SMB Meeting in Vladivostok

SMB Chair shares key decisions and developments

By Gabriela Ehrlich

IEC e-tech talked with Ralph Sporer, new IEC Vice-President and Chair of the Standardization Management Board (SMB) during the General Meeting in Vladivostok, Russia. Sporer shared key decisions and expected impact as well as thoughts regarding his first year at the helm of the SMB. 

Ralph Sporer, IEC Council, Vladivostok, 2017 IEC SMB Chair and Vice-President Ralph Sporer

Digital transformation

Digitization is impacting every aspect of human social interactions and every imaginable activity, environment and technology. It is a broad subject that will transform how the IEC works and how its publications and services will be used. The new Strategic Group (SG) 12 will help identify all aspects of digital transformation that are relevant to IEC activities. It will evaluate emerging trends, technologies and practices that are important for the development, delivery and use, as well as their impact on IEC services and processes.

SG 12 will also provide a link between the IEC and external entities such as ISO, ITU and others that are relevant to IEC activities. It will provide a platform for discussions and help stimulate cooperation between internal and external audiences. The Strategic Group will provide a report to SMB in June 2018. 

However, some of these topics go beyond the SMB, touching all areas of IEC work and management. 

New Systems Committee on Smart Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 – also called smart manufacturing or factory of the future – is gaining traction all around the globe. Much of the value of Industry 4.0 will depend on understanding opportunities, exploring new business models and delivering value to the end user. However, technology, data collection and analysis will play an essential enabling role. The industrial internet of things (IIOT) will link the physical world of manufacturing with the wide internet of things (IoT). It will require the unprecedented integration of devices and systems, including a wide range of sensors, artificial intelligence, control and algorithms, big data, cloud and edge computing and other technologies to support hyper awareness, informed decision making and reactivity. It will cover the whole product life cycle from conception, cradle to grave and to rebirth, supported by constant feedback loops. Here as everywhere else, Standards will be key. 

The SMB agreed with the recommendations of the Standards Evaluation Group (SEG) 7 and established a new Systems Committee, SyC Smart manufacturing. Its scope will be to provide coordination and advice in the area of Industry 4.0 and to harmonize and advance related activities in the IEC but also with other SDOs and consortia. The aim is to increase transparency of SyC work with technical committees (TCs) and other groups. The SyC will be given a list of defined tasks and is requested to take note of ongoing work in other IEC and ISO TC/SCs related to smart manufacturing. In this context, the SMB also agreed to set up a Joint IEC/ISO “Smart Manufacturing Standards Map” task force, as agreed by the ISO/TMB. The SEG is now disbanded.

Cooperation: a must

While companies today are more competitive than ever, they also need to cooperate as never before in order to deliver broad, integrated solutions for increasingly complex systems. No single company or organization can do everything alone. In this context, it is no longer sufficient that we develop good Standards, we also have to bring on board know-how and expertise and avoid duplication. To this end we need to further increase cooperation with other SDOs and consortia. One task is to make them aware of our work and the benefits of cooperation. SMB ad hoc Group (ahG) 75 will develop guidelines for TC/SCs and consortia to explain the options, processes and expectations of cooperation with each other and provide the input for the development of relevant communications and outreach material. 

Hot topics

Sporer reminds us what Heraclius said: “The only constant in life is change. We are living in interesting times and we have to remain on the look-out for emerging trends that are of importance to IEC work.  For this reason SMB has created SG 11: Hot Topic radar, which aims to identify new technologies or issues that might impact the IEC now or in the next few years.”

New technical work

The SMB has set up two new technical committees (TCs) to address new market needs. IEC TC 123: Standardization of the management of assets in power systems, will look into how to best maintain and update aging equipment. IEC TC 124: Wearable electronic devices and technologies will cover standardization needs for patchable, implantable, edible materials as well as electronic textiles.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Sporer underlines that he found the first year on the job interesting and stimulating. “The contact with various people, whether officers, experts, volunteers or IEC staff, showed the richness of knowledge within the IEC and the dedication towards the overall goals of the organization, which is one of its key assets. Being part of the IEC community is really rewarding and convinces me that we can tackle the challenges of the future. The main challenge ahead is to stay and even increase our relevance for all stakeholders. We have to constantly ask ourselves: is this the best way or is there a better, faster, more efficient one”, says Sporer.

Ralph Sporer, IEC Council, Vladivostok, 2017 IEC SMB Chair and Vice-President Ralph Sporer
smart manufacturing The SMB established a new Systems Committee, SyC Smart manufacturing
Duoskin on-skin wearable DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin (Photo Duoskin - MIT Media Lab)