ISO/TC 178 Plenary Meeting 2019 in Frankfurt and Implications for the Future

The U.S. delegation: (l-r, back row) your author (chair), Geraldine Burdeshaw, Robibero, (l-r, front row) Blackaby, David Evans and Hank E. Peelle

ISO takes the initiative to develop standards for cybersecurity and new digital technologies as they impact the industry.

Initial impressions of Frankfurt, Germany, are of a modern, bustling, industrious city with a spectacular skyline on the banks of the Main River. Frankfurt is, indeed, all of this and more. The city has roots stretching back hundreds of years. It was one of the most important cities in the Holy Roman Empire, and German kings and emperors were crowned there from circa 1560 for more than 200 years. Frankfurt was always an important educational and cultural center. It was the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a poet, novelist, dramatist and statesman whose works are still held in high esteem. It is one of the world’s greatest financial centers, hosting the European Central Bank, Bundesbank, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, as well as the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, which is the busiest in continental Europe. The Frankfurt International Airport is one of the busiest in Europe.

Contemporary Frankfurt is a very diverse city, with residents displaying multiple ethnicities, cultural heritages and racial and religious backgrounds. While it is a model of modern architecture and life, it still retains an element of traditional culture and architecture. Based on its energy, diversity, creativity and economic significance, it is fitting that the city was selected to host the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee (ISO/TC) 178 Plenary Meeting and associated Working Groups (WGs) on April 1-5.

WG Meetings

Preceding the Plenary Committee meeting, meetings of ISO/ TC 178 WG 4 Safety Requirements and Risk Assessment were convened by David McColl (Canada), WG 5 Escalator Safety Requirements were convened by Edip Kaci (Germany), and WG 6 Evacuation and Lift Dimensions were convened by Ari Ketonen (Finland). The main purpose of these was to continue the work assigned to the WGs, prepare updates on the status of the work and develop positions for presentation to the Plenary Committee.

Plenary Meeting

The plenary meeting was opened by ISO/TC 178 Chair Dr. Gero Gschwendtner, who invited Sasha Shmiel of VDMA (German mechanical engineering association) to address the delegates. Shmiel welcomed all delegates to Frankfurt. He mentioned on behalf of the board that it was an honor for VDMA to host this meeting. He emphasized the importance of national, European and ISO standards to Germany and the world at large. He wished the delegates every success in their deliberations and hoped the meeting would meet their expectations and requirements.

Dr. Gerhard Steiger, head of mechanical engineering standards for DIN (German national organization for standardization) and manager of the department of standards at VDMA, added his welcome of the delegates. He elaborated that VDMA is the association of Germany’s engineering industry. It represents the interests of Germany’s large capital-goods sector, including machinery, plants, system suppliers, system integrators and service providers. VDMA has 27 sectorial units, from lifts to combustion engines, pumps, valves, complete machines and machine tools. The mechanical engineering standards department is one of the largest at VDMA. The fact that this department supports many secretariats at the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and ISO shows a strong commitment to standards development. VDMA has a comprehensive internal database for standards. The organization also drives innovation, particularly in new technologies such as smart manufacturing and additive manufacturing. VDMA is committed to harmonized European standards, as well as global harmonization whenever practical. Steiger wished the ISO/TC 178 members progress with their endeavors.

Gschwendtner thanked Shmiel and Steiger for their kind words and their contributions to and support of ISO. He thanked them for hosting the meeting and acknowledged their excellent organization of the meetings. He then summarized the history of standardization in Germany in the context of the general evolution of standards worldwide. It is worthy of note that the formation of the first industry association in Germany was in 1879. This organization evolved; in the process, other organizations were formed. VDMA was founded in 1892. It has its headquarters in Frankfurt and now represents around 3,200 corporate members, making it the largest industry association in Europe. The existence of industry organizations led to the formation of standards-writing bodies. DIN can trace its roots (via several name changes) to 1917.

Gschwendtner mentioned this was the 29th plenary meeting, the first having taken place in Paris in 1979. He welcomed all attendees and invited full participation. He extended a special welcome to first-time attendees. In this context, a warm welcome was extended to the Ethiopian delegation. Ethiopia has joined as an O-member. (O-members can observe the standards being developed and offer comments and advice, while P-members actively participate by voting on the standard at various stages of its development.) It is the third African country to gain membership into TC 178. Gschwendtner also welcomed the Swedish delegation, which was attending as a P-member, and representatives from the liaison organizations: the Pacific Asia Lift and Escalator Association, the European Lift Association, Small Business Standards and other attendees. Committee Manager of ISO/TC 178 Eva Contival conducted the rollcall: there were 56 attendees from 20 countries and three liaison organizations. The delegations included six attendees from the U.S. and two from Canada.

Gschwendtner presented a summary of ISO/TC 178 membership, marketing and key information. There are 55 member countries, of which 28 are P-members, and 27 are O-members. Poland, Sweden and Denmark are the latest of the former, and Ethiopia, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are the latest of the latter. The largest proportion of new-equipment installations is in the Asia-Pacific area. The worldwide installed base of elevator equipment exceeds 16 million units. The value of the world market for new equipment and service exceeds US$73 billion per annum.

Contival reported on behalf of the ISO/TC 178 secretariat and committee management on the work progress of TC 178, liaisons to various external committees and status of the systematic review of standards for 2019. She gave an update on the status of the documents in the preliminary, proposal, committee, enquiry, approval and publication stages of the standards development process. Contival reported on the liaisons with various CEN/ European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization/ISO/ International Electrotechnical Commission committees.

Gschwendtner introduced and welcomed ISO Technical Program Manager Anna Caterina Rossi. Rossi mentioned she had attended several TC 178 plenary meetings over the years and was glad to be of help. She mentioned she is in regular contact with Gschwendtner and Contival and is up to date on the issues of concern to the members.

Rossi mentioned that ISO was formed in 1947 and has developed more than 22,000 standards over the years. The ISO organization is engaged in the development of voluntary standards, the main benefit of which is to improve quality and best practices in industries. ISO recognizes that standards do not replace regulations and, thus, the adoption of standards in any country or jurisdiction is purely up to the jurisdiction. ISO does not try to influence countries or jurisdictions to adopt ISO standards.

Rossi gave a detailed presentation on several important issues relating to standards development under ISO. She elaborated on the role of project management and how this could help expedite the standards-development process. She mentioned that, in the 1960s, standards could take up to 10 years to develop. Nowadays, they are developed much more rapidly, while their quality remains at a high level. The development process includes a structured method for initiating and executing a standards- development project.

Reports From WGs

The conveners of all WGs provided reports on the activities within their groups and the status of the projects with which they were engaged. The reports were informative and gave the committee a comprehensive understanding of the issues being embraced by the WGs. In general, the projects are proceeding to schedule and in line with the resolutions approved at preceding Plenary Committee meetings. Action plans have been developed for cases in which difficulties that could affect the outcome or schedule are being experienced. The WGs requested support for several initiatives, which resulted in various resolutions.


The meeting was very productive, with the active participation of attendees resulting in the approval of 21 resolutions. Some of the more noteworthy resolutions are outlined below.

Risk Assessment

Following the actions undertaken as requested through Resolution 005/2017 (New Delhi), TC 178 made the decision to open a new work item (NWI) for WG 4 to revise ISO 14798 to:

  • Include risks related to building interfaces and environment
  • Work with experts from WG5 and WG8
  • Address risk-reduction contribution of SIL-rated circuits
  • Align it with ISO 8100-1/2 and EN 115

ISO 14798 will be renumbered as ISO 14798-1: Lifts (elevators), escalators and moving walks — risk assessment and reduction methodology – Part 1: General principles.

A further resolution was approved for the registration of an NWI for the drafting of ISO TR 14798-2: Lifts (elevators), escalators and moving walks — risk assessment and reduction methodology — Part 2: Guidance and examples that will provide guidance for the application of ISO 14798-1.

A resolution was also taken requesting WGs 5 and 4 cooperate to accomplish the work related to the Risk Assessment documents.

Your author was appointed Task Group leader for both work items. A multidisciplinary team of experts will be assembled to carry out this important task.

ISO Prescriptive Standards

The publication of ISO 8100-1/2 and ISO TS 8100-3 took place simultaneously after many years of hard work. This was an important accomplishment and involved the participation of experts from around the world. A resolution was taken to express gratitude to the leaders of this important achievement, namely: David McColl, Christian de Mas Latrie, Ian Jones and Esfandiar Gharibaan. Their support, dedication and diligence were invaluable in ensuring a favorable outcome.


Given that the current situation of the worldwide market shows that cybersecurity is an important topic, ISO TC 178 resolved to start the development of a new standard on cybersecurity. The number and title will be as follows: ISO 8102-20 “Electrical requirements for lifts, escalators and moving walks – Part 20: Cybersecurity.” A ballot will be launched for the registration of an NWI.

The resolution was approved with one abstention from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as this issue had not yet been discussed by the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG). (The resolution was unanimously approved at a subsequent meeting of the U.S. TAG.)

With increasing interaction of building systems, including elevators, with the internet, the threats to elevator operation become more likely. It is, thus, important that a method of threat analysis and preventive action be considered at an early stage. This new standard will address such issues.

New Digital Technologies

ISO/TC 178 resolved to set up an ad-hoc group (AHG) to conduct a study in the field of “new technologies” dealing with digitalization, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence to be used within lifts and escalators. The AHG is charged with making a proposal to ISO/TC 178 at the next plenary meeting. This proposal should include:

  • How ISO/TC 178 defines its position in this technology
  • Envisaged work items to be registered
  • Organization structure, including the possible establishment of new WGs

ISO TC 178 will launch a call for convener and experts to start this work.

The resolution was approved with one abstention from ANSI, as this issue had not yet been discussed by the U.S. TAG. (The resolution was unanimously approved at a subsequent meeting of the U.S. TAG.)


ISO TC 178 resolved to appoint Schiffner (DIN) as new convener of WG 11: Methodology for the Improvement of Safety of Existing Passenger and Goods Passenger Lifts. Secretariat support will be provided by Dieter Unger (DIN).

Barry Blackaby, representing ANSI, indicated he would no longer be attending ISO plenary meetings and was resigning as convener of WG 10: Energy Measurement Standard. A resolution was taken declaring that the delegates and members of ISO TC 178 express their gratitude to Blackaby for the excellent work done, including the successful leadership of WG 10.

Subsequently, Ari Kattainen was elected convener of the Cybersecurity WG and Kari Suihkonen was elected convener of the AHG on New Digital Technologies.

Future Meetings

A resolution to gratefully accept the proposal from the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) to host ISO/TC 178 and its WGs for the next plenary meeting in the country was approved. The WG and plenary meetings will take place on October 19-23, 2020, with the plenary starting on October 22. SAC will announce the meeting place in April 2020. Possible venues for the 2022 meeting will be considered later. (Plenary meetings are held every 18 months.)

Closing Remarks From the Chair

Gschwendtner again thanked VDMA for hosting the meetings and for the efficient organization. He commended ISO/TC 178 on the diligence of its members and on the progress that was made. He thanked the conveners and WG members for their hard work and commitment, as well as the delegates and the guests for their participation. Gschwendtner also thanked the resolution drafting committee (De Mas Latrie, Jones and Contival) and Rossi for her insights and guidance. He also thanked Contival in her capacity as committee manager for her ongoing hard work and dedication.

Implications for the Future and Concluding Thoughts

Overall, the meeting was very productive and successful. Much work remains ahead as the state of the art advances. The organization of the meeting and its seamless flow was a tribute to VDMA, the organizing team, the leadership of Gschwendtner and the support of Contival. The leadership and efforts of the WGs was also a strong contributing factor to the quality and success of the meeting.

Your author has attended many plenary meetings, as well as numerous WG meetings, since 1990. Much progress has been made during this time. Many standards of great importance to the elevator industry spanning a wide field of subjects and applications have been developed over the years. Such standards are voluntary and available for adoption or reference by interested jurisdictions or standards bodies around the world. ISO/TC 178 has been proactive in creating state-of-the-art standards that represent the cutting edge of elevator technology. Among these are performance-based standards, conformity- assessment standards and risk-assessment methodology, which are very helpful in safe, innovative product development. In the same vein, standards for programmable electronic systems in safety-related applications (PESSRA) for lifts, PESSRA for escalators and moving walks, and SIL-rated devices support an ever growing demand for electronic-based safety systems and devices. Its energy-measurement and ride-quality-measurement standards are further examples of the proactive culture of ISO TC 178.

VDMA has its headquarters in Frankfurt and now represents around 3,200 corporate members, making it the largest industry association in Europe.

With this background, it is not surprising that ISO TC 178 is taking the initiative to develop standards for cybersecurity and new digital technologies as they impact the elevator industry. It is anticipated that this culture will continue as the future unfolds, thus ensuring the ongoing relevance and importance of ISO in the field of elevator standards.

It is also noteworthy that the membership of ISO TC 178 and the participation in standards development has broadened over the years to include increasing involvement from the Asia-Pacific area, the Middle East and Africa. This participation augers well for the future of ISO TC 178 as a global contributor to the spectrum of elevator standards.

With the meeting completed and the resolutions and plans decided, your author spent a quiet moment admiring the beautiful Frankfurt skyline from the banks of the Main River at dusk. The inspirational words of Goethe came to mind (with some liberty in the translation):

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply our knowledge. Willingness is not enough; we must act. Whatever you can dream, you can achieve if you begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Your author could not help but muse that Goethe would have been pleased with what has been achieved in the place of his birth.

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Louis Bialy

Louis Bialy

PE, is president of Louis Bialy and Associates LLC. He has 53 years of engineering experience, including 39 years in the elevator industry and a 33-year career with Otis. He is an active member of and chair of the US TAG to ISO/ TC 178. He serves on the ASME Board on Safety Codes and Standards and on the ASME A17 Standards Committee. He holds a BSc (Eng.) from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and an MEng. from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. He was 1991 ASME Distinguished Engineer of the Year, the 2008 ASME Safety Codes and Standards Medalist and recipient of the 2012 ASME Distinguished Services Award. He has been elected as an ASME fellow.
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Elevator World | November 2019 Cover