CANENA 2013: A global outlook

Cooperation at all levels is key for standards development organizations

By Claire Marchand

CANENA, the Council for Harmonization of Electrotechnical Standards of the Nations of the Americas, held its annual meeting on 27-28 February 2013 in Montreal, Canad

CANENA held its annual meting in Montreal, Canada

A forum for harmonization discussions

CANENA focuses on electrotechnical standards harmonization activities within the Americas, providing a forum for discussions among its various organizations, manufacturers, conformity assessment bodies and individual participants that make up its membership.

Focus on Canada

The theme of this year’s meeting was “Putting Regional Standardization in a Global Context” with focus on Canada. Michel Girard, Vice President Policy and Stakeholder Affairs, SCC (Standards Council of Canada), delivered the keynote address. Girard began by stressing SCC’s commitment to promote standardization as a means of achieving numerous public policy objectives in Canada. The gist of his intervention revolved around the intended approach to further institutionalize cooperation between Canada’s trading partners; to establish harmonized standards in areas of nascent technology; and to expand efforts in established sectors.

The first day of the CANENA annual meeting was taken up by the Members Forum, where experts discussed issues pertaining to CANENA membership and heard presentations on “Latin America converging to a single electrical code”, “Electric vehicle supply equipment” and “Equipment for class and division classified hazardous locations”.

Harmonizing standards at regional and international level

The afternoon was devoted to a roundtable on “Contributors and inhibitors to standards harmonization”, featuring presentations by industry and SDO (Standards Development Organization) representatives from Canada, Mexico and USA, followed by an open discussion involving all delegates.

Presentations and discussions during the meeting highlighted the fact that IEC International Standards are playing an increasing role in the organization’s harmonization efforts and the need for CANENA to interface on a regular basis with IEC NCs (National Committees in member countries.

Technologies of the future

During CANENA Council Day, IEC Vice-President and SMB (Standardization Management Board) Chairman James E. Matthews III provided an update on IEC activities and priorities, and offered insights into the role of the MSB (Market Strategy Board) in identifying and setting strategies for IEC involvement in future technologies.

Matthews began by underlining the global reach of the IEC through its standardization and conformity assessment work and the importance of the Masterplan, which outlines the Commission’s objectives for the coming years.

Matthews explained that the IEC today is an extremely efficient organization providing those who participate in its work with a fully transparent and tightly managed A to Z process that benefits industry and increasingly other stakeholders. He went on to say that there is also a strong need to anticipate what will be required tomorrow. This is where the MSB plays a major role.

Market watch and White Papers

The MSB, comprising a group of CTO-level members from industry worldwide, is tasked with keeping a close watch on technologies and trends as well as setting strategies that will enable the IEC to respond in a timely manner.

The MSB, in cooperation with renowned international research institutes, also publishes White Papers focusing on specific technologies. So far three have been issued, all well received by regulators, industries and governments and another one is expected to be issued in 2013, dealing with Microgrids for Disaster Recovery.

The three White Papers already published are:

Looking ahead

Matthews then presented the new areas of work the IEC has engaged in recently, introducing the new IEC TCs (Technical Committees) and SGs (Strategic Groups), and spending time in particular on SG 6: Electrotechnology for Mobility. The SG is responsible for investigating interactions between the EV (electric vehicle) and the electricity supply infrastructure. The group also defines collaboration between IEC, which has a number of TCs involved in EV work, and other standardization organizations both at the international and regional level.

Systems approach is key area of action

Matthews also broached another area of action identified in the IEC Masterplan, i.e. the systems and sectorial approach for standardization and conformity assessment activities. He explained that increasingly complex systems and converging technologies called for this new approach. Systems standards require an overarching understanding of the top-level structure of the system as well as its many individual elements. This approach entails coordinated and early participation and cooperation of many experts from the different technical areas. He added that the IEC has put in place processes and structures to enable the development of these types of standards.

Global collaboration and participation

In the last part of his presentation, Matthews gave an update on the activities of the three IEC Conformity Assessment Systems, the Affiliate Country Programme and the Young Professionals programme. He also stressed the need for increased global collaboration with standardization organization, intergovernmental and international agencies, regulators and policy makers.

In his conclusion, Matthews reiterated the major role played by IEC International Standards in global trade and the importance for industry to participate in standards development at the international level: “When your company doesn’t sit at the table where the rules for global trade are written, then the competition will write the rules you will have to work with in the future.”

canena-logo CANENA held its annual meting in Montreal, Canada
jim_matthews IEC Vice-President and SMB Chairman Jim Matthews represented the IEC
white-papers The MSB, in cooperation with renowned international research institutes, has published White Papers, all well received by industry and other stakeholders