June is quite a special time of year for the IEC: it was the month the organization was founded back in 1906 and it is also the month of William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs’ birthday. This name may not mean much to the IEC community as such: for the organization, William Thomson has always been commonly known as “Lord Kelvin”.
He was the first IEC president, which he became after a life devoted to science and teaching. He had numerous patented inventions to his name, of which 11 relate to telegraphy, 6 to dynamo machines and electric lamps and 25 to electric measuring instruments.
“If you can’t measure things, you can’t improve them,” he was famously quoted as saying. One of the IEC’s core missions, even today, is to provide standards that enable safety and performance measurement for a wide number of electrical and electronic devices.
For all IEC technical committees, measurement is fundamental. IEC TC 112, for instance, prepares standards for the evaluation amd qualification of electrical insulating materials and systems. IEC TC 1O6 establishes methods for the assessment of electric magnetic and electromagnetic fields associate with human exposure. And the list goes on…
Some technical committees are even specifically dedicated to developing standards for measurement instruments. IEC Subcommitte 65 B prepares international standards for devices used in industrial process measurement and control, such as analysing equipment, actuators, and programmable logic controllers.
Hand in hand with measurement goes conformity assessment. The IEC runs four different CA systems which enable to test whether devices and equipment meet the requirements specified in the standards.