The importance of testing against International Standards

Everyone benefits from using efficient, safe products and services

By Antoinette Price

Today, many devices and services found in homes, hospitals, the workplace and industry run off electricity. Such machines and equipment can be dangerous if they malfunction,  causing explosions, fires or electrocuting users or anyone who comes into contact with them, in addition to damaging property.

Kitchens increasingly have more smart devices Smart controllers operate connected kitchen appliances (Photo: www.nordicsemi.com)

IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, tests and certifies electrical and electronic equipment. Its Certification Body (CB) Scheme provides the assurance that tested and certified electrical equipment – and its components – meets the strictest levels of safety and performance in compliance with the relevant IEC International Standards.

IECEE CB test certificates issued are expected to exceed 100 000 in 2017, with a total of 96 954 in 2016. The System currently has 53 participating countries, 78 national certification bodies, 504 testing laboratories and over 2 200 client testing facilities.

Harmonizing collaboration between IEC and ITU

IEC and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are working together to provide solutions related to conformity assessment for testing laboratories associated with ITU recommendations.

To achieve this, the IECEE Certification Management Committee (CMC) established a joint IEC/ITU Task Force, mandated to see which IECEE operational and other documents and rules will need to be modified, and to determine the required qualifications in laboratories and staff, in order to incorporate the ITU Recommendations within the scope of IECEE.

Listening to industry

Industry has expressed a need to define market relevant solutions and services related to functional safety in the IECEE CB Scheme. In response, IECEE has set up a task force to identify suitable product groups to start such services. This includes determining the necessary qualification for personnel performing such services, in terms of educational background, training and experience, defining meaningful working procedures for conformity assessment, and applying a system approach.

Stepping up cyber security

Cyber security is an important element of IECEE work. Many devices, machines and systems are connected and thus part of the internet of things (IoT). They gather, store and exchange confidential information and must do so securely.

Addressing a growing industry need, IECEE Industrial Cyber Security Programme was created to test and certify cyber security in the industrial automation sector. The service provides a framework for assessments in accordance with the IEC 62443 series of International Standards on security for industrial automation and control systems, to result in an IECEE Certificate of Conformity - Industrial Cyber Security Capability.

As manufacturing becomes increasingly smart, more human-machine interfaces are used and artificial intelligence expands along with the use of robotics. Greater risk mitigation is needed in the development, testing, and certification of these types of equipment or equipment/products/systems using such technologies. Equally, there is the need for competent personnel to conduct the evaluations of the functional safety of industrial installations and equipment.

The IECEE Task Force for the Certification of Personal Competency (CoPC) has been established to include the areas of cyber security and functional safety, among others. It will be based on the successful IECEx CoPC.

From medical wearables to dishwashers

Over the past year, e-tech has reported on various industries which use IECEE testing and certification for their products and systems.

The wireless technology revolutionizing healthcare

The medical wearable and medical devices industries are booming. This is largely due to increased awareness of personal fitness and self-monitoring, and to an aging population with greater healthcare and home help needs. According to technology research company ReportLinker, global connected medical device technologies will reach USD 8,3 billion by 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10,8% from 2016 through 2021.

IECEE makes sure that electrical and electronic devices and equipment are reliable and meet expectations of performance, safety and other criteria. The CB Scheme applies to the medical electrical equipment and also covers risks to patients, equipment operators and maintenance personnel. Its tests follow many IEC International Standards, including the IEC 60601 series of Standards on the safety and performance of medical electrical equipment.

Smart homes full of gadgets

Our homes are full of electrical appliances and systems, which help us clean, cook, provide heating, cooling, lighting and entertainment, maintain the garden, do our hobbies and stay secure. As homes get smarter, a growing number of electronic controls operate these items.

We need more energy to run our homes and recharge portable devices, such as tablets and smartphones, even though their energy efficiency is always improving.

In addition to testing and certifying all these appliances and their controls for reliability and safety, IECEE operates the Electrical Energy Efficiency (E3) programme, which supports industry efforts to develop energy-efficient products.

Energy efficiency, meaning the energy performance, consumption and level of noise emission of electrical equipment, is tested in compliance with IEC International Standards, for example, IEC 62301 for measuring standby power of household appliances, including computers and washing machines.

Gallery
Smart manufacturing Smart manufacturing uses cloud technology to store unlimited amounts of data (Photo: www.cmtc.com)
Cyber security Industry and business must always ensure cyber security (Photo: www.itsecurityguru.org)
Kitchens increasingly have more smart devices Smart controllers operate connected kitchen appliances (Photo: www.nordicsemi.com)