Committee Relationships in Supply Chain Dynamics

Committee Relationships in Supply Chain Dynamics

This piece was originally published in the July 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Ken Gettman, Director, International Standards, NEMA

Just as it is no longer reasonable—or even possible—for individuals to live completely independent of one another, the same is true in the standardization world. The sharing of resources, through communications and the exchange of goods or services (including money) between customer and supplier, can be seen in the committees in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) in the United States National Committee of the IEC (USNC).

A product committee of the simplest component (e.g., a conductor) can no longer develop the requirements for Standards in its scope in a vacuum. The committee must consider the needs of its customers (i.e., users of the Standard), suppliers, and the sharing of resources.

To that end, the IEC established the System Approach Aspects, a hierarchical concept for use within each committee’s Strategic Business Plan (SBP). It encourages committee members to examine their colleagues’ committees to determine whether they are customers, suppliers, or other committees.

For example, IEC TC 17 has established the following table as part of its SBP:

System Committees (SCs)
(TC 17 role as customer)
TC 10 Fluids for electrotechnical applications
TC 15 Solid electrical insulating materials
TC 28 Insulation coordination
TC 36 Insulators
SC 36A Insulated bushings
SC 36C Insulators for substations
TC 77 Electromagnetic compatibility
TC 112 Evaluation and qualification of electrical insulating materials and systems
SC 121A Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear
System Committees
(TC 17 role as supplier)
SC 32A High-voltage fuses
TC 33 Power capacitors and their applications
TC 99 System engineering and erection of electrical power installations in systems with nominal voltages above 1 kV AC and 1,5 kV DC, particularly concerning safety aspects
Other Committees
(TC 17 in contact with for technical consistency)
TC 9 Electrical equipment and systems for railways
TC 28 Insulation co-ordination
TC 42 High-voltage and high-current test techniques

The rationale for this categorization is that:

  • customers need to define their needs and confirm that actions taken satisfy those needs;
  • suppliers provide what is needed while understanding the conditions under which the need exists; and
  • other committees incorporate functions and components similar to the original committee.

As devices become more complex and integrated with systems that rely on other devices, products perform in roles not originally anticipated. One example is the electronic motor controller, which was developed for industrial applications but is becoming more widely used in home appliances and electric vehicles.

Additional fallout from the increasing complexity of devices and systems involves the components of end products. End-product engineers and committees may focus on the function and not on the potential availability of interconnected components.

Application to TAGs

In the USNC, operation of TAGs typically has focused on developing and submitting positions on IEC documents and activities that reflect the interests within the U.S. only for the products or subjects under the scope of an IEC committee. Now, it is beneficial to establish liaisons between TAGs similar to those in the IEC. This allows communication of new and changing requirements that affect partner committees.

The liaison also enables discussion of proposals to determine if there would be unanticipated impacts on other U.S. colleagues. Furthermore, collaboration would permit concerns on the ability of components to fulfill the needs of the end product or system application given the current parameters employed in developing the pertinent Standard.

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