Development projects – before you start – Look for technical standards!

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Introduction

When starting a new project, it is necessary to have well defined the physical location where the equipment will operate or the type of application for which this equipment is designed. It might be mandatory to be compliant to requirements defined in specific technical standards for that application. In this article we will talk a little about this subject. It is always recommended that even if there is no such requirement, the designer to have a more general knowledge of technical specifications , so that the projects of his equipment becomes more reliable and of better quality. That is what is known as  good design practices. A way to gain this knowledge is the consultation of the various technical standards that address electrical circuits, printed circuit boards etc.

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Why should we use technical standards?

Technical standards have some important functions. One is to establish criteria and specifications to ensure the safety of people who will be in contact with the equipment, the environment around them and of the equipment itself. Another function is to ensure the quality and reliability of the equipment.

The requirement of compliance with technical standards, for those who are purchasing that equipment, is a guarantee of interoperability of the equipment.

The strongest reason for you to observe in your project the conformance to specifications of binding technical standards, is that if you do not, you can loose your entire project and the time invested in it. This is the case of equipments that require certifications. If such equipment does not have it, they can not be marketed under any circumstances and can hardly be exported. At best you will need to perform several subsequent corrections on it. In a worst case, if an equipment after installation causes damage to persons or premises because of that, the financial loss for everyone involved is huge.


Examples

Suppose hypothetically that your project is a device for use in the medical field. For this application, the equipment must necessarily meet the IEC 60601 standards, which place requirements that guarantee safety especially for the patient. You can search these technical standards at the standards organization of your country, such as the ABNT (Brazilian Technical Standards Association), or direct at the webstore of IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission):

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catálogo da ABNT (Brazilian Standards Association) – Type in the field Número the number 60601;

ABNT_60601

 

webstore da IEC (click on the figure below to open the full result page)

 

IEC_60601

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Another example is the case where the equipment is installed in locations where there is risk of explosion or fire, for example a petrochemical plant, or a petrol station. In this case, the equipment must meet the safety standards for hazardous areas (equipment operating in explosive atmospheres). The specific technical standards for such cases are the IEC 60079.

To these technical standards:

Where to get these standards?

You will get technical standards at your local standard organization office. Brazilian technical standards are available for purchase at ABNTABNT also sells many international standards. Other standards may be purchased directly at the standards organizations or through resellers.

For those who are self-employed or freelance designers, to buy technical standards ends up being a bit costly. For reference, the average price of a standard is around US$ 300.00 and rarely is it necessary to buy only one. One should be careful to include this cost when performing the project budget. In an emergency case, you can find some drafts of the standards on the Internet.

In short, you must always be aware of on the need of your project to comply with certain technical standards. This may impact highly on the cost and success of your project.

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Development projects – Before you start

  • What does the customer want? – The art of extracting the customer what he really wants and needs;
  • Search for Patents! – The advantage of researching patent systems to gain knowledge in specific subjects and to know the solutions given by competitors;
  • Study some more! – Other sources to acquire the necessary knowledge and extract the information that is necessary for the development of your project.

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Creative Commons License
This work, “Look for technical standards!“, by Henrique Frank W. Puhlmann, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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