Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Features Columnbus Opinion
Setting the standard: Making industry standards a way of life will benefit us all


November 16, 2007
By Ian Verhappen

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All of us take standards for granted. Yet without them, much of what we do today would not be possible, including the use of the Internet, telephones, e-mail and the electricity on which we run it all.

In Canada, the Standards Council of Canada oversees all the standards used within the country and represents us on the global stage. The council has offices in Ottawa but, like most standards-setting bodies, it relies on experts from various fields to provide the knowledge on which the standards are based.

The SCC is a member of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), which is the international standards setting body of most interest to those of us in the automation profession. (There are also some standards from a similar global organization ISO, but we will focus on the IEC standards for now).

The particular series of IEC standards of most interest to the automation industry are the TC65 series of standards. TC stands for Technical Committee, and the scope of the Industrial-Process Measurement and Control committee, which was established in 1968, is to prepare basic standards for industrial automation as well as process industry-specific standards.

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TC65 has been broken into four subcommittees as follows:

SC 65A: System Aspects. This subcommittee prepares international standards regarding the generic aspects of systems used in industrial-process measurement, control and manufacturing automation: operational conditions (including EMC), methodology for the assessment of systems, functional safety, etc. SC65A also has a safety pilot function to prepare standards dealing with functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic systems.

SC 65B: Devices. This subcommittee prepares international standards regarding the devices (hardware and software) used in industrial-process measurement, control and manufacturing automation, including analyzing equipment for process measurement. The scope ranges from simple devices to complex ones and covers such aspects as interchangeability, performance evaluation and definition of functionality.

SC 65C: Industrial Networks. This subcommittee prepares international standards on wired and wireless industrial networks for industrial-process measurement, control and manufacturing automation, as well as for instrumentation systems used for research, development and testing purposes. The scope includes cabling, interoperability and performance evaluation.

SC 65E: Asset Management. This subcommittee prepares international standards to specify digital representation of device properties and functions, methodologies and applications supporting automation of engineering processes, including diagnostic and maintenance techniques, and enterprise control system

If you are wondering why there is no 65D, this is because approximately one year ago, it was determined that this Working Group, which dealt mostly with field instruments, was relatively inactive, therefore the Standards Council of Canada would dissolve it and move its components into 65B and the new 65E. Within each subcommittee, there are also several working groups where the standards are actually prepared and maintained.

All these standards not only need to be developed, they also need to be kept current with changes in technology and therefore need to, as a minimum, be reaffirmed every five years. I have the privilege of being the chairperson for SC65E, so in addition to taking this opportunity to share with you how standards are developed, I would like to encourage you to consider becoming a participant in one or more of these working groups. Doing so will help Canada become a larger player in the standards process and also help you with your career, not only through the recognition associated with being a contributor to the standards, but also by becoming aware and influencing the direction of technology as early in the process as possible. The time commitment is variable and most of the work can be done online from your home or office computer.

If you are interested in learning more about how to participate in standards development you can either contact me via the information below or contact Wayne Perrin, Program Officer, Standards Council of Canada at 613-238-3222, ext. 402.


Ian Verhappen is an ISA Fellow, ISA certified automation professional, adjunct professor at Tri-State University and director of industrial networks at MTL Instruments, a global firm specializing in fieldbus and industrial networking technologies. E-mail him at Ian.Verhappen@ICE-Pros.com, or visit his website at www.ICE-Pros.com.

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