Systems approach

SMB report to Council

By Claire Marchand

Report to IEC Council by James Matthews III, IEC Vice-President and SMB (Standardization Management Board) Chairman.

Jim Matthews, IEC Vice-President and SMB Chairman (left), and Jack Sheldon, SMB Secretary

On behalf of IEC Vice-President and SMB (Standardization Management Board) Chairman Jim Matthews, IEC General-Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk made the presentation to Council and reported on key SMB work over the last year, which has aimed to simplify processes, strengthen technical work, increase overall efficiency and enable broader cooperation.


The IEC has a very broad and sound technical programme. Over the last months it has produced 451 new or revised standards. The number of TCs (Technical Committees) and SCs (Subcommittees) is stable at 174, comprising close to 12 500 active experts from all around the world. A large majority of these experts come from industry.

New Technical Committee

The proportion of RE (Renewable Energy) is likely to increase in all major electricity markets., However, large-scale incorporation of RE into existing electricity grids remains complex. To accelerate the integration of RE and to enable a more reliable and efficient supply of electrical energy, the IEC created a new TC on EES (Electrical Energy Storage) Systems. The decision to set up IEC TC 120 and to assign its secretariat to Japan was ratified by the SMB at the Oslo meeting.


In its endeavour to streamline IEC standardization work, it made the decision to disband three TCs with low activity or participation and reassign their work to other TCs. The three disbanded TCs were:

  •  TC 16: Basic and safety principles for man-machine interface, marking and identification, work reassigned to TC 3: Information structures, documentation and graphical symbols
  •  TC 39: Electronic tubes, work reassigned to TC 110: Electronic display devices
  •  TC 93: Design automation, work reassigned to TC 91: Electronics assembly technology

Systems approach

SMB approved the proposals made by ahG (ad hoc Group) 35 relating to the organization of work on systems in IEC. This includes the concepts of Systems Advisory Groups, Systems Technical Committees and a Systems Resource Group.

The recommendations made by ahG 35 include a process with two stages of systems activity and an additional group to serve as a resource for all groups undertaking this systems activity.

Two-stage process outlined

In the first stage, an SSG (Systems Strategic Group), which would be very similar to the current Strategic Groups created and managed by the SMB, would be open to experts from all stakeholders, and would be expected to write non consensus documents, such as White Papers or Road Maps. They would be able to pass recommendations to TCs or, in a second stage, be transformed into an STC (Systems Technical Committee).

In this second stage, more focused technical work and deliverables are anticipated, including international standards, reference architectures, use cases, and other projects. The STC would function similarly to an existing TC, but there would be additional obligations imposed on the participation of liaisons and interaction with TCs.

Creation of an SRG (Systems Resource Group) is also proposed to provide for the development of tools and processes as well as sharing of best practices among all the groups undertaking Systems level work.

The SMB agreed that ahG 35 should continue to follow through the implementation and details of the recommendations. Making the systems approach a reality will require dedication of resources to this activity by IEC.

The way ahead

In conclusion, and in line with the implementation of the IEC Masterplan, the key word is openness. To make the IEC standardization work, the IEC technical work needs to be more collaborative and more open to new ways of doing things, new technologies and new ideas.

DSC_4098 Jim Matthews, IEC Vice-President and SMB Chairman (left), and Jack Sheldon, SMB Secretary
iStock_000004167820Large IEC TC 120 was created to accelerate the integration of large-scale renewable energies into the grid
Complementary SMB approved the proposals made by ahG (ad hoc Group) 35 relating to the organization of work on systems in IEC