An International Standard With An Italian "Heart"

Italian companies took the lead in development of an international process control systems standard.

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It is not without a bit of pride that Italians talk about the IEC EN 62603 Specification—“Industrial Process Control Systems—Guideline for evaluating Process Control Systems. Part 1: Specification.” The project started with nine Italian companies associated with the Clui (CLub of the Italian Users)-Exera organization who were looking for a standardized methodology to evaluate a process control system (PCS). Then, the CEI (Italian Electrical Committee) got involved, and it gained permission from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC, to develop an international standard.

“The academic and industrial Italian worlds reached a very important goal with this specification, most of all considering of the importance of the topic,” says Dario Fantoni, president of Clui and Convenor of the WG (Working Group) 6 of the IEC SC65B Committee, created in 2008 to work on PCS. “It is our moment to prove that we can give our positive contribution to the international standardization process.”

Step by step

Then, the task was assigned to the Italian academic team coordinated by Paolo Pinceti, of the University of Genoa. In July 2010, the project was submitted to the IEC during the TC65 Committee meeting; during the Seattle gathering in October 2010, it was accepted by the IEC. The Committee Draft for Vote (CDV) regarding the first part of the specification was presented in December, on time, as required. By the Seoul meeting, which is scheduled to take place in May 2011, every comment to the CDV is expected to be solved, while the second part of the specification would be completed during 2011.

IEC EN 62603 first part focuses on the identification of the PCS main functions (by the user), in a standardized way, and their evaluation according to the application. The specification’s aim is not to make a general ranking, but to choose the right PCS for the specific application. The user has to classify functions from “must” to “optional,” giving them a mark from “A” to “D.” The PCS producer will do the same, giving marks to its PCS compliance to the required functions.

The final text is assembled into 11 chapters, each related to a specific PCS aspect. The specification has also been developed into a software application, based on Microsoft Excel. It is a real working tool, helping users and producers to match their requests and offerings. They have to fill in any blank space on the software charts; they are helped by automatic menus; the software also includes the text of any other specification that is mentioned.

About the author

Ilaria De Poli,, is an editor at “Fiera Milano Editore,” a magazine covering automation and manufacturing in Italy.

International Electrotechnical Commission

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