Systems standards.   Much of the technology world seems to be talking about systems standards these days.  You’d think we didn’t have any standards that allow products to operate effectively with other products in applications.   But we do . . . and they do.  So what’s all the discussion about systems standards?    

The IEC Master Plan 2011 does a nice job of describing the issue—“The multiplicity of technologies and their convergence in many new and emerging markets, particularly those involving large-scale infrastructure, now demand a top-down approach to standardization, starting at the system or system architecture rather than at the product level.  System standards are also increasingly required in sectors such as environment, safety and health.”

NEMA product sections typically drive the standards work, product by product, from the bottom up.  For most of NEMA’s 85 years of existence standards have been about products.  NEMA members pay to play in product standards committees.  Most company technical representatives who participate in NEMA standards work are product engineers.   Systems are somebody else’s responsibility.  Or are they?  Now along comes the Smart Grid which by definition is a mega-system of hardware and software products that must work together—interoperate, communicate, coordinate—in order to accomplish the goals for which Smart Grid is intended.   Now along comes energy-efficient or high performance buildings.  By definition, this is a mega system of hardware and software products that must work together—interoperate, communicate, coordinate—in order to accomplish the goals for which high performance buildings are being designed.  See a pattern here??     

The US electroindustry’s market driven technology challenge in 2011, 2012, 2013 and for the foreseeable future, is to make company resources available in sufficient numbers, to enable rapid, efficient and technologically sound combinations of products into systems which are needed to meet 21st century needs.  Industry is beginning to step up but, frankly, it has a long, long way to go.   What will it take to get more of the right people at the table?  A commitment to changing the way things have always been done.  


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