Smarter, safer, greener appliances

IECQ: the best tool for electronic component certification

By Claire Marchand

Your 15-year-old washing machine just broke down and you need to buy a new one? You’re in for a big surprise…the simple washing machine that you switch on by turning the operating dial and pressing the start button is gone. The new machines all use advanced technologies, taking modern lifestyles and environmental issues into consideration.

GE washing machine Tomorrow's washing machine: Saving power, powder and water (Photo: GE)

Advanced technologies

Today’s washing machines are quieter, more energy efficient and smarter. They communicate with your smart phone, are connected to the Internet, meaning they can be controlled from afar. Load sensing technology measures the exact dosage of detergent to be used for one specific load and optimizes laundry time, water and energy consumption – they can be instructed to run at off-peak times for cheaper rates. They propose a multiplicity of programmes, including “hand wash” and crease care, to accommodate even the most delicate garments.

The same can be said of many if not all appliances today: ovens that download recipes, fridges that monitor their stock and create shopping list while streaming music from the Internet. They are smarter, safer, greener devices that make your life much easier.

Electronics inside

Sensors, connectors, resistors, capacitors, semiconductors, diodes, LEDs are just some of the numerous components that are widely used in modern appliances. For those to work smoothly, they have to have high-quality electronics inside. One faulty component can have disastrous causes.

IECQ: a powerful tool

Electronic component manufacturers and suppliers have a very powerful tool at their disposal to make sure their products are safe and reliable, meeting the strictest requirements: IECQ testing and certification.

As a worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ tests and certifies components using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards.

The wide range of electronic components covered by IECQ is used in all kinds of technologies, from the smallest device to the very complex equipment. At present there are eight families of components certified by IECQ:

  • active components, including integrated circuits
  • electromagnetic components
  • electromechanical components
  • electro-optic components
  • hybrid integrated circuits
  • passive components
  • printed boards
  • wires and cables

Green components

Concern for the environment and the need to eliminate hazardous waste prompted IECQ to devise a new scheme to help electronic component suppliers prove that their products comply with requirements to be free of hazardous substances.

Since the launch of the programme in 2005, the IECQ HSPM (Hazardous Substances Process Management) has grown tremendously. Many countries have passed legislation restricting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products. The European Union RoHS (Restrictions of Hazardous Substances) in electrical and electronic equipment and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directives took effect in July 2006 and are currently being revised.

Through IECQ HSPM certification, electronic component manufacturers and suppliers can demonstrate that their electrical and electronic components and assemblies meet hazardous substance-free specific local, national and international requirements.

In the same way, manufacturers of household appliances who use electronic components that bear the IECQ HSPM certification can advertise their products as free of all hazardous materials.

Competitive edge

All IECQ certificates are recognized in all IECQ member countries and beyond, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market and eliminating the need for multiple testing.

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GE washing machine Tomorrow's washing machine: Saving power, powder and water (Photo: GE)