Pooling resources

IEC-OIML agreement helps reduce costs, time and complexity

By Claire Marchand

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”. Lord Kelvin, First IEC President.

What Lord Kelvin said more than a hundred years ago is still true. The technology of the 21st century may be a far cry from that of Lord Kelvin’s era, but metrology is still a key element of standardization and conformity assessment, essential to the work of the IEC and the OIML, the International Organization of Legal Metrology.

Controller for temperature measurement and control applications (Photo: Siemens)


To optimize efficiency and streamline their resources, the two organizations have reached a historic agreement and signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) that will allow for close cooperation in all areas of mutual interest. This will help significantly to reduce costs, time and complexity for testing laboratories that are using the GUM (Guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement).

The MoU was signed by IECEE Executive Secretary Pierre de Ruvo, on behalf of the IEC General Secretary and CEO Ronnie Amit and by CIML President Peter Mason at a special ceremony that took place in Prague on 13 October 2011 during the CIML (International Committee) meeting. As the steering committee for OIML, the CIML meets annually to review the organization's technical progress and administrative operations.

Close technical cooperation

Through this cooperation agreement, IEC and OIML will maintain mutual liaisons and collaboration through several channels:

  • the International Bureau of Legal Metrology and the Central Secretariat of the International Electrotechnical Commission
  • the Secretariats of OIML Technical Committees and Subcommittees and IEC Technical Committees and Subcommittees
  • the relevant conformity assessment systems of both Organizations

The OIML and the IEC have also agreed to consult each other on any technical issues of joint interest and provide each other with any information or documentation concerning matters of mutual interest, in particular legal metrology related to standardization and conformity assessment.

Past efforts pay off

This type of cooperation agreement is unprecedented in the conformity assessment world and builds on years of collaboration between the IECEE Systems and OIML. IECEE Executive Secretary Pierre de Ruvo was instrumental in establishing a true partnership with his counterpart at OIML, Assistant Director Willem Kool. Their joint efforts to bring the agreement to fruition have paid off and cooperation is now a reality.

Talking the same language

Another objective set out by the MoU is to facilitate a coordinated application of ISO/IEC standards and guidance documents for the purpose of assessment of testing laboratories operating in the IECEE System. This includes a common understanding of the technical issues related to the evaluation of measurement data, e.g. the role of measurement uncertainty in conformity assessment.

Provisions are also made for joint training and workshops for lead assessors, and when possible, joint work on the development of harmonized procedures and policies.

IMG_7675_small IECEE Executive Secretary Pierre de Ruvo (left) and CIML President Peter Mason sign the cooperation agreement between IEC and OIML
3D_measurement 3D offers extremely precise measurement of large objects, components and assemblies of machines. (Photo: PMIGuys, LLC)
IIA2010032221-01_300dpi Controller for temperature measurement and control applications (Photo: Siemens)