Global Standards Organization Makes Great Progress Despite the Pandemic
A Global Vision
ETIM North America relaunched in February of 2020 with a renewed vision: make it easier for North American industry to find and select the right product through a standardized global classification model.
“The classification standard the industry is using currently has a gap,” said Mary Shaw, ETIM executive director. “There’s no predefined values/units of measure, nor is it codified in a way that would allow it to be language independent.”
According to Shaw, this gap allows product data to be inconsistent across brands, forcing the need for the manufacturer-provided data to be normalized by users, which is a costly time-consuming effort.
The ETIM Technical Information Model, with its predetermined features, values, and units—including each piece having a unique code—is a technology language that enables machine reading, so it is consistent across manufacturers, technology platforms and geographic areas.
“In a digital world, a digital language must be used so systems can talk to systems locally and globally,” said Shaw.
An Internationally Adopted Standard
The ETIM Technical Information Model is an internationally adopted standard for the classification of technical product data, enabling the efficient exchange of product descriptors from the manufacturers who produce it, down through their distribution channels, to specifiers and end-users of products.
As a digitized language-independent model, ETIM benefits the entire ecosystem of an industry with its predefined product features and values, streamlining the flow of product information across multiple languages and a multitude of business, ecommerce and engineering/design systems throughout the entire supply chain.
“Although the features/values are predetermined, it doesn’t commoditize,” Shaw said. “Instead, it standardizes the nomenclature of key terminology. Manufacturers’ marketing content enables differentiation to the marketplace.”
Bringing Product Expertise Together for North America
ETIM NA is a collaborative community where members of the industry come together to share their product expertise. Manufacturers, distributors, reps, and software companies come together to lend their applicable expertise to the discussions.
“The international ETIM classification model was first introduced to the industry in 2011, and now ETIM North America has become a standalone organization,” said Mary Shaw, Executive Director. “This is where direct manufacturer and direct distributor members make the final decisions to influence the model. Together, the industry is ensuring our market’s products are sufficiently represented with North American naming conventions and unique regulatory requirements.”
ETIM Accomplishments in 2020
ETIM’s membership grew to 20 members, including three electrical associations: IMARK, Electro-Federation of Canada (EFC) and NEMRA with their respective members. Participation continues to increase, with the refinement of the ETIM standard to include North American specific products and features, as well as translating the product information to North American nomenclatures.
ETIM NA First-Year Stats:
- Membership disbursement:
- Manufacturers: 10
- Distributors: 4
- Associations: 3
- Solution Providers: 3
- Formation of electrical sector board responsible for membership recruitment, industry engagement and sector strategizing
- Product Expert (PE) Groups formed:
- Power Distribution and Automation & Drives
- Wiring Devices and Lighting Controls
- PE Group participants across all members: 44
- Procedures for review, change requests and voting established
- Online, secured collaboration platform acquired
- Current product categories being worked within the two PE Groups: 86 classes with 6275 feature/value combinations
- Number of SKUs in IDEA Connector with ETIM Class Codes: 493,000
Working for Industry Standards
What does this mean for the electrical industry? How is IDEA involved in the process?
IDEA’s updated mission is to be the source of product data and the standards body for the electrical industry. As part of its commitment to the role as a leader of standards, IDEA is on the board of ETIM North America and acting as lead for the Electrical sector.
Outlook for 2021
As its first year as a non-profit organization comes to a close, ETIM NA is continuing to drive membership to accelerate the refinement of the model so it can be more quickly adopted in North America.
“We encourage our industry to get involved with ETIM. This applies to all manufacturers who are—or want to be—leaders in their product areas, and all distributors who see ‘digital’ as core to their businesses longer-term,” said Shaw. “And by ‘digital,’ we mean not just ecommerce as web ordering, but digital communications and digital supply chain. ETIM can help accelerate digital transformation for the industry.”
As a collaborative group, ETIM can work towards translating all of our product information, identify gaps and ultimately cut costs for the entire electrical supply chain,” said Shaw.
Joining ETIM NA
All manufacturers and distributors are invited to join ETIM North America as a Direct Member. As a member, you’ll have the opportunity to bring your product expertise to the table with your peers and influence the ETIM standard for the benefit of the North American market.
Membership to ETIM NA is open to non-direct members as well throughout the entire supply chain.