Dr Karl Weber, an expert in industrial communication at Beckhoff Automation, has been appointed to the IEEE SA (Standards Association) Standards Board (SASB). He is one of two Europeans among the 24 IEEE SASB experts. This board of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the world’s largest professional association of electrical and information technology engineers, decides on all project plans and approvals of standards.
The primary objective of the IEEE SA is to steer technical progress along successful paths through clear regulations in standards. The standards development process – overseen by the SASB – is rooted in balance, openness, fair procedures and consensus.
Standards of all types are used daily and in various ways, even hundreds of times when simply reaching for a smartphone. According to Dr Weber: “Interoperability based on standards is self-evident for us and it only becomes noticeable when the standards are missing and we have to do certain things in a very cumbersome way, or when devices do not work together at all. Development of electronics and software, in particular, requires an expansion of standardisation activities, something that has also been undertaken primarily by the IEEE. Volunteers work on nearly 1 300 standards and related projects. Thanks to their commitment, we can manage the creative chaos caused by the rapid pace of technological development.”
New standardisation projects
Together with 13 other experts in the IEEE SASB, Dr Weber will focus on the task of incorporating new standardisation projects. The number of such projects has grown continually in recent years, with the figure having more than doubled in the past four years alone. The new standardisation projects will generate a visible impact in areas such as automation technology in the second half of this decade. Such long lead times require that the right course for future development is set now.
Automation providers, including companies like Beckhoff, rely on sustainable standards from many areas. And more groups in the IEEE are showing an interest in industrial applications. The recognition that automation experts are highly valued in the IEEE SA is a very positive signal overall for Beckhoff.
Beyond the IEEE SASB, Dr Weber is also involved in two standing committees.
- Audit Committee (AudCom) – this is where the rules for developing standards are examined to ensure the standards are developed according to the procedures described in the IEEE SA Bylaws and the IEEE SA Operations Manual.
- New Standard Committee (NesCom) – this committee is responsible for ensuring proposed standardisation projects within the IEEE are properly developed, no competing standards arise and interested parties are appropriately involved in the development of standards.
In addition, he is a representative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) to the Government Engagement Programme on Standards (GEPS), which advises the IEEE SA and enables governments from all over the world to access the standardisation processes of the IEEE.
Years of experience
Dr Weber has been working on fieldbus standardisation since the mid-1980s and in this regard is also involved in the international standardisation organisation for electrical engineering (IEC) among others. After studying computer science and completing his doctorate, he worked for 25 years in the field of real-time communication at Siemens. He has devoted himself to Ethernet communication and contributed his expertise to a broad range of projects in industry and research (including at the Zurich University of Applied Science and the Fraunhofer Institute (IOSB INA)). Since 2013, Dr Weber has been working as an expert for industrial communication for Beckhoff and in the EtherCAT Technology Group. He has also been active in the IEEE for 19 years and is now a senior member of the organisation.