A systematic approach

IEC Conformity Assessment Board

By Gabriela Ehrilch

IEC Vice-President and Chairman of CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) Hiromichi Fujisawa presented his report to the IEC Council.

Fujisawa first outlined some of the responsibilities of CAB in the context of the IEC and cooperation with ISO CASCO before talking about highlights of CAB activities over the past 12 months.

CAB will be focusing on Wind Turbine Conformity Assessment in the next few years CAB will be focusing on Wind Turbine Conformity Assessment in the next few years

CAB WT CAC, Wind turbine certification advisory committee

Wind Turbine CA (Conformity Assessment) is an area that CAB will focus on in the next several years. With support from TC 88: Wind Turbines, CAB recently formed the WT CAC (Wind Turbine Certification Advisory Committee). A first meeting was held in May this year in Anaheim, USA, followed by a second meeting in September in Hamburg, Germany.  The interest is strong:  48 individuals from 41 different organizations representing 13 countries and a wide range of stakeholders participated.

Preparations and discussions on the future shape of IEC CA for wind turbines are advancing rapidly. The composition, the officers and some aspects of the working methods of this CAB working group are decided. And while it will cooperate with TC 88, it is not a joint working group.  Next on the agenda are the revision and clarification of terms of reference and the preparation of the work programme and working methods. To keep the momentum going, the next meeting is set to take place in February in Beijing.

Marine Energy CA

Marine Energy CA is another area CAB needs to focus on and for this purpose it has formed WG (Working Group) 15: Marine Energy CA in June this year with significant support from TC 114: Marine Energy.  The first meeting was held in November in Frankfurt, Germany.

Conformity Assessment activities for Electrical Energy Efficiency (E3)

CAB WG 12 for Electrical Energy Efficiency has been active for five years studying energy efficiency related policies and regulations in major countries around the globe. As part of its activity, it recently sent out a questionnaire to developing countries with the help of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme. The result was overwhelming: over fifty countries responded.

Energy efficiency is clearly a hot topic in many countries and relevant policies and regulations have already been put in place at the national level in many of them. Despite that there is a strong interest in harmonized programmes. One idea that is currently being discussed is the so-called “Universal labelling for E3”.

System-level Conformity Assessment (SLCA)

Following up on the work of its ad hoc group put in place at the last meeting in response to the
 MSB’s systems-approach recommendations, the CAB created WG 16: Systems approach in
 CA, and will call for members and appoint a Convenor by correspondence.

In this context, a top priority is to clarify in close cooperation with the SMB the meaning of
 “Systems approach” and the terms used, across standards, CA and real-world systems. The
 topic is complex and requires the preparation of an international framework, many aspects need
 to be included and looked at. Multiple technical committees need to cooperate sometimes with
 specialists from other standard development bodies to satisfy industry needs.

Taking the example of an off-shore wind-farm:  SLCA would need to include project certification, comprising geographic implantation (location, presence and strength of winds, distance to shore and the ability to connect to the grid) civil engineering and construction, technical and design verification, type tests, and much more. Investors need to be able to rely that their investment is sound in all areas. This involves the cooperation of many specialists. The difficulty lies in integrating top down and bottom up specialists who don’t necessarily use the same language, e.g. an IT specialist who uses code and needs to understand the needs of an electrical engineer. It also means looking how new things can integrate with existing elements, now and in the future. While much is still missing, partial solutions are ready. Undoubtedly, a lot of work will need to be accomplished because this is where the future lies.

Conformity Assessment of the Smart Grid

In the future, Smart Grid will be another area where system-level conformity assessment will become crucially important to demonstrate performance levels and attract and comfort investors.

State of IEC Conformity Assessment Systems

The Systems’ financial results for 2010 were approved by the CAB.  All Systems showed excellent financial health and are developing well in all respects.


IECQ (IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components), was established in 1981 and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The system’s major schemes, HSPM (Hazardous Substance Process Management) and ECMP (Electronic Component Management Plan) are growing in a steady manner. ECMP has been successfully applied to the avionics industry. Boeing and Airbus have applied this scheme. Now its application to other systems is being investigated. IECQ is successfully cooperating with accreditation bodies, under the IEC/ILAC/IAF MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) that was signed at the end of 2010.


IECEE (the IEC System of Conformity Testing and Certification for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) is also growing. The System increased the number of issued certificates by 20 % to 72 000. One of the recent improvements of the system is a simplification of CB-FCS (Full Certification Scheme) which makes it easier for members to operate. Because of this, the number of multilateral agreement signatories tripled and has reached 31. The photovoltaic Quality Seal and Quality Mark is also benefiting from this improvement.

 The CAB approved an expansion of the IECEE scope to include energy performance and energy consumption. In this context, IECEE will create an energy efficiency programme, which will offer statements of test results in energy performance and energy consumption.  It is thought that this new testing service will help harmonize global energy efficiency programmes. The IECEE system is also investing in the training of factory inspectors and peer assessors. Currently there are more than 700 trained professionals working in this field in the IECEE.


IECEx (the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres) has achieved a considerable surplus in 2010 and has issued over 17 000 certificates. The IECEx CoPC (Certificate of Personnel Competence), a new scheme that helps assess and certify individuals working in potentially hazardous areas, is of interest and presents opportunities for the whole of the IEC.

Cooperation with the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) has resulted in the UNECE publication of a regulatory framework for Ex areas, which essentially recognises IECEx as the world best practice model for the verification of conformity to International Standards in explosive areas.

CAB Secretary Gabriel Barta (left) and CAB Chairman Hiromichi Fujisawa CAB Secretary Gabriel Barta (left) and CAB Chairman Hiromichi Fujisawa
CAB will be focusing on Wind Turbine Conformity Assessment in the next few years CAB will be focusing on Wind Turbine Conformity Assessment in the next few years
WG 15: Marine Energy Conformity Assessment was set up in June this year WG 15: Marine Energy Conformity Assessment was set up in June this year