• About us
  • Story 11

2010–2020: A look towards the future

The SNV centenary provided the perfect opportunity to look back on 10 decades of standardization work and standard development. Over the past 100 years, the SNV has made valuable and enduring contributions, resulting in the continuous optimization of collaboration across different businesses and countries.

Much has changed over the course of a century, but something has remained the same: the SNV continues to engage with future-relevant topics with the same dedication it has shown throughout its existence. The SNV programme managers ensure that topics such as food authenticity, blockchain technology, energy, the circular economy and additive manufacturing, etc., are aligned with the needs of the economy and society.

The task of the SNV programme managers is to identify future trends and coordinate standardization projects from the outset. They organize kick-off meetings, get experts on board, explain the standardization process to interested parties and assist the project work of the respective committee, which – depending on the topic – comprises approximately 10 to 50 experts and meets usually once a year. The programme managers are responsible for stakeholder management, and put relevant experts in touch with one another. The programme managers’ aim is to break down silo mentalities and forge a dialogue between the various stakeholders.

Which topics of the future are the programme managers currently tackling? Four programme managers and their line manager discuss some of the topics they are overseeing at the moment.

Lea Leibundgut, Programme Manager Foods

1. You are overseeing the topic of food authenticity. When did the standardization work in this field begin?
Lea Leibundgut: There is a technical committee at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that has been dealing with foods since 1947. The committee and its subgroups have already published 858 standards. International experts within the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) have been working on the topic of food authenticity since 2016. It isn’t just a single standard that is being worked on in this field, but an entire series of standards, as every food item features a different composition. When it comes to counterfeit foods, it is sometimes the case that you don’t even know what you are looking for, unlike with pesticide residues or other contaminants such as metals.

2. What is the aim of your work?
Lea Leibundgut: In the field of food authenticity, the aim is to develop standards for the methodologies used in proving the authenticity of foods. These standards are intended to provide clarity and transparency as to how proof of authenticity can be ensured, so that Swiss producers can be sure that their raw materials and semi-finished products aren’t counterfeit, and that consumers can trust that, for example, their extra-virgin olive oil isn’t in fact warm-pressed oil.

3. Why is your topic relevant for the future?
Lea Leibundgut: In the Western world, nutrition isn’t merely the sating of hunger. Nutrition means enjoyment and a source of identity, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, for example. Switzerland’s citizens are willing to pay more for better quality. Not only can counterfeit foods be of inferior quality, they can also be hazardous to people’s health. As a result of globalization, raw materials and semi-finished products are imported over long distances, and the buyers and purchasers don’t know each other personally. Instead of having to show blind faith, customers and producers want the certainty that they are getting what they paid for. There are already blockchain solutions available for the traceability of foods.  

4. Where do you think the greatest challenge lies?
Lea Leibundgut: We need to find robust and definitive testing methods for a variety of foods. These testing methods also need to be cost-effective in their application.

Your contact person for further information:
, Tel: +41 52 224 54 54

Melanie Hasler, Programme Manager Blockchain

1. You are overseeing the topic of blockchain. When did the standardization work in this field begin?
Melanie Hasler: The ISO/TC 307 “Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT)” was set up in 2016. Since then, 43 countries have been actively involved in the international standardization work. Switzerland is one of these countries. Some 13 countries sit on the committee as “observers”. Since the committee’s foundation, a technical report has been published, entitled Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies – Overview of and interactions between smart contracts in blockchain and distributed ledger technology systems. Ten further international standardization projects are currently being developed.

Last month, a technical committee (TC) was also set up in Europe for the topic of blockchain/DLT. The European committee will particularly focus on the compatibility of this new technology with the provisions of European legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The first two working groups within the TC will engage with the challenging topic of blockchain/DLT, the GDPR and electronic identity (e-ID).

At the national level, the standardization project “DLT-for-Power” was launched this month. This is being jointly overseen by the Swiss energy sector and the SNV, and will define a DLT-based power management and accounting system. The aim of standardizing the DLT-based communication platform is to facilitate the compatibility of the various DLT applications among all the participating stakeholders. Any interested party can participate and get involved.

2. What is the aim of your work?
Melanie Hasler: Interoperability between the various providers, platforms and applications is very important in this context. Standardization in the field of blockchain/DLT helps to reassure producers, consumers, the economy and society that the technology they are using or have developed also has a future, and that it is, or will be, compatible with other systems.

3. Why is your topic relevant for the future?
Melanie Hasler: With the digital currency bitcoin, blockchain technology garnered international attention as a form of the so-called distributed ledger technologies (DLT). Virtually no one speaks of new digital business models without taking DLT and blockchain into account. There is in fact great dynamism in the development of new, DLT-based, decentralized solutions.

4. Where do you think the greatest challenge lies?
Melanie Hasler: The many experts in this field must be well coordinated, and the mission must be unambiguous. This requires clear communication.

Your contact person for further information:
, Tel: +41 52 224 54 54

Lukas Möhr, Programme Manager Environment

1. When did work on standardization within the field of the circular economy begin?
Lukas Möhr: The ISO/TC 323 «Circular economy» is a new technical committee at the ISO. It was set up only in 2018 and has therefore not yet published a complete standard. At the moment, the committee is preparing the ground at international level so that work on developing a standard can begin in the near future. Experts from 58 different countries are involved in this process.

2. What is the aim of your work?
Lukas Möhr: In the field of the circular economy, standardization can serve as an impetus for the harmonization of the various endeavours. Several stakeholders are launching appeals, or even specific measures, against the linear economy, which increases the waste of resources. However, if these efforts are pulling in different directions, their effect is dispelled. Standardization helps to get everyone working together in unison.

3. Why is your topic relevant for the future?
Lukas Möhr: Climate change is a topic that concerns not only the population of Switzerland, but also people in virtually all parts of the world. Experts are seeking a variety of solutions to reduce the effects that our various living conditions are having on the environment. One potential solution under discussion is the circular economy. Here, the aim is to fully, or partially, re-process products after their use so that they can be re-used or utilised as a new raw material. In this context, the focus is on deceleration and closing the gaps in the material and energy cycles. One example of this is the durable construction, re-use or recycling of products.

4. Where do you think the greatest challenge lies?
Lukas Möhr: Currently, everyone is talking about the topic of the environment and the circular economy, in particular. This is why it’s important that the topic is treated seriously and not stretched beyond its limits. It is crucial to not push it too far, too soon; otherwise, the motivation behind it will decline after a while and potential solutions come to nothing. Moreover, it’s important that the requirements be introduced gradually. Introducing too many at once would be counterproductive. Yet we mustn’t dawdle, either.

Your contact person for further information:
, Tel: +41 52 224 54 54

Barbara Guder, Programme Manager Energy

1. When did work on standardization within the field of energy and gas supply begin?
Barbara Guder: I supervise standardization projects in the field of energy and gas supply as well as the fuel station network. In these established sectors, international standards have been developed and applied for decades now. The topic of energy is very multifaceted, and the standards are therefore developed in different standardization committees, often separated according to energy source. For example, we have the international ISO/TC 28 “Petroleum and related products and fuels and lubricants from natural or synthetic sources”, and the ISO/TC 193 “Natural gas”. There is even the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for electrical energy. The energy sector as a whole is undergoing fundamental change at present. In order to achieve the climate targets, the current energy system must be transformed in a shift away from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. This technological transformation can only be achieved with the aid of standardization.

2. What is the aim of your work?
Barbara Guder: Decarbonizing the energy system and integrating volatile renewable energies poses a great challenge. Compared to today’s centralized system, the energy system of the future will be a decentralized, flexible and intelligent system. The traditional boundaries between the electricity, gas and heat sectors are being increasingly broken down. To allow such an intelligent energy network to work seamlessly, the many different components and interfaces must be properly coordinated with one another. Around the world, experts are developing new power-to-X technologies, intelligent measuring devices and sensors as well as innovative storage technologies. And the quality requirements for renewable energy sources such as biogas, biofuel oil and hydrogen are also being set out in standards.

3. Why is your topic relevant for the future?
Barbara Guder: Climate change is a global challenge, and people around the world are developing programmes and catalogues of measures to prevent further global warming and reduce CO2 emissions. Since the building sector and mobility are fundamental contributors to CO2 emissions, these are the primary areas where people are trying to effect change and forge new paths. The energy system of the future must be conceptualised more broadly than before and will be much more linked-up. The electricity, gas and heat networks are drawing together, and buildings and cars are becoming part of the future energy system. Buildings will produce electricity with PV systems, and cars will serve as energy repositories or consume renewable hydrogen using fuel cell propulsion systems.

4. Where do you think the greatest challenge lies?
Barbara Guder: In the same way that technologies are growing ever closer together and interdisciplinary solutions are required, organizations and companies must transform themselves and join networks and collaborations. A shift from a silo mentality to interdisciplinary teams is needed. This poses a great challenge for the energy sector, which is somewhat conservative and whose operations have hitherto been strictly separated according to energy source. The markets are also differently regulated, such as the electricity and gas markets. Legislators are required here to issue new, market-appropriate regulations. Another challenge is the fact that Switzerland is embedded in a European energy market (an energy network) and cannot establish any isolated solutions.

When it comes to the integration of renewable gases like biogas and hydrogen into the energy network, the national standardization committee INB NK 162 “Gas” plays a key role. Some 20 experts are currently active within the standardization committee, most of them representatives of professional associations. We would still like to see more representatives from industry and the research sector here. In the area of international hydrogen standardization, Switzerland is only a passive observer country at the moment, unfortunately. The aim for 2020 is for Switzerland to adopt a more active role in the standardization process and bring its expertise to bear with the international standardization endeavours.

Your contact person for further information:
Barbara Guder, , Tel: +41 52 224 54 14

Marcel Knecht, Head of Standardization and International Relations, Programme Manager SWISSMEM Topics

1. When did work on standardization within the field of additive manufacturing begin?
Marcel Knecht: The ISO/TC 261 «Additive manufacturing» was founded in 2011. Since then, 25 countries have been actively involved in the international standardization work. Switzerland is one of these countries. Eight countries sit on the committee as “observers”. Since the TC was founded, 13 standards have been published. Some 24 further international standardization projects are currently being developed. The majority of these standardization projects are being developed in collaboration with the ASTM organization in the USA.

At the European level, the CEN/TC 439 was set up in 2015. The European committee isn’t currently working on its own standardization projects, but is instead using its expertise to assist the ISO.

At the national level, the experts from the SWISSMEM/NK 1261 «Rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing» are also contributing their expertise to the ISO standardization committee.

2. What is the aim of your work?
Marcel Knecht: Additive manufacturing is still very much a fledgling technology that is believed to have a great future. During an initial phase, standards for fundamental requirements and terminology were developed. The new standardization projects are now focusing on technical details such as testing methods, post-processing methods, data formats, etc. The primary goal here is to improve the interoperability and comparability of the products.

3. Why is your topic relevant for the future?
Marcel Knecht: Additive manufacturing is highly relevant for the future. Additive manufacturing technology makes it possible to produce components with completely new structures and geometries that are impossible to achieve with conventional manufacturing processes such as milling, turning and drilling. Material strengths and component geometries can be precision-attuned to the stresses they will be placed under, allowing for the production of extremely light and robust components. The process is also highly flexible. High-tech companies can produce components for prototypes within 24 hours, and this massively reduces the development time for new products.

4. Where do you think the greatest challenge lies?
Marcel Knecht: As there are vast numbers of start-ups in the field of additive manufacturing, it takes great effort to explain the benefits of engaging with standardization. Such engagement is often lacking because of the limited human resources of these fledgling companies. Yet it is crucial for start-ups in particular to stay abreast of the standardization projects.

Your contact person for further information:
Marcel Knecht, , Tel: +41 52 224 54 27

Your contribution is required!
Would you like to participate in the international development of standards? As a member of the Standards Community you actively shape the future technical framework conditions in your sector and thereby generate added value for your company. You benefit from a strong international network, access to knowledge platforms and interesting discounts on standards and seminars.

The benefits of SNV membership at a glance: get more information here

Your contact person for a SNV-Membership:
Birgit Kupferschmid, , Tel: +41 52 224 54 18

Please calculate 7 plus 7.

All your data will be treated as strictly confidential and will only be used for the purposes of answering your query. For details on how your data will be processed, please refer to our Privacy Statement.

Back to top
Languages available