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Word from the Chairman
ASTM's Vision for the Future

The following is adapted from a speech delivered by ASTM Chairman Richard J. Schulte at the ASTM Annual Business Meeting held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 26.

Each year about this time, ASTM provides an overview of the state of the Society to its members. I’d like to give you a snapshot of where ASTM is today, but also provide you with an understanding of the vision that the Society has for the future, and some of the initiatives that are in place to implement that vision.

A New Identity

The most visible change in the past 12 months has been the name change to ASTM International. Last year, the board voted unanimously to clarify our name and clear up several, century-long misnomers. The “American Society for Testing and Materials,” ASTM, has never been just “American,” never been truly a “Society,” and it provides so much more than just testing standards for materials. From day one, ASTM has operated with a global vision due to its open process of standards development and through the world-wide application of its standards, which cover a broad array of technical and non-technical areas. Our logo reflects the new name and the tagline, “Standards Worldwide,” reinforces the global brand.

We know very well, however, that logos and slogans mean little if they are not supported by action. ASTM International not only continues to operate in a global fashion, but is also stepping up its international efforts. I will say more about this topic a little later.

Laying Plans for the Future

In this calendar year, ASTM is pursuing three objectives to remain a world leader in the timely development and distribution of high-quality, market-relevant standards for global use:

• First, ASTM is striving to have industry understand that it can and should continue to rely on multiple approaches to the development of standards for global use.
• Second, we are striving to have the best-in-class processes for standards development and delivery.
• Third, ASTM has set out to eliminate every obstacle to the application and use of ASTM standards wherever they can be useful to industry, governments and consumers.

In order to achieve these objectives, we are pursuing four main corporate initiatives based in technology, globalization, corporate development, and communication.

Technology Initiative

ASTM has been at the forefront in the use of technology to enhance standards development and delivery. Through its Digital Path initiative, ASTM is creating a digital workflow that begins with the first draft of a standard and lasts until the approved standard is delivered to the customer. The digital path enables ASTM to:

• Publish and deliver new and revised standards shortly after they are approved;
• Increase worldwide participation in standards development by using the Internet; and
• Capture all ASTM standards work in the drafting stage and display the status of this work on ASTM’s Web site.

Several Web enhancements have also helped members develop standards efficiently. Members now have access to personalized committee pages that allow them to link into main committee pages, minutes, rosters, and ballots. Members can also attach comments and negative votes to electronic ballot submittals, and for the first time, they can view their current and past voting records online.

Globalization Initiative

ASTM’s globalization initiative involves increasing international input into the development of ASTM standards, as well as expanding the accessibility of ASTM standards to the global community.

In November of last year, an Open House was held at ASTM Headquarters in which the leaders of the national standards bodies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada engaged in two days of excellent dialogue on standards. Twenty-four nations were represented.

With a focus on developing countries, ASTM has signed memorandums of understanding with the national standards bodies in nine nations outside North America. The MOUs provide these standards bodies with a full set of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, participation on any of ASTM’s technical committees, and information on all ASTM standards actions. In return, the standards bodies will adopt ASTM standards where possible, provide local access to ASTM standards, and identify and link industry leaders and technical experts with ASTM technical committees.

Our global outreach efforts extend well beyond MOU arrangements to plans that both increase ASTM’s visibility and, more importantly, provide services to the world community of standards developers and users. Examples of recent outreach efforts include:

• The most recent ASTM board of directors meeting was held in Mexico City. In addition, ASTM co-hosted, with Mexican technical organizations, seminars addressing construction and steel standards for professionals working in those areas.
• Many ASTM technical committees are seeking and finding increased global participation, in particular Committees D30 on Composite Materials, F24 on Amusement Rides, and D01 on Paint and Related Coatings, Materials, and Applications.
An extensive donation of ASTM technical books was distributed in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Philippines, and Guatemala.
• Representatives from several national standards bodies visited ASTM headquarters this past year, and ASTM sent a small delegation to the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
• The Japanese Standards Association published a 200-page comprehensive book on ASTM in its overseas series.

Corporate Development Initiative

Another key initiative, corporate development, involves attracting new industries, increasing the number of members and customers we serve, and developing technical content. In order to carry out these initiatives, relationships among all ASTM staff positions were examined. Many staff members have taken newly created positions within the organization and new positions have been added to strengthen corporate marketing and development efforts.

In terms of technical committees, we are pleased that three new industry sectors have chosen ASTM to meet their standards development objectives.

ASTM Committee F36 on Technology and Underground Utilities was formed to create standards for optical fiber cable installations in underground utilities. By deploying optical fiber networks inside underground utility systems, such as sewer and natural gas pipelines, the need to cut and excavate city streets could be substantially reduced. The new committee, which will develop standards to help ensure public safety and the quality of deployments, is made up of a diverse range of international stakeholders.

Also in 2001, Committee F10 on Livestock, Meat, and Poultry Evaluation Systems was formed. The efforts of this new committee will bring needed standardization to the evaluation of livestock, meat, and poultry for a variety of criteria, from fat content and marbling to pH value and water holding capacity. The 68 committee members represent meat processors, livestock producers, equipment manufacturers, the U.S. government, state weights and measures departments, and academia.

Through the work of 82 members, new Committee F35 on Compatibility of Machine Tool Components with Industrial Lubricants will focus on the interaction of lubricants and fluids with machine tool parts. Standardization is expected to improve operator safety and cut costs across various industries.

Communications Initiative

Through communications efforts, ASTM conveys the scope of the Society as a whole and seeks to increase awareness of particular standardization activities. We have and will continue to focus on the attributes of ASTM standards that really matter in today’s global business environment, namely technical quality and market relevance. Through communications, ASTM makes its members and others aware of the dynamics of the marketplace and how political issues might affect the ASTM standards development process. Our goal is to eliminate any barriers to our standards’ global use and application.

One of the major ways we have conveyed this message is through Jim Thomas’ column in SN, “Plain Talk for a New Generation.” While the column speaks to our members, we are well aware that SN reaches the offices of corporations, government agencies, and standards experts around the world. Through Jim’s words, the ASTM message is heard loud and clear the world over. “Plain Talk” has been an effective vehicle for connecting with the membership and stating ASTM’s viewpoints and positions on important topics.

Increasingly, informational materials on ASTM are being developed in languages other than English. For example, the news release announcing the name change was distributed around the world in eight languages. Plans are under way to include non-U.S. trade press titles in lists that staff maintains for media relevant to each to technical committee.

Additionally, ASTM launched a newsletter specifically for its customers, Access ASTM International, in 2001. It’s an attractive, four-color piece that is intended to keep the many thousands of ASTM customers informed about the activities of the Society. Access is published twice a year. This year, Spanish and Japanese editions of the newsletter have also been published.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

In 2001, a survey conducted for ASTM by The Gallup Organization showed a very high level of satisfaction among our members and customers. Regarding the ASTM standard, most respondents indicated that ASTM documents are widely used in their industries, and that they reflect the best technology and industry consensus.

While we were pleased with these results, we know we cannot rest on our laurels. I hope that this report has given you a sense of how ASTM plans to continue being an ever more responsive and forward-looking organization. One thing is for certain—ASTM International will continue to evolve in step with the needs of industry, government and consumers. In a few years, when the next large-scale survey is conducted, we intend for our customers and members to be exceptionally happy with ASTM’s performance despite a new environment that will have shapes, players and directions that we cannot foresee today. //

Richard J. Schulte
2002 ASTM Chairman of the Board

Copyright 2002, ASTM