IEC 81346 Reference Designations

Author: Andreas Beyer | Last edited: 27.07.2020

The International Electrotechnical Commission has published a number of standards relevant to the creation of documents, drawings and referencing of equipment. Machine builders and especially electrical engineers should be familiar with the reference system. For those new to this, here is a brief explanation.

When encouraging the creation of documents using the methods described in IEC 81346, it is often wrongly assumed that the difference lies only in the use of certain symbols. However, this is not the case. The IEC 81346 documentation and referencing system is a comprehensive approach that describes symbols, drawing and layout techniques and equipment references, as well as enabling the identification and classification of documents and their organization. This approach thus goes beyond pure documentation and enables a complete description of all devices based on the three essential aspects, function, product and location in a hierarchical order.

This short introduction cannot cover the entire topic. Here I like to refer to the common CAE tools that should have implemented this. Thus, the application can be understood intuitively within a real project.

A comprehensive application guide can be found under