Standards matters in road/rail transport

Road and rail transport are enjoying a major expansion throughout the world and are central to the global economy. They depend on electrical and electronic systems, which rely on standardisation work from many IEC technical committees (TCs).

All road vehicles, even those powered by internal combustion engines, rely increasingly on electrical and electronic systems. More than three dozen IEC technical committees cover the standardisation of equipment used for road vehicles. They include committees for electric cables, secondary cells and batteries, and switchgear and controlgear.

Electric vehicles standards

IEC's TC for electric road vehicles and electric industrial trucks plays a crucial role in the development of future automotive products. Its importance and workload are set to grow in coming years.

IECEE, the IEC System for Conformity Testing to Standards for Safety of Electrical Equipment, has a scheme covering certain international standards developed for the electric vehicle (EV) industry. These standards cover plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle connectors, and vehicle inlets for conductive charging of EVs, conductive charging systems for EVs, and secondary lithium-ion cells.

Electrotechnology components for the automotive industry

Manufacturers producing electrotechnology components and systems for the automotive industry also rely on IECQ (IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components).

The IECQ is the worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components and associated materials and assemblies, and in particular on its IECQ Automotive Qualification Programme (AQP).

IECQ AQP gives the automotive industry a standardised way of testing the components to ensure their reliability. It also gives the industry assurance that the electronic parts used in their products are of the required quality and reliability, and are not counterfeit. This way, automotive manufacturers can compare the performance of components.

On the right track

Rail transport is a well-established and pivotal mode of transportation for both passengers and freight. It has enabled many remote areas to be developed and, far from sliding into obsolescence, it is enjoying major expansion throughout the world.

The IEC started work on standardisation for metropolitan and railway transport networks in April 1924. It created the Advisory Committee on Electric traction equipment. This committee subsequently became the IEC TC for electrical equipment and systems for railways and its work now extends well beyond ‘tramway and railway motors’. It also includes rolling stock, fixed installations, management systems (including communication, signalling, and processing systems) for railway operation, their interfaces, and their ecological environment.

In June 2014, the IEC and the International Union of Railways signed a global cooperation agreement to develop standards that will increase the safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of rail systems, and benefit the whole railway sector.

Safety top priority in automated public transport

As automation is increasingly entering public transport networks, a top priority is to ensure provision of the highest levels of safety while not restricting the introduction of new technology. Such networks depend heavily on computer based management, control, and communication systems.

IEC’s TC for secondary cells and batteries is responsible for international standards for the systems used in fully automatic transport systems for urban rail and metro transport. This includes safety aspects like passenger alarm systems and automatic system surveillance.

The global expansion of road and rail transport over decades would not happen without the standardisation work done by all the IEC TCs involved in a broad range of sectors.

Published in transport.