One of the many pleasures of leading this 114-year-old organization is the opportunity to engage our volunteer members at technical committee meetings or at their places of work to hear firsthand about their experiences collaborating in standards development through ASTM International.
Recognizing the tremendous value of this feedback, we broadened our discussions with our members by conducting a survey in 2012 to gauge overall member satisfaction. More than 3,200 members responded, representing diverse views from 20 different industries.
Through our member interactions and the survey, we continue to hear that ASTM is on the right track by investing in our cutting-edge information technology-driven standards development platform, promoting participation in our process, and taking numerous other steps to better meet their standards development related needs. This feedback is invaluable to the ASTM board of directors and staff as we strive to keep our finger on the pulse of our members, the evolving needs of our stakeholders, and the changing dynamics of the marketplace.
As we reflect on 2012, the words innovation and productivity come to mind. All 12,350 standards in ASTM’s electronic publishing system were converted to extensible markup language, or XML, enabling better searching and indexing while enhancing document preparation and collaboration. Companion instructional videos were added to several standards to clarify test procedures for users. We launched a mobile app for iPhone, iPod and Android devices - putting important ASTM meeting and venue information at attendees’ fingertips. Finally, a helpful tool called “MyAccount” was added to the members only section of the ASTM website to help keep our members organized and informed.
Several new initiatives were launched over the year to increase standards education and awareness. A new academic offering, ASTM Professor’s Toolkit, was introduced to help university professors include technical standards as part of their engineering and business curricula and promote awareness of standards in the classroom. Two new online, peer-reviewed journals were launched - Advances in Civil Engineering Materials and Materials Performance and Characterization. New interactive, online courses focused on concrete construction material testing expanded ASTM’s professional training opportunities and position the Society to add to our e-learning offerings in the near future.
Sustainability and protection of the environment continued to be areas of tremendous interest and growth. ASTM International became a Program Operator for the development of Product Category Rules and Environmental Product Declarations in response to the growing need to understand the real environmental impact of products from raw material extraction to disposal and recycling. Regulators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture referenced ASTM standards as they work to mitigate the environmental and health impacts of wastewater and expand the use of products and packaging made from biobased content. In the construction sector, 46 ASTM standards addressing issues such as green roof systems, solar reflectance and water conservancy were cited in the 2012 International Green Construction Code. Members and staff promoted ASTM’s impressive work in this area by participating in a green buildings workshop in London jointly sponsored by ASTM and the Royal Institute of British Architects. On the standards development end, new ASTM technical committee activities include initiatives to facilitate the development and use of sustainable manufacturing processes, more efficient recycling and reuse of rare earth materials, sustainability practices in the manufacture and use of hydraulic cement, and a safe and efficient course for the future of hydraulic fracturing.
Safety remains at the core of ASTM International’s vibrant standards development activities for juvenile and consumer products. Working in collaboration with government authorities, consumer representatives and manufacturers, new 2012 ASTM safety standards address baby sling carriers, potential strangulation hazards associated with baby monitors and the safe use of children’s air inflatable play devices. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that it will mandate provisions of ASTM standards addressing the safety of infant swings, the integrity and safety of play yards, and marking and tracing gypsum panels used in building construction. In the spirit of collaboration, CPSC and Health Canada released a joint 2012 statement regarding their intent to work together with ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products to address emerging toy safety hazards.
By year’s end, ASTM had signed an additional three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with national and regional standards bodies, bringing the total number to 78. The MOU program facilitates greater cooperation in standards development around the world, further emphasizing our position as a leading member of the global standards community. This and other global outreach initiatives like the Standards Expert Program promote greater knowledge transfer between ASTM and national standards bodies and foster more effective working relationships that help our members and stakeholders to accomplish their global standards objectives.
Research by ASTM staff in 2012 found that just over 50 percent of the members of ASTM International technical committees work for small- to medium-sized companies. The participation of experts from small and medium companies in ASTM’s standards development is crucial, particularly since they provide a majority of private sector jobs while accounting for half or more of gross domestic product in Europe and the U.S. Factors such as ASTM’s Web-based online standards development tools − including online forums, virtual meetings and electronic balloting − were cited by our members as key enabling technologies to support small business participation.
ASTM International’s mission is to support the work of our members and make sure that they have what they need to continue their tremendous societal contributions to health, safety and the environment. Our job is to constantly look for ways to stay relevant, increase efficiency, and do whatever it takes to enhance the standardization experience. To that end, we made a particular point in 2012 of listening to, learning from and responding to our members and stakeholders.
Feedback such as this will continue to guide ASTM International on the path to meeting the global needs and demands of the future.