A quiet force

Tribute to Hiromichi Fujisawa, IEC Vice-President and CAB Chairman

By Gabriela Ehrlich

Hiromichi Fujisawa, IEC Vice President and Chairman of CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) will step down at the end of 2014. Under his competent and thoughtful leadership IEC CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems have become stronger expanding their portfolio to better serve industry. A new CA System, IECRE, saw the light of day and will serve the needs of the renewable energy industry, in particular wind, marine and solar PV, and a new governance structure will provide a strong basis for the future. Fujisawa has left his mark on the IEC and the IEC CA Systems in many positive ways. 

Hiromich Fujisawa and Ron Colins IEC Vice-President and CAB Chairman Hiromichi Fujisawa will step down at the end of 2014

First contact with the IEC

Fujisawa began his involvement with the IEC in 2004 as a member of IEC PACT (President Advisory Committee for future Technologies), the precursor of the MSB (Market Strategy Board). Fujisawa, who had been tasked in 2003 with founding and leading a management group within Hitachi to oversee the company’s standardization involvement, was nominated by IEC-APC (IEC Activity Promotion Committee of Japan) to be a member of PACT. IEC-APC comprises around 40 major companies and another 40 organisations in Japan. It works in close collaboration with METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and helps promote IEC work in Japan.

Standards were always important

Fujisawa admits that he was quite unaware of the IEC before 2003. While experts in Hitachi business units that cover power generation or utilities were actively involved in IEC work, his division, which focused on research in areas such as magnetic and optical recordings and information and communication technology was somewhat outside of the IEC scope of activities. While standardization was very important for his division it was generally supported by industry consortia or fora or other SDOs (standards developing organizations).

Major influence by a Japanese IEC President

It seems that the big stimulus and a change of attitude towards International Standards within Japanese industry came in the mid-1990s when WTO (World Trade Organization) was established. Another factor which strongly increased awareness of International Standards in Japan was due to the election of Dr Sei-ichi Takayanagi as IEC President (2002 to 2004). Takayanagi gave many lectures and workshops on International Standards in Japan. Fujisawa met him when he was a member of PACT and Takayanagi helped him increase his understanding and interest in the IEC.

Moving to conformity assessment

The move from standardization to conformity assessment came in 2007, when Fujisawa became the Japanese member of CAB. His interest in conformity assessment stemmed from a longstanding activity in Hitachi whereby products that are returned by customers are studied in-depth to analyse root-causes. Testing was always an integral part of this process and Fujisawa was one of the internal advisors for such a committee.  

Fulfilling the needs of the (renewable) industry

When asked about his proudest achievements as CAB Chairman and IEC Vice President, Fujisawa underlined that he was particularly happy to see the founding of IECRE Renewable Energy CA System which held its first meeting in September 2014 in Boulder, Colorado, USA under his Chairmanship. The way towards a CA System for Renewable Energy was arduous and long. Initially the wind industry was quite small and in early 2000 CAB had taken the decision not to pursue the establishment of a CA System due to cost and overhead considerations. Over the next years several attempts to come up with a standardized way for testing and certification for wind turbines finally led to the publication of an International Standard (with special permission by the SMB). 

Then, in 2009, at the same time as Fujisawa became CAB Chairman, Sandy Butterfield took over the Chairmanship of IEC TC (Technical Committee) 88: Wind turbines. Together, and in close cooperation with Chris Agius, Executive Secretary of IECEx (IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres) and later Kerry McManama, Executive Secretary of IECEE (IEC System for Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components), the way to the new IECRE System was paved.

Change is an opportunity

During the six years of his IEC Vice Presidency change has been more common than continuity: Fujisawa had three CAB Secretaries and two IEC CEOs. In Fujisawa’s words: “Change is a good chance to move into a new era and do new things.” 

While very different in their approach, Fujisawa feels that at each point in time the right man for the job was at the helm of the ship. “Going forward the IEC needs an open-minded leadership that accepts new opportunities coming from globalization and new technologies.  Industry still expects more from the IEC. Over the years demands from stakeholders have changed and, with it, the circumstances under which the IEC operates and adds value.”

Adding the voice of the user

Assuming that the number of seats in CAB will go up to 15…Fujisawa hopes for more involvement from developing countries. “CA has been seen from the manufacturers’ and CA providers’ point of view for products and systems. It is now time for the very end-users to have a voice in IEC CA as well.  This voice will need to be represented through regional organizations such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission), EEC (Eurasian Economic Commission), etc.”  Another stakeholder group that needs to be more strongly included are industry and other associations.

Expanding the scope

There are a lot of opportunities for the IEC to go a bit further. Often elements that are adjacent to electrotechnology influence the efficient and safe functioning of the whole system. That’s why IECEx for example has expanded the scope of its work. This is also true in hazardous substances process management, for example for toys, which should be applied beyond the electrical parts. Fujisawa is confident that the IEC can and should contribute to such a broader holistic approach. 

Sharing expertise

But while Fujisawa is stepping down from his function within the IEC, he will continue to support international standardization within Hitachi and beyond; possibly also by sharing his expertise and know-how with students at his University. Time will tell.

Calmly achieving more than anyone before

From his experience in conducting a chorus, Fujisawa always compared the role of Chairman to that of a chorus conductor which is to listen to the voices to get the most harmonious end result. It seems that those who worked closely with Fujisawa appreciated this unique quality in him.  In a book that was given to Fujisawa at the IEC General Meeting in Tokyo, Chris Agius reflected on some of the achievements of CAB under Fujisawa’s presidency as follows: ”Having been involved in IEC CA since long before the establishment of CAB, I must say I find the advance in IEC CA services over the past six years to be perhaps the most significant in the history of CAB[…]it has been your open approach to listen to ideas, the time taken to learn and understand the issues and the patience to work through the concerns of all parties that has been paramount in harnessing opportunities as they arise”.

Hiromich Fujisawa and Ron Colins Hiromichi Fujisawa with IECEE Chairman Ron Collis...
Hiromich Fujisawa and Chris Agius ...with IECEx and IECQ Executive Secretary Chris Agius...
Hiromich Fujisawa chaired his last CAB meeting in Tokyo, Japan ...and with IECEE and IECRE Executive Secretary Kerry McManama