From boomers to gen Zers

Safety in the digital era thanks to IECQ

For the first time perhaps in the history of mankind, industrialized countries now often have four generations cohabiting in the workplace: baby boomers (born between 1944 and 1964), generation X or Xers (1965-1980), generation Y or millennials (1980-1995) and generation Z or Zers (born after 1995). Better living and working conditions, better healthcare and healthier lifestyles have all contributed to a rise in life expectancy since the second half of the 20th century.

Car dashboard with navigation system
Many new technologies rely heavily on sensors to work

OK boomers?

Another key factor that singles out the last 80 years is the ultra-rapid pace of technological advances. Baby boomers grew up while radio, television, and fax were still developing and saw the transition to the digital workplace to which they had to adapt. They are referred to as “digital immigrants” as opposed to the “digital natives” born after 1980 of which a good part grew up in the digital era.

To communicate, boomers may still favour face-to-face or phone conversations, gen Xers may rely more on emails, millennials and gen Zers may prefer texts and social networks. Still, the workplace is a great unifier, where the unique knowledge and viewpoints of each group can, if well managed, blend and lead to greater efficiency. Also, each group can learn from the others and acquire skills that are not innate.

The transition from analogue to digital has, over time, affected all sectors of industry, the healthcare environment, transportation, education, leisure, culture, services and so forth. So much so that it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain unconnected in 2020.

Electronics inside

Technological advances in the electronics sector would be non-existent without electronic components. Those are often classified into three main categories: active, passive and electromechanical.

Active components rely on a source of energy (DC) and inject power into a circuit. In recent years, technological advances have greatly enhanced their use in an ever-growing number of applications. They include, among others, semiconductor and display devices. Semiconductors comprise diodes, transistors, integrated circuits and optoelectronic components.

Passive components are electrical components that do not generate power, but instead dissipate, store, and/or release it. Among them are capacitors, resistors and inductors. In most circuits, they are connected to active elements, typically semiconductor devices.

Electromechanical components, such as connectors, relays, fuses, switches, microphones, or wires and cables, use an electrical current to create a magnetic field which causes a physical movement.

and cables, use an electrical current to create a magnetic field which causes a physical movement.

Sensors everywhere

One type of electronic component in particular plays a major role in many of today's technologies: sensors. These can be active or passive. Active sensors require an external source of power to operate while passive sensors simply detect and respond to some type of input from the physical environment. They come in many shapes and forms: vision, flow, fibre optic, gas, motion, image, colour, light, pressure, infrared, photoelectric and so on.

Sensors and sensor systems are a key underpinning technology for a wide range of applications. They can be used to improve quality control and productivity in manufacturing processes by monitoring variables such as temperature, pressure, flow and composition. They help ensure the environment is clean and healthy by monitoring the levels of toxic chemicals and gases emitted in the air, both locally and – via satellites – globally. They monitor area and regional compliance with environmental standards. They enhance health, safety and security in the home and workplace through their use in air-conditioning systems, fire and smoke detection and surveillance equipment. They play a major role in medical devices, transportation, entertainment equipment and everyday consumer products.

Smart and safe

Electronic components may come in many shapes and sizes but they have commonalities. They need to be accurate, reliable and high quality. Defective components can have serious consequences for humans and their environment. They also have to meet the requirements of national or regional regulations concerning hazardous substances.

A lot is at stake

Manufacturers and suppliers of all types of electronic components throughout the world have a powerful tool at their disposal, enabling their products to meet the strictest requirements: IECQ testing and certification. IECQ is the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components. 

As the worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ tests and certifies components using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards. 

In addition, there is a multitude of related materials and processes that are covered by the IECQ schemes. IECQ certificates are used worldwide as a tool to monitor and control the manufacturing supply chain, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market, and eliminating the need for multiple re-assessments of suppliers. 

For more information on IECQ: www.iecq.org