The influence of weather and geography

How topology, climate and country size influence standardization

By Gabriela Ehrlich

The Open Session of the 81st IEC General Meeting in Vladivostok focused on the geographical and climatic features that influence the requirements and reliability of electrical and electronic devices as well as on the technologies used in the transportation of people and goods within the Russian Federation.

frozen antenna Electrical equipment in Polar regions has to withstand extreme temperatures

The Open Session was moderated by Anton Shalaev, Deputy Head of Rosstandart, and was divided into three topics:

Open Session moderator Anton Shalaev

1. Geographical features that influence the requirements and reliability of electrical and electronic devices. This topic was presented by two speakers: Dr Nikita Kuprikov and Dr Roman Levin, supported by Anna Sherstyuk 

2. Distance as a driver for standardization in transport infrastructure. This topic was presented by Prof Bernard Lerouge, Secretary of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 9: Electrical equipment and systems for railways 

3. How mathematical modelling and standardization drive smart manufacturing. Two speakers covered this topic: Nikita Utkin and Prof Oleg Melnik

A Q&A session followed each topic, moderated by Shalaev.

Cold climes: special needs

Nikita Kuprikov

The first speaker, Dr Nikita Kuprikov, has a PhD in aeronautical design for aviation in the Arctic region. He is Director of Science of The Polar Initiative, which studies Arctic and Antarctic conditions including those that relate to aeronautics and technology. He is also a member of the Russian Geographical Society and the Russian association of polar explorers. Kuprikov participates in the work of IEC Subcommittee (SC) 18A: Electric cables for ships and mobile and fixed offshore units, and heads Rosstandart technical committee 187. 

The Russian Federation is the biggest country in the world. It covers 10 time zones and a variety of climatic zones: arctic and antarctic as well as temperate. A very small zone close to the Mediterranean is subtropical. The country occupies a territory of over 17,1 million km2, of which the biggest part – 12 million km2 – lies within the polar region. This last area, which has a population of 15 million people and on average only 1 person per km2, has highly specialized needs in terms of the resilience and reliability of electrotechnical devices.

Heating is expensive so domestic energy needs to be highly efficient. Planes, which are used to flying at -60oC at high altitudes, are confronted with these temperatures on the ground, where they represent a different kind of challenge in terms of icing and freezing. A train travelling from Moscow to Vladivostok in January will encounter temperatures ranging from -20oC to +15oC. As a result, devices and systems need additional resilience.

Kuprikov underlined the strong need for new IEC Standards for polar regions, including testing. He considers the range of climatic considerations in IEC Standards to be insufficient and feels that his experience in offshore zones might be useful for establishing new IEC Standards since polar regions are not unique to the Russian Federation. He works closely with the French and Norwegians to share expertise, including in areas of standardization. 

Anna Sherstyuk

Dr Roman Levin, Deputy Director General of the Russian Scientific Research Institute Electronstandart, whose presentation was given by Anna Sherstyuk, further explained the importance of the reliability of machinery and its electronic components in the polar region. He underlined the fact that most failures of electronic devices occur early in usage and are generally attributable to a single fault.

The combined impact of climatic factors such as low atmospheric pressure, wind, high humidity levels, low temperatures, precipitation and icing can have a catastrophic impact on electrotechnical systems. Standards must incorporate these different factors and provide the basis for testing under many different environmental conditions.

The different climates in Russia allow scientists to run real-life tests for electronic equipment in many different situations. International companies, such as Boeing already profit from testing their planes in real-life situations, for example in Irkutsk, under arctic conditions. In view of the extreme distances and low population density of the region, durability and repairability also have to be considered and must be a part of testing.

Long distance transportation

Bernard Lerouge

In his presentation, Prof Lerouge outlined why trains present the best option for long distance transportation, in terms of speed, reliability and energy efficiency. Over a distance of 5 000 km, trains consume only 25 kg of oil-equivalent per passenger, compared to 92 kg for a bus, 186 kg by air or 270 kg by car.

He explained that distance creates differences and that today the European railway is a patchwork that has grown organically over the past 100 years, thereby creating many incompatibilities. TC 9 works to develop Standards that reduce the impact of distance and minimize technical differences whenever possible, encouraging interoperability and safety. There are nearly 30 countries represented in the TC. 

Trains travelling over longer distances are likely to have to deal with many different signalling systems. TC 9 looks at harmonizing rail traffic management systems to reduce errors and incompatibilities. A train’s propulsion equipment will also have to be able to adapt to different energy supply systems, including AC and DC at different ratings.

Impacts of digitization

Nikita Utkin

Nikita Utkin focused on cyber physical systems as they apply to smart manufacturing, industrial internet of things (IIoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). He heads Rosstandart TC 194: Cyber Physical Systems, and also participates in standardization work in the IEC and ISO, notably in Subcommittee (SC) 41: Internet of things and related technologies, of ISO/IEC JTC 1, the IEC and ISO Joint Technical Committee on information technology, and other ISO/IEC JTC 1 Working Groups (WGs) that address topics such as big data, smart cities, internet of things and smart manufacturing. Rosstandart also cooperates with the IEC on a Systems Committee, SyC Smart Cities, as well as in a number of Systems Evaluation Groups (SEGs): SEG 7: Smart Manufacturing, SEG 8: Communication technologies and architectures of electrotechnical Systems, and SEG 9: Smart home/Office building systems.

Utkin explained that data collection is the fuel of the 21st century. While in the past many services were separate – for example governmental services, housing and utilities, power and energy, finance and healthcare – cyber physical systems such as electronic government (e-gov), smart water, smart energy, telemedicine, fintech and blockchain have now been added. Their interconnection allows for greater efficiencies and new services but also brings new risks.

Cyber security is of the utmost importance. While standards are needed at a basic level, International Standards should play the main part.

Oleg Melkin

Prof Oleg Melnik’s talk focused on employing mathematical modelling as the basis for smart manufacturing and the role of standardization in this context. Smart manufacturing, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, represents a complete transition to digital object models and numerical programme management. It integrates the full product lifecycle into a digital environment through the automation of design, production, manufacturing and service processes. 

In the past, engineering and innovation has involved the use of paper plans, experimental facilities and laboratory or full-scale modelling with multiple time-consuming optimization steps. While this worked well for the design and manufacturing of physical objects that fulfilled traditional functions, in the digital world, mathematical modelling is needed to test and optimize design through full three dimensional (3D) simulations. This is faster, and many different scenarios can be verified and validated using previous studies and experiments as a starting base. Standards are as applicable and necessary here as elsewhere.

The Session ended with a lively Q&A session that further outlined some of the challenges of standardization in particular in the area of digitalization, artificial intelligence and mathematical modelling.

Communication systems on board trains need to be able to exchange information, no matter where the train runs. Here again the work of TC 9 is essential. It covers communication and multimedia systems both onboard the train and on the ground, as well as environmental conditions and electromagnetic compatibility.

frozen antenna Electrical equipment in Polar regions has to withstand extreme temperatures
Train signaling panels Trains travelling over longer distances are likely to have to deal with many different signalling systems