More than ever, we have had to rely on electronics to get by: teleworking, telemedicine, home entertainment to replace the many cultural and sports events that have been cancelled due to the spreading of the virus. Even after the months of lockdown, our lives haven not gone back to normal. We’ve had to invent a new normal that takes into account social/physical distancing, the resurgence of the virus in many countries after a short respite and the growing feeling that Covid-19 is going to be with us for some time.
To help us get through this, electronics have played a major role. Computers and smart devices allowed us to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues at work. Many medical consultations are performed online, thus keeping both patient and doctor safe.
For those who were hospitalized, advanced technologies have assisted them in their fight for life. And even the tests that are being carried out extensively throughout the world rely heavily on electronics. As do the applications that have been developed by countries to trace the virus.
None of the above would exist without electronic components. They are at the core of every device, big or small, that surrounds us, monitors our health and performances and helps us keep in contact with the outside world.
Electronic components are key elements that enable devices to connect and exchange data. Because they are used in so many different devices and systems, they have to be of high quality and reliability. A faulty component in a smart medical device or in a car's electronic system can result at best in poor performance and at worst in injuries or fatalities.
One type of electronic component in particular plays a major role today: 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.
Electronic components may come in many shapes and sizes but they have commonalities. They need to be accurate, reliable and of 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.
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 are 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.
IECQ provides manufacturers with independent verification that IEC International Standards and other specifications have been met by suppliers who hold an IECQ certification.
The conformity assessment system provides the following core certification schemes and programmes which serve as an effective supply chain management tool for industry in verifying compliance with component specifications and standards:
It is essential for manufacturers – of electronic components, electronic devices and equipment – to rely on IECQ for the certification of their products. Only then can they be assured that their products are safe and of the highest quality and reliability.
More information can be found on the IECQ website.