Frankfurt 2016: Centre of the electrotechnical world of standardization

© andreas reiter photography

The IEC General Meeting 2016 in Frankfurt counts as the largest meeting of the IEC standardization community so far. Altogether, the activities and meetings of more than 100 Technical Committees and Subcommittees covered a period of three weeks (September 26 to October 17, 2016). In addition, Management Committees, Young Professionals and many of IEC’s Technical Committees have met during the IEC General Meeting’s main week from October 10 to 14.

Nearly 450 sessions were held during this entire period in Frankfurt and its vicinity, for which almost 3,500 technical experts from over 80 nations traveled to Frankfurt am Main – not counting the accompanying persons and additional guests. This high number of participants shows the community’s strong interest not only in the General Meeting’s specific topics but also in the large variety of questions regarding IEC’s reinvention.

Reinvent Standardization

© hannibal hanschke


The true importance of IEC’s 80th General Meeting, however, cannot be measured by its quantitative records, but by its exceptional content quality, which was created by both holding numerous sessions and by the innovative level of discourse especially experienced in the Reinvention Laboratory.

In conclusion, the following key requirements on standardization work of the future result from discussions at the Reinvention Laboratory sessions:

  • Expand and intensify cooperation at all levels, even beyond the boundaries of the IEC
  • Adapt processes and workflows in a way that standardization work becomes more agile, flexible, efficient and faster
  • Make standards and requirements machine-readable to simplfy the implementation of standards, e.g. in the field of Industry 4.0
  • Harmonize tests and provide them in a machine-readable format to facilitate their application for conformity assessment
  • Make standards more attractive and more easily accessible


The effects of the mega trend of digitalization on standardization were examined in numerous formats, discussions and conversations. Actively shaping the change – this was the main focus for many proposals. The rapid change of society, markets and value chains creates a high pressure for change on standardization work. This affects, on one hand, the contents of standards and specifications; on the other hand, it affects the possible emergence, future usage and range of standards and specifications on offer. To be able to keep pace with the fast changes, standardization work needs to become faster and begin at an earlier point in time. This was the conclusion of the session’s participants, who were very aware of the pending tasks’ particular urgency.

For all this, effective and attractive digital tools which shall be globally available are needed: a toolbox for the standardization work of the future. Besides the possibility of a well-regulated and transparent cooperation, those tools also have to provide data security.

Frankfurt Agreement strengthens cooperation between IEC and CENELEC

IEC President Dr. Junji Nomura and CENELEC President Dr. Bernhard Thies presenting the Frankfurt Agreement – © milton arias fotografie/iec

During the IEC General Meeting in Frankfurt, IEC President Dr. Junji Nomura and CENELEC President Dr Bernhard Thies signed the “Frankfurt Agreement”. This agreement governs the close cooperation between the International Standards Organization IEC and the European counterpart CENELEC. The “Frankfurt Agreement” ties in with the “Dresden Agreement” signed in 1996. The agreement’s main goal is to underline the international orientation of electrotechnical standards and adjust it to the boundary conditions that have changed

New committees for wearables and low voltage DC

Progress in the service of people all over the world by standardization in the field of wearables – © istock/eternal creative

The IEC/SMB (Standardization Management Board) resolved the establishment of two new Technical Committees, one of which is a committee for Wearables that can be worn either as such or when being sewn into clothing. Wearables are gaining a lot of importance, especially due to their versatile applications in the fields of wellness, health and medicine, .
The second new committee is a System Committee on low voltage DC, which was founded to fulfill both the current comeback of direct current for the use of renewable energies and the energy efficiency in household equipment.

Lord Kelvin Award for Uwe Kampet

IEC President Dr. Junji Nomura and IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk awarding the Lord Kelvin Award to Uwe Kampet – © hannibal hanschke

At this year’s IEC General Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, Uwe Kampet was presented the Lord Kelvin Award. This particular award was named after the first IEC President, mathematician, physicist and engineer William Thomas. Mr Kampet is active in leading positions in national, European and international standardization committees since 1990. Amongst others, he helped shaping the requirements of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) of household Equipment.

Ralph Sporer becomes Chair of IEC’s Standardization Management Board

© hannibal hanschke

Ralph Sporer, PhD (Dr. rer. nat.), was elected Chair of IEC Standardization Management Board (IEC/SMB) during the 80th IEC General Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. The physicist begins his first term as IEC Vice President on January 1, 2017, for an initial term of three years. Sporer succeeds James E. Matthews III, who has been SMB Chair since 2011 and whose term cannot be extended. He is being tasked with reconciling the challenges of digitalization with the traditional values of the IEC such as safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness.


Connecting Communities – Reinvent Standardization

360 degree communication in the true sense of the word took place in the arena of the Reinvention Laboratory – © andreas reiter photography

The future of standardization – masterminded at the Reinvention Laboratory

The Reinvention Laboratory was an unprecedented platform for the presentation, information and exchange associated with the urgent questions concerning electrotechnical standardization. Important topics such as digitalization, new processes and formats, Industry 4.0 and its Standardization Council 4.0, online collaboration etc. were highlighted and discussed frankly and in dialogue with moderators and experts.


Interesting stands of sponsors provide important stimuli for the Reinvention Laboratory – © andreas reiter photography

Core of the Reinvention Laboratory was undoubtedly the arena as a central stage surrounded by audience seats, comparable to a modern amphitheater. In a total of 17 sessions, recognized experts from practice, science and technology presented their viewpoints regarding the future of standardization. Lively discussions of interested participants lead to interesting results, which helped to further develop strategies for standardization under changing external conditions. The first open event of the Young Professionals’ discussion of the Master Plan also took place at the Reinvention Lab. This way, the arena became a platform for the exchange of ideas, visions and concepts all around the motto “Connecting communities – Reinvent standardization“. All sessions were streamed live and could be followed all over the world by the community. The recordings can be found on DKE’s YouTube channel as well as on the IEC GM 2016 Homepage.

A total of 30 Sponsors not only supported this IEC General Meeting financially but also enriched ist Content.The accompanying exhibition, at which the sponsoring companies introduced innovative technological solutions and presented exhibits, was a very important component of the Reinvention Laboratory. Among other things, this included a virtual 3D experience on a 100-meter-high wind turbine with the help of VR glasses by innogy SE, a demonstrator for the optimization of the overall equipment effectiveness by TE Connectivity Germany GmbH as well as the fully automated manufacturing of terminal strips controlled by the "digital twin" of the product of Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG.


A virtual look to the future of standardization could be taken in the TC of the Future – © andreas reiter photography

Last but not least, the TC of the Future: The numerous visitors had the chance to gain highly interesting, interactive insights in possible future working methods of TCs. The great challenges which come along with the disruptive developments in the course of digital revolution were particularly taken into account. The 360° App was of high importance for these virtual future visions. Even after the conclusion of the General Meeting, this special VR App offered its users also great impressions of the Opening Ceremony.

Multimedia communication connects individuals and contents

Media communication on all channels complemented the personal exchange among participants. – © andreas reiter photography

The fact that this international meeting was characterized by “Connecting communities” was also shown by a new feature, which has been used for the first time: the General-Meeting-App. Compactly available on a smartphone or a tablet, the app did not only provide all important information, but also offered the opportunity of an exchange with other app users or to simply post contributions. These possibilities were used by the participants to a large extent. Each one of the more than 1,300 registered users could easily compile its’ personal event programme and was then automatically notified, e.g. in case of room changes. The participants’ opinions about recent standardization trends were accumulated by polls and surveys and their results could directly be displayed. The users were able to actively communicate via social media postings.

© andreas reiter photography

The media portal of the event website rapidly evolved into a virtual second location of the General Meeting. During the event’s main week from 7:00 a.m. until late night, numerous editors in the specifically installed Broadcasting Center created current contributions for the web presence and the app. The footage was also coordinated at the Broadcasting Center. This way, there was a filmic summary of the highlights on a daily basis for every event day. Overall, about 50 videos document the most important events of the General Meeting. And for those who could not personally participate in the Reinvention Laboratory, it was possible to participate in the sessions via live stream.

The recordings can be found on DKE’s YouTube channel and on the IEC GM 2016 Homepage.

Social events connect people and communities

© detlev klockow

The various social events with about 250 to 1,800 participants could persuasively stake their communicative claim of this IEC General Meeting even beyond the working level.
This was already witnessed at the 80th IEC General Meeting Opening Ceremony in the charming atmosphere in the renowned “Festhalle” at the Frankfurt fair: in the spirit of “Connecting Communities”, a circular podium, the so-called “floating stage”, floated underneath the dome and brought the speakers at eye level with the 1,800 guests.

© dke

At the first TC and SC Chairs and Secretaries Networking Evening on Tuesday night, the name is program. With finger food and matching beverages, accompanied by inspiring music, experts from all continents and various organizations got into conversations also on a personal Level.

© dke

The traditional NC Presidents Dinner, to which for the first time also the representatives of the IEC Affiliate Countries were invited, had also been consequently designed for meeting and communication. The result was a supremely casual and convivial evening which met with a positive response of the guests.

© dke

The official conclusion of the 80th IEC General Meeting took place at the Farewell Party. In the society house of Frankfurt’s Palmengarten, some 1,200 guests met in a festive atmosphere to conduct intensive conversations and establish new contacts according to the motto “Connecting Communities”.

Personal Summaries

© hannibal hanschke

For Michael Teigeler, Managing Director of DKE and Secretary of the German National Committee, the IEC General Meeting with its results and guiding decisions was a great success. The high value of standardization has been underlined by the large number of Technical Committees and Subcommittees which attended. Standardization has to reassemble and open up to wider circles in order to gain more importance. The way of achieving this was shown in an impressive manner at the Reinvention Laboratory’s sessions.

Ceremonial opening of the Reinvention Laboratory on Monday, October 10, 2016 – © hannibal hanschke

IEC President Dr. Junji Nomura as well as IEC Vice President Dr. Yinbiao Shu highlighted that exceptional performance was shown to take forward standardization and thanked the German NC for being an outstanding host.

© hannibal hanschke

The requirement of digitalization and thus the necessary change in standardization has again been highlighted as a conclusion of the IEC General Meeting 2016. This cannot be implemented by tomorrow though. Or as DKE’s President Roland Bent put it: “I see the 80th General Meeting as a starting signal for the departure into a new standardization era.”

Both the factual results and the multiply shared emotional impressions of the General Meeting 2016 illustrate the strength of the international electrotechnical standardization community, which is fed by the commonality of its goals, interests and values. This common spirit could be experienced everywhere in Frankfurt. 

The 80th IEC General Meeting 2016 in Frankfurt am Main ended with the solemn baton change to the Russian delegation which is going to organize the 81st IEC General Meeting in Vladivostok in October 2017.

Many thanks to all who made this meeting a success with their commitment and their dedicated participation!