Extremely reliable and incredibly safe

Safe sensors for safe devices through IEC Certification

By Claire Marchand

We don’t see them, most of us don’t even know what they look like, but we are all dependent on them. They make life easier and safer. Modern technologies couldn’t do without them. In short, sensors are indispensable.

Sonar proximity Switch (Photo: Siemens Industry Automation division) Sonar proximity Switch (Photo: Siemens Industry Automation division)

Sensors are used to measure data, which they convert  into signals that are communicated to a system. Most sensors are used to measure light, temperature, touch, sound, position and magnetism. Others are used to measure speed pressure or flow or are capable of recognizing images.

Making the world safer

Sensors 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 sensors, such as MEMS (micro electromechanical systems). 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, putting human lives in jeopardy.

As with any other electronic component, a sensor has to go through a battery of tests before it hits the market, to ensure that it complies with specific requirements.

IECQ: Safety inside

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.

About IECQ

As a worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ provides a certification system that enables manufacturers and suppliers to provide independent verification that the claimed specifications (including International IEC standards) are met. This gives end manufacturers the reassurance of knowing that suppliers holding IECQ certification do not need stringent second party assessment or monitoring.

The plethora of electronic components and processes covered by IECQ are used in all kinds of technologies, from the smallest device to the most complex piece of equipment. At present, eight families of components are certified by IECQ:

  • active components, including integrated circuits
  • electromagnetic components
  • electromechanical components
  • electro-optic components
  • hybrid integrated circuits
  • passive components
  • printed boards
  • wires and cables

IECQ’s contribution to a safer and more reliable world can only increase with the development of new technologies and state-of-the-art electronic devices.

Sonar proximity Switch (Photo: Siemens Industry Automation division) Sonar proximity Switch (Photo: Siemens Industry Automation division)
Infradred temperature sensor (Photo: Micro Epsilon) Infradred temperature sensor (Photo: Micro Epsilon)
LED light and infrared light sensors LED light and infrared light sensors