ETIM International

ETIM International is the non-profit international standardization organization responsible for governing and managing the ETIM Technical Information Model standard (think “IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) of Europe”). The ETIM standard is an electro-technical product classification system used largely in Europe, but is now global, and is their equivalent to IDEA’s Classification Attribute Standard (CAS) which is based on the United Nations Standard Products and Services Codes (UNSPSC) ®), used in the United States and Canada. Individual country-based ETIM organizations (Federations) also exist as ETIM support for their country’s members and to translate the model into their country’s language.

Like the CAS, ETIM offers manufacturers a guide for uniformly providing descriptive technical and marketing content to their trading partners. Unlike the CAS, which is a hierarchical taxonomy based on the global UNSPSC® product categorization taxonomy, the ETIM model is arranged according to product parameters. Such parameters make it easier to search for, and find, products. According to ETIM International, these parameters include the following:

  • Product groups – A logical cluster/group of products used to more easily attribute categories/classes but is not used as part of a parametric search.
  • Product classes – Each product class is used to group and specify similar products using technical product features.
  • Synonyms (Keywords) – Alternative names for a product class, facilitating product searches. Synonyms are language-dependent, so each individual ETIM country organization is responsible for the synonyms in the local language.
  • Features – Descriptive language about a product.  A list of features is uniquely assigned to each product class, and can be numerical, alphanumerical, or range type and then requires a unit of measure and of course logical (Boolean) as well.


IDEA’s Involvement with ETIM International

Standardized product data enables manufacturers to consistently capture, store, and distribute their product information through the entire supply chain. As more business is being conducted internationally, however, the power of standardization is often diminished when different markets use different standards.

In order to extend the benefits of data standardization around the world and support IDEA’s customers who want to use ETIM, IDEA is working in cooperation with ETIM International to align their two standards and provide a consistent set of product categories and descriptors for North America and Europe.




IDEA is an official member of ETIM International, representing the US and Canada. An IDEA-led ETIM Committee was formed to help create a translation/adaptation of the ETIM model to North American English. ETIM was originally designed for the European market and their data needs and regulations, which are significantly different from US and Canadian needs, thus the need for a North American translation.

ETIM International strongly supports IDEA’s efforts to translate and identify areas where the model is missing North American product information, so they can be included in the official ETIM model.  The translation will then inspire the creation of a map between our North American ETIM adaptation, and IDEA’s UNSPSC-based Classification Attribute Standard (CAS).

By building a North American translation and aligning the ETIM standard with the CAS, manufacturers, distributors and contractors in North America will be able to use the model within their business systems, on its own, or as an accompaniment to the CAS.   IDEA now accommodates both data models in their data synchronization platform, enabling its users to exchange both CAS and ETIM product information with their domestic trading partners as well as their international trading partners, while still continuing to maintain their data in one centralized location, in one standardized format.

Once the translation/alignment map is complete, manufacturers will have an easier time sharing their marketing content with their US, Canadian, and European-based distributors simultaneously. In addition, IDEA will host, secure, and distribute ETIM data between trading partners, and develop guidelines for the exchange of the product data via IDEA’s data synchronization platform.



About ETIM International

The association ETIM International is a partnership of national ETIM organizations and has its official seat in Brussels. ETIM International is founded to join forces in the development, maintenance, publishing and promotion of one ETIM Technical Information Model (ETIM) for the classification of technical products. The power of ETIM is the collective; independent and sector wide organizing is the only way to success. The focus of ETIM International for the presence lies on the classification of electro-technical products, but the association is open for entry of other related industry sectors. Current member countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and North America.(

About IDEA

The Industry Data Exchange Association, Inc. (IDEA) is the official technology service provider and eBusiness standards body of the electrical industry. Since its founding by the partnership between National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) and National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) partnership in 1998, IDEA’s applications provide value to vertical markets such as industrial, retail, and consumer packaged goods. Every year, thousands of manufacturers and distributors find the most cost-effective methods through IDEA’s innovative products and processes. IDEA’s applications help connect the supply chain and make business processes efficient, easy and profitable while maintaining the highest standards of data quality. IDEA is headquartered in Arlington, VA (



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