extremely positive. They felt that putting into practice what they had learnt during the two days would help them to more actively participate in IEC standardization work and better use the IT tools at their disposal and optimize their standardization work, both at the national and international level.

They expressed the wish to have more training in the various IT tools, processes and guidelines.

Swiss workshop group Participants in the workshop gave very positive feedback on the two-day event
Samuel Ansorge Samuel Ansorge gave the opening speech on the first day of the workshop, explaining the strategic advantage of active participation in IEC standardization
Herrmann Willi In his speech, Herrmann Willi stresses the importance of IEC International Standards as a basis for legislation