FAQ's About IEC Dependability Standards
What is Dependability?
Dependability is defined by the IEC as:
The collective term used to describe the availability performance and its influencing factors: reliability performance, maintainability performance and maintainability support performance. Note Dependability is used only for general descriptions in non-quantitative terms. This is definition 191-02-03 in the document IEC 60050-191 International Electrotechnical Vocabulary, Chapter 191: Dependability and Quality of Service. Essentially this definition encompasses Reliability, Maintainability and Serviceability, the RMS "-ilities," which in the US are commonly covered separately.
What is the IEC?
The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) is the world's oldest international standards organization, having been established in 1906. It is the international standardization agency for the fields of electricity, electronics and related technologies. By agreement with ISO, the other major international standards organization, IEC has responsibility for developing dependability standards, while ISO has responsibility for quality standards. Both organizations cooperate closely; in fact they are headquartered in the same building in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 100 countries are members of the IEC and each country participates through its National Committee. The US National Committee is represented by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
What is TC56?
TC56 is the IEC Technical Committee charged with developing and maintaining dependability standards and related documents. The US is one of 23 countries engaged in TC56 work. TC56 has a Chairman appointed by the IEC and a Secretariat to perform the administrative tasks. The British Standards Institute is the present Secretariat for TC56. All input to the TC56 Secretariat is through the US National Committee (USNC). It is important to understand that established IEC voting rules state that each country participating has one vote.
How are Dependability Standards Developed?
Each country participates in TC56 through a Technical Advisory Group, which is chaired by a Technical Advisor. The US TAG is supported by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) which acts as the Administrator. The TAG is expected to participate by recruiting experts, taking part in document development and review and attending TC56 and TAG meetings in the US and internationally. Although there is now almost total reliance on the Internet, for dissemination of documents and collection of commentary, there is still a need to participate in project meetings, which frequently are abroad.
What Dependability Standards are Available and How Can They Be Obtained?
Over 30 Dependability Standards and Application Guides have been published by the IEC. They are organized in four levels.
- The top level (-1) Standard deals with dependability man-agement
- The second level (-2) Standard provides guidance on dependability program elements and tasks
- The third level (-3) consists of a series of application guides to aid the user. The guides cover items such as analysis techniques, life cycle costing, software aspects of dependability and risk analysis
- The fourth level is a series of stand-alone tools, which define some procedure or statistical technique. Guides for reliability testing, test conditions, statistical methods, and a series of guides on various aspects of maintainability are included.
All the available documents are listed on the IEC Website (www.iec.ch
) under Technical Committee 56. A brief description of each document is available by selecting the document title, which is in HTML. It is also possible to learn about TC56 Work in progress and the membership of the working groups and project groups. Instructions for ordering copies of the standards are shown. TC56 documents are also available through the American National Standards Institute (www.ansi.org).
How do the Dependability Standards Interrelate with the ISO 9000 Quality Management System Standards?
Presently the ISO 9000 suite of documents includes ISO 9000-4/ IEC 60300-1, a dual numbered document entitled
"Dependability Program Management." This will be changed in the new ISO 9000:2000 suite; relevant IEC dependability documents will be merely referenced. A TC56 project to revise the dependability management documents to create a smooth alignment with the new ISO suite is underway. In any case dependability management is now and will be a key adjunct to the quality management system.
Why is Membership in the US TAG Important?
A particular value of IEC dependability standards is their global acceptance. When it is necessary for an enterprise to deal with matters related to reliability, maintainability or service support in international commerce it is logical to refer to these documents. However, if US commercial interests do not actively involve their people in the creation of these documents they may regret the eventual outcome. It is no secret that European Union companies are much more involved in IEC work than US companies.
How Does One Join the US TAG to TC56?
Membership in the US TAG is open to all national interested parties who indicate that they are directly and materially affected by the activity of the TAG. A national interested party is any individual located in the US, representing an organization, company, government agency or themselves, including US branch offices of foreign companies. Membership is not free; an annual fee of $250 is imposed by the USNC for each party participating. Application forms are available from:
Patricia Kopp Standards Administrator, American Society for Quality
To Whom May Further Questions be Directed?
Further questions or inquiries can be directed to the US TAG TA whose name and address is shown below.
John A. Miller
6202 Sonoma Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92647