A giant network

Smart technologies rely on IECQ for safe and reliable electronic components

By Claire Marchand

Smart and connectivity are two of the words that probably best describe our society in the 21st century. Everyone and everything is connected nowadays. Cities, buildings, transportation means, mobile devices are becoming smarter. Even the most mundane objects – the smart frying pan is a good example – have their connected version. 

Smart city connectivity Smart and connectivity are two of the words that define today's society

Smart, smarter, smartest

All this connectivity, all this 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), i.e. “the increasingly prevalent environment in which almost anything imaginable can be outfitted with a unique identifier (UID) and the ability to transmit data over the Internet or a similar network”, according to the IoT Agenda. 

Key technology

Sensors, smart or not, and sensor systems are a key underpinning technology for a wide range of applications. They can be used to improve quality control and productivity in manufacturing processes by monitoring variables such as temperature, pressure, flow and composition. They help ensure the environment is clean and healthy by monitoring the levels of toxic chemicals and gases emitted in the air, both locally and – via satellites – globally. They monitor area and regional compliance with environmental standards. They enhance health, safety and security in the home and workplace through their use in air-conditioning systems, fire and smoke detection and surveillance equipment. They play a major role in medical devices, transportation, entertainment equipment and everyday consumer products. 

Technological innovations have brought a new generation of tiny sensors, such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). These are smaller, smarter and can be integrated into fixed and portable devices. 

But whatever the size of the sensor, the device has to be accurate and reliable. Whatever it measures, the measurement has to be extremely precise. A defective sensor can have serious consequences, even putting human lives in jeopardy. 

Safe, reliable and cost-effective

Sensor 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 is the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components. 

As the worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ tests and certifies components using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards. 

In addition, there is a multitude of related materials and processes that are covered by the IECQ Schemes. IECQ certificates are used worldwide as a tool to monitor and control the manufacturing supply chain, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market, and eliminating the need for multiple re-assessments of suppliers. 

IECQ operates industry specific Certification Schemes:

While most of these Schemes have been in place for many years and are widely used by electronic component manufacturers and suppliers, IECQ AC-AQP and the IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting, both under the umbrella of the IECQ Approved Component Scheme, are more recent but very promising and well received by industry players throughout the world. 

Addressing the needs of the automotive sector

IECQ AQP gives the automotive industry a standardized and cost-effective way of testing the components to ensure they meet expected quality, safety and reliability requirements. This way, automotive manufacturers know how the performances of components compare. IECQ AQP helps automotive manufacturers avoid multiple second party assessments, tests and related costs. 

IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting

The new IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting, developed in 2015, 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. 

This removes the cost burden of monitoring and controlling the supply chain by reducing the number of “second party” assessments and audits, from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to their suppliers, while also protecting the OEM brand name in the market. This also helps prevent poor-quality LED systems from entering the market. 

During its April 2016 meeting, the IECQ Management Committee finalized and approved for publication the new Rules of Procedures and Operational Documents addressing the certification of manufacturers and suppliers of components used in LED lighting systems. 

IECQ Chair and experts to receive IEC Awards

The IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) will bestow the Thomas A. Edison Award on Marie-Elisabeth d’Ornano, Chair of IECQ, in recognition of outstanding contribution to IEC work. She will receive the Award at the CAB meeting on 10 October, during the IEC General Meeting in Frankfurt. 

Two IECQ experts, Howard Brewer (UK) and Joe Lee (US), were nominated to receive the 2016 IEC 1906 Award, which recognizes exceptional recent achievements that contribute in a significant way to advancing the work of the Commission. 

Focus on supply chain management

As part of the annual IECQ meetings, in Paris, France, a one-day conference on International Supply Chain Management included presentation on key components of effective supply chains and the role played by IECQ, the control of hazardous substances in the supply chain and counterfeit avoidance. 

Reaching out to industry

IECQ reached out to industry through participation at several international events in the past 12 months, including:


The IECQ On-Line Certificate System is the repository of all IECQ-issued certificates. Accessing the database provides industry with instant verification of any claims of compliance. 

More information: www.iecq.org

Smart city connectivity Smart and connectivity are two of the words that define today's society
SmartPrompt Pan The numerous sensors built into the SmartPrompt Pan, a frying pan with a screen built into the handle, is meant to help people become more effective cooks (Photo: Key Ingredients)
LED COB IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting is operational since 2015. It 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