Vision of the IEC Ambassador for Conformity Assessment Systems – Affiliate Training

In 2020, the IEC appointed Trond Sollie as its Ambassador for IEC Conformity Assessment training needs for the Affiliate Country Programme. Sollie has over 30 years of experience working in conformity assessment at both the national and international levels. A long-time member of the IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB), Sollie has a solid understanding of the four IEC CA Systems – IECEE, IECQ, IECEx and IECRE.

IEC Ambassador Trond Sollie
IEC Ambassador Trond Sollie

For many years, Sollie has also been involved in standardization work, serving as board chair of the Norwegian standards body NEK, which included serving as President of the IEC National Committee. This provided him with an understanding of the symbiotic relationship between standardization and conformity assessment in the field of electrotechnology. Sollie currently serves as Senior Corporate Advisor to the management of Nemko.

In an interview with e-tech, Sollie provides his thoughts about his role as IEC Ambassador and the relevance of conformity assessment to affiliate countries.

What are your plans in your role as the IEC Ambassador for the CA training needs of the Affiliate Country Programme?

IEC international standardization is well known by affiliate countries, but this is not the case for the four IEC Conformity Assessment Systems, i.e. IECEE, IECEx, IECQ and the most recent, IECRE, for renewable energy.

My prime vision for this role is to contribute to making these fantastic CA systems better known among affiliate countries, and perhaps influence their national electrotechnical committees (NEC) to utilize these systems to their benefit.

How can affiliate countries become involved in IEC CA Systems?

Compared with being involved in IEC standardization activities, which requires an infrastructure with stakeholders, standards implementation, publication, etc., taking advantage of the IEC CA Systems is very simple.

I have been engaged as an advisor for countries which, within their national committees, have established a small operation to issue their own national product certificates based upon the recognition of test certificates issued by national certification bodies (NCBs) within the IECEE system. As a result, national committees can generate revenue by charging applicants (whether an importer or a foreign manufacturer/exporter) a reasonable amount for issuing a national product certificate.

Which of the IEC CA Systems are most relevant to affiliate countries?

In some countries, several of the IEC CA Systems may be relevant, including IECEx which relates to equipment for use in explosive atmospheres and/or IECQ which is for the quality of electronic components. IECEE, however, which offers safety assurance of electrical/electronic consumer products, is relevant for all countries.

There are currently 54 Member Bodies in the IECEE certification scheme (the ‘CB scheme’), with a total of 90 national certification bodies (NCBs) and 530 associated testing laboratories (CBTLs), all of which are subject to a strict peer assessment regime to ensure mutual recognition.

Nemko in Norway is an example of a leading NCB with 18 CBTLs in countries around the world. A CB test certificate issued by Nemko, based on testing the products at one of its CBTLs, is then recognized for national certification in all the other member countries and can naturally be recognized in the affiliate countries as well.

Can you give examples of IECEE product categories that could be most relevant for affiliate countries?

The IECEE is the oldest and by far the largest of the four IEC CA Systems. Last year, more than 110 000 test certificates were issued under the IECEE CB scheme, mostly for household appliances, IT products, audio/video products and lighting equipment, but also for medical devices, batteries, etc., all of which are relevant in the affiliate countries as well as in other countries.