A year of brand building and increasing visibility

IEC General Secretary addresses Council

By Antoinette Price

During his address to Council, IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk highlighted the main achievements since Minsk and talked about important ongoing projects.

Frans Vreeswijk speaking during IEC Council meeting in Frankfurt 2016 Frans Vreeswijk addressing IEC Council in Frankfurt, Germany

Protecting the IEC brand

The IEC continues to protect its brand through registration. Currently 73 countries have confirmed registrations. The National Committees (NCs) can use IEC logos on their websites and materials to show their connection with the IEC. This strengthens the brand and makes it easier to explain the relationship with the IEC. It also facilitates entering into relationships with key national stakeholders, who will get involved in international IEC work.

Monitoring Standards through adoptions database

A key role of the IEC is to ensure its International Standards are widely adopted. Our NCs are statutorily obliged to implement IEC publications in a transparent way. In order to monitor this, the IEC Council Board proposes NCs declare national adoptions together with national differences in the IEC adoptions database, which will be modernized. Additionally, technical committees could include some of these differences in later editions of Standards, making them more broadly relevant. Industry also stands to benefit. Manufacturers wanting to sell electric and electronic products widely and if possible without modifications, could plan ahead and use this information at the design stage.

The next Masterplan

The IEC President described the Masterplan he launched in January 2016, as “the most extensive and comprehensive consultation process the IEC has ever engaged in”. During 2016, IEC met with 19 NCs and 80-plus companies and organizations and invited all NC Presidents to share their core priorities for the future Masterplan. Input was gathered at key meetings – Council Board (CB), Market Strategy Board (MSB) – and during the IEC General Meeting (GM) in Frankfurt – Conformity Assessment Board (CAB), Standardization Management Board (SMB), NC Presidents and NC Secretaries. The CB report to Council contains four proposed core themes to be approved at the Vladivostok GM next year.

The new Masterplan will zoom in on core goals to ultimately help determine activities, structures and processes to be established, to ensure our long-term relevance.

Enhancing ways to be seen

One Masterplan objective is to engage more broadly with industry and new audiences to improve our visibility and raise our market profile.

Over the past year we have collected direct market feedback by organizing strategic CEO roundtables, industry dialogues and visits to many of our NCs.

We have also participated in important industry meetings, including for energy generation/distribution, medical devices and we continue to collaborate with many international organizations, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Council, and the Global Standards Collaboration.

IEC Ambassadors actively promote IEC

IEC International Standards and CA Systems services are important to society. They improve safety and efficiency in terms of making cities smarter, enhancing the resilience of infrastructure during disasters and growing electricity access for those who go without. They enable more energy efficient technologies and improve digital security. They also directly impact 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Increasingly, non-technical audiences discuss and influence standardization work on societal issues. Given the highly technical nature of our Standards and the very broad scope, the IEC Executive Committee (ExCo) has appointed four Ambassadors to explain IEC work and its impact on societal challenges or technologies to stakeholders in industry, government or academia.

Making it easier to find our work

We are also taking measures to make it easier for non-specialist audiences to find our work.

For example, some European manufacturing standards are actually IEC International Standards. Thus, we are requesting that all adoptions (regional and national) of our Standards be correctly referenced according to ISO/IEC Guide 21. (EN IEC 60704-2-1 not EN 60704-2-1).

If our work, for example, on Smart Cities, cybersecurity or energy efficiency can’t be found, it will not be recognized, nor will we be included in key discussions. We are enhancing our standards library with key words for searches and improving titles and abstracts to make the link between technology and larger topics.

Our new Systems Evaluation Groups are addressing clear industry and societal needs, such as Smart Cities. In July, we organized the first World Smart City Forum, together with ISO and ITU, to explore pain points in energy, mobility, water and cybersecurity, which hinder Smart City development. It was an opportunity to encourage closer collaboration in standardization, to avoid duplication and improve efficiency. Participants included major standards organizations (ISO, ITU, IEEE, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) and observers from national standards organizations.

The IEC Market Strategy Board identifies principal technological trends and market needs in our fields of activity and publishes recommendations in the form of White Papers. In 2016, it prepared two new ones: IoT 2020: Smart and secure IoT platform and Global Energy Interconnection, which are distributed at events, to academia and other organizations.

Supporting our NCs

We ran training courses at our Central Geneva office and on almost all continents for around 600 experts in 2016. E-learning tools, brochures, articles and communications materials as well as free IT tools are also available to NCs.

Conformity Assessment Systems grow

Following the approval of the new Conformity Assessment (CA) governance structure, the CAB Special Task Force submitted recommendations for the fast introduction of new CA services when market needs are identified.

CAB and SMB have established two joint ad hoc Groups, one to make recommendations to IEC standards developers on feedback received from the CA Systems; and the second to develop a guidance document on CA in Standards.

IECRE, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications, has 15 Members in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, with all three sectors in place (wind, solar PV and marine). IECRE participated in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Innovation Week in May and presented its System, highlighting its benefits to the RE sector.

IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres, and IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, are all financially sound and developing rapidly, offering new services and gaining visibility and recognition worldwide.

The IECEE Global Motor Energy Efficiency programme (GMEE) is now well established, with task forces to cover functional safety and cybersecurity.

IECEx celebrated 20 years in 2016 and issued the first certificates for non-electrical equipment used in explosive atmospheres.

The IECQ Scheme for LED Lighting, launched in 2015, met with immediate success and presented its first certificate.

Regional Centres

Equally our regional centres continue to promote and raise awareness of IEC. The Directors of the IEC Regional Centre for Africa (IEC-AFRC), established in 2015, visited over 20 countries and made first contact with a large number of regional organizations this year. The Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (IEC-APRC) and the Latin America Regional Centre (IEC-LARC) also paid visits to IEC Member and Affiliates in their respective regions and participated in a number of conferences, seminars and workshops to promote IEC activities. Both IEC-APRC and the Regional Centre for North America (IEC-ReCNA) provided support to IEC technical committees and held TC meetings and TC officer training in their premises. 

Affiliate Country Programme

The Affiliate Country Programme is thriving and now counts 85 countries, with Uzbekistan and Syria joining since Minsk. Its Conformity Assessment Status e-learning modules are available for IECEE, IECEx, IECRE and IECQ will follow in 2017.

In September, the Affiliate Country Programme signed and important MoU with PTB, the national metrology institute of Germany, to establish a framework for technical cooperation in standardization and quality infrastructure, and for the promotion of related international best practice. The PTB provides practical aid to developing countries, and organized this year’s workshop for industrializing countries with the IEC.

Cooperation agreements

Two Memorandums of Understanding were signed on 9 October 2016 in Frankfurt, between the IEC and GSO, the Standardization Organization for the Gulf Cooperation Council, and between the IEC and SARSO, the South Asian Regional Standards Organization. The overall objective of these agreements is to promote IEC standardization and conformity assessment work and activities in the Arab States of the Gulf and in South Asia.

New perspectives through the Young Professionals programme

The Young Professionals (YP) programme attracts and motivates young experts and future leaders to participate in IEC work on a long-term basis. The 400 plus participants from 49 countries help IEC address issues now and how standards should be written in the future. Their insights were also sought for the Masterplan.

Frans Vreeswijk speaking during IEC Council meeting in Frankfurt 2016 Frans Vreeswijk addressing IEC Council in Frankfurt, Germany
Frans Vreeswijk gave an update on new IEC Masterplan In his address, Vreeswijk updated Council members on the next IEC Masterplan
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore Vreeswijk reminded the audience that the IEC, together with ISO and ITU, organized the first World Smart City Forum in July 2016