February 15, 2023
By David Gordon, President, Channel Marketing Group
February marks ETIM North America’s third anniversary as an association and we thought it pertinent to ask Mary Shaw, Executive Director of ETIM North America, to share an update with the industry. This is a condensed version of a document she shared with the association’s members.
If you are not familiar, ETIM is the only global, language independent product classification system for six markets, inclusive of the electrical industry. While the model originated in Europe, companies do not need to engage in international commerce to gain benefit from the model as it is designed to simplify, and essentially “code”, the attributes of a product into an alpha numeric process that is easy to pass through systems.
In layman’s terms, and for those who use / recall, it is a much more robust version of the “old” Trade Service commodity codes … or perhaps a version of a UPC number but for a product category.
Once adopted, the ETIM class code, some applications include:
- Distributors using it for more advanced product categorization to collect sales / purchasing information.
- Distributors can use the information to assist in developing pricing models.
- Aggregating product sales information across platforms / the industry becomes more accurate.
- The opportunities to enhance search and product categorization for eCommerce / websites is much easier.
- Online comparison tools become more accurate.
- Ensuring accurate online information for multi-lingual sites becomes much simpler as only a translator is needed for a website
- And, yes, AI applications become feasible
ETIM is a comprehensive, yet simple, solution to product classification and, is a well-established model that only needs some refinement for the North American market (terminology, specific product categories.) Mary and her team of volunteers are quickly preparing the industry for the opportunity.
ETIM North America Membership Update
Much occurred with ETIM North America, and ETIM International, over the past year, and we continue to focus on enhancing the ETIM model for the North American electrical market.
To date we have 36 members. In 2022, the following companies joined the initiative:
- Priority Wire
- Service Wire
- Omni Cable
- TradeTech Solutions
This enabled us to launch Product Expert Groups to support the Wire & Cable, Conduit & Fittings, and Enclosures categories.
ETIM North America 2022 Activities
Our manufacturer and distributor member Product Experts reviewed and modified (where needed) the ETIM English to North American terminology, for over 1000 ETIM Classes and their 9,500 Features and Values. This is over 33% of the Classes in the latest ETIM release!
This includes products that fall into the following product areas:
- Power distribution
- Automation & Drives
- Lighting Controls
- Fuses & Relays
- Circuit Breakers
- Conduit & Fittings
- Wire & Cable
Through member support we held over 50 Product Expert Group calls.
Additionally, for members who already classify their products utilizing the ETIM model and make this information available to their US and Canadian distributors, their teams requested 45 changes that were needed to the global model. These were mostly for new products, but some were for Features and/or Values specifically for North American products. Those changes were submitted and approved by ETIM International over the summer and were included in the latest release.
As our Product Experts continue their review, they are expanding to cover additional product areas, based on their areas of expertise. New areas include:
- Wire/cable management (trunking/duct/ladder/ tray/boxes/heat shrink)
- Surge protection & grounding
Through the use of an online tool, the review process for the Product Experts was streamlined and provides a more efficient way for task group members to provide their input, enabling them to optimize their time together to gain consensus on class refinement and approval.
We also introduced a new level of membership to solicit further support from members. This level, called Sustaining Member, enables members to provide additional support to help accelerate refinement of the model.
ETIM International in 2022
I attended the ETIM International General Assembly meeting in September.
Key topics included:
- Board member elections
- Relocation of the organization to The Netherlands
- ETIM MC (Modelling Class) expansion plan
- Smart Goals Roadmap for 2023-2024
- ETIM xChange development
- Status of the 9.0 release
Additionally, I was re-appointed as Vice President of ETIM International, as the Executive Committee felt it was important that North America be represented on the global board. Having a “seat at the table” enables ETIM North America to help set the global agenda.
At the beginning of 2022, the model expanded into Australia / New Zealand with a new chapter and there are plans to open a chapter in Brazil.
In early December, version 9.0 of the model was released for all users.
This new release contains:
- 5,554 Classes (2,941 electrical)
- 33,684 Synonyms
- 16,728 Features
- 15,656 Values
Members can download it from the website (www.etim-na.org), in ISF, CSV and Excel formats, with metric or metric and imperial measures.
ETIM International also released supporting files to assist ETIM members. Members can contact me to receive these. These support files cover:
- ETIM 8.0 to 9.0 Class Mapping
- ETIM 8.0 to 9.0 Detail Mapping
- Successor/Deleted Classes
Once the mapping between the latest eC@ss version and ETIM version 9.0 is available, members will be able to contact me to receive this information.
For members who are using ETIM BMEcat, ETIM International has updated the Certification tool (members only) to include version 9.0. They can now validate their XML-files against the ETIM BMEcat Guideline V3.1/V4.0/V5.0 and the classification model for releases ETIM-6.0, ETIM-7.0, ETIM-8.0 and ETIM-9.0.
Work is continuing for ETIM International’s new exchange format (ETIM xChange), which will replace the ETIM BMEcat 5.0 that saw its sunset in 2021. This new format will facilitate the exchange of master data and ETIM data, in JSON and other necessary structures.
Looking into 2023
In 2023 we remain focused on building out the model with North America electrical products.
Our 2023 areas of focus include:
- With the current membership, further refinement of product categories that are important to them.
- Continuing to recruit members in our existing product categories to ensure all segments of these Product Expert Groups are covered. Further, more members will also help in driving adoption.
- Additionally, we would like to expand with other electrical Product Expert Groups. Other categories of importance include lighting, boxes and fittings, tools and testers and other electrician supplies. We’ll focus our efforts on product categories that represent the greatest percent of sales for electrical distributors.
- Promoting use cases / the value of ETIM and how it can contribute to the electrical industry.
The ETIM model remains the most robust, yet simplest, product classification system in the electrical industry and the only one with worldwide acceptance. Today, the model is utilized, or in development, in 26 countries representing over 50% of electrical component sales. With ongoing member assistance, we seek to help the electrical industry accelerate digital adoption, and this can only occur with a robust, common, digital language.
Over the past three years much has been accomplished by ETIM North America.
And, as an FYI, I have been on the Board of Directors of the association. It has been a pleasure working with Mary as the organization has grown.