|A Year in the Life of ASTM International
The following is adapted from a speech delivered by ASTM Chairman of the Board Anthony Fiorato at ASTM International’s annual business meeting, which was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 14.
Since ASTM International’s last annual business meeting, ASTM members and staff have had a remarkable 12 months, creating new technical committees and standards, new products and services, and reaching out to international governments, the U.S. government, corporations and academia. Having observed these achievements, I’d like to take this opportunity to give you an overview of a year in the life of ASTM International.
New Committee Activity
ASTM continues to welcome new groups of stakeholders who choose the Society for their standards development initiatives. This has resulted in the formation of exciting new committees such as F41 on Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Systems. UUVs may be familiar because of their application in oceanographic research and discovery, such as their use in exploring the wreck of the Titanic. As the UUV industry looks to have a greater role in commercial and military applications, ASTM International standards will help define new-generation technology for these promising systems.
Another new group that will soon embark on standards development under the ASTM umbrella is focused on the growing area of three-dimensional imaging systems. Stakeholders interested in this new activity gathered at ASTM headquarters recently for an organizational meeting. Industry participants selected ASTM International as the home for their standards writing activities following a March workshop on 3-D imaging systems, sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. While the use of 3-D imaging systems such as laser scanners, optical scanners, and range cameras is increasing, no standards currently exist for evaluating their performance or for the data they generate. Watch for further news on the formation of this new committee in the September issue of SN.
In addition to the continued growth in new main technical committees, several new subcommittees were also formed during the past year.
• Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications, which has pursued an aggressive agenda of developing standards that contribute to safety and security, recently formed Subcommittee E54.08 on Operational Equipment, devoted to the development of operational equipment standards for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incident response. The new group is already off to a quick start on its first initiative: the development of a series of standards on urban search and rescue robots.
• Supporting the efforts of Committee E54 is a new subcommittee formed within Committee F14 on Fences. Subcommittee F14.50 on High Security Fences and Perimeter Barriers will develop a series of standards that address a higher level of security fencing and perimeter barriers than those that now exist.
• The pervasive issue of wildfires is the focus of a new subcommittee in Committee E05 on Fire Standards. To help reduce the structural damage caused by wildfires, Subcommittee E05.14 on External Fire Exposure Tests will develop standards to evaluate the responses of materials, components and assemblies of buildings and structures to external fire exposures.
• Committee F15 on Consumer Products has created new child safety-related subcommittees. Four newly formed groups will address safety concerns related to powered scooters and skateboards, folding chairs, portable pools and inflatable play devices.
• Members of Committees C01 on Cement and C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates have long enjoyed close cooperation and overlapping memberships. This was recently underscored by the formation of a new joint Subcommittee C01.48/C09.48 on Performance of Cementitous Materials and Admixture Combinations. This new effort will address issues related to rheology and workability of fresh concrete produced with hydraulic cement, supplementary cementious materials and chemical admixtures.
The vitality of ASTM International technical committees was evident in the numerous new standards published during the past 12 months. A few notable ones that will impact the lives of many people bear mentioning.
• Standard E 2369, Specification for Continuity of Care Record, was approved and published by Subcommittee E31.28 on Electronic Health Records. This groundbreaking new standard will help doctors and other healthcare practitioners better preserve and transfer patient information. The CCR defines a core set of information to be sent to the next healthcare provider whenever a patient is referred, transferred or uses different medical facilities or providers. For both doctors and patients alike, this new ASTM standard brings numerous benefits for improved medical care.
• Last fall, Committee F39 on Normal and Utility Category Airplane Electrical Wiring Systems approved its first standard, F 2490, Guide for Aircraft Electrical Load and Power Source Capacity Analysis. The new guide covers how to prepare an electrical load analysis to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements.
• Several new standards were developed in the past 12 months by Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action. This committee has been instrumental in the development of standards that have impacted commercial real estate for many years. Two important E50 environmental assessment standards E 1527, Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process, and E 1528, Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process have recently undergone major revisions to reflect relevant changes in federal environmental regulations. In addition, Committee E50 just released another new standard that will also be a significant step forward in the real estate marketplace. Standard E 2418, Guide for Readily Observable Mold and Conditions Conducive to Mold in Commercial Buildings: Baseline Survey Process, provides a common language for assessing the effects of mold in commercial buildings.
Interlaboratory Studies Program
In 2005, ASTM International announced that the board of directors had committed $4 million over five years to fund a new Interlaboratory Studies Program. The aim of the program is to assist ASTM committees in developing precision and bias statements for their test methods. The program has completed its pilot stage, and a solid foundation is now in place. A multipurpose database, used to store each study’s information and provide administrative processing support, as well as an online data reporting system, are up and running.
In October 2005, a new Web-based registration application made its debut, which helps guide the registration of committee-approved activities in the ILS program. Currently, a specialized statistical software package is being developed for use in the evaluation of ILS data. To date, more than 70 interlaboratory studies have been registered in the ILS program.
Technical Committee Support
Beyond the ILS program, ASTM International has much more in store to improve the service and support we provide to our members.
• There is now Internet access at members offices during Committee Weeks.
• Enhancements to the electronic balloting system are on the way later this year that will feature the availability of negatives and comments online, real-time distribution of negatives, and negative vote handling and disposition.
• Toward the end of 2006 ASTM also will provide online roster maintenance and membership reports;
• There will also be additional improvements to the My Outstanding Ballots, My Work Items, and My Meetings features of the ASTM Web site, as well as new document development, project management and collaborative authoring tools.
ASTM Web Site Enhancements
Adding to these new standards development tools and features of the ASTM Web site are the continued enhancements to the site’s content and functionality. For example, during the past year, two major new sections have been added to the site: ASTM Campus and Global Cooperation, which I will address later, and much more is in the works. All of these additions are contributing to the growing popularity of the ASTM Web site.
Metrics for 2005 show that there were 22,000 user sessions on average per day, approximately 80,000 individual standards were downloaded, and 235,000 individual standards were downloaded via the Web subscription service. Furthermore, online Virtual Meetings continue to grow in popularity with 322 meetings held in 2005, up by nearly 100 from the year before.
ASTM International Standards Worldwide
There is much good news to report on the global cooperation front, starting with ASTM International’s relationship with China.
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May 2005, we opened our new office in Beijing and along with it a new chapter in ASTM’s partnership with China. ASTM’s Beijing location is at the office of the Consortium for Standards and Conformity Assessment, formed in 2004 by a partnership between ASTM and ASME International, the American Petroleum Institute, and CSA America.
Beijing will also be the site of the ASTM board of directors meeting in October, which will incorporate board member visits with various Chinese industry sector groups.
ASTM International staff members have also had numerous productive visits and meetings in Beijing building mutually beneficial relationships and exchanging important information with Chinese counterparts. Among the many highlights were training sessions held in Shanghai and Beijing in January with ASTM International’s Chinese partners: the Shanghai Institute of Standardization and China National Institute of Standardization. During a recent trip, ASTM President James Thomas met for the first time with the head of the Standards Administration of China and the newly appointed president of CNIS. Making this trip even more successful was another first-time meeting between ASTM International and the Research Institute for Standards and Norms, a non-profit component of the Chinese Ministry of Construction.
ASTM was also pleased to welcome three visiting scholars from Chinese standardization organizations to its headquarters this year. Each of these individuals received an in-depth review of our standardization process.
The past year also brought much growth and progress to ASTM International’s relationship with Korea.
Jim Thomas visited Korea in May and gave a talk to a class of over 500 students at prestigious Hanyang University. Following the presentation at Hanyang, Jim went on to deliver the keynote speech at the 2006 Global Standards Management Conference in Seoul. Joining him at the conference was Laura Hitchcock, ASTM International member, and corporate project manager for external standards strategy at Boeing, who addressed various standardization strategy models for the aerospace industry. On the second day of the conference, Hitchcock collaborated with Teresa Cendrowska, director of external relations at ASTM, to present a workshop on ASTM International to representatives of industry, government and academia.
Culminating the trip to Korea was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between ASTM International and the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards.
Canada has been the site of many important global activities during the past year, including our board of directors meeting and a major standards workshop held in Toronto last fall. The collaborative workshop, titled “Standardization Strategies: A World View,” featured standards executives from the United States, Canada, China, Europe, and Japan and was sponsored by ASTM International and the Canadian Standards Association. The delegation of standards executives from leading Chinese standards bodies who attended at the invitation of ASTM International also participated in our Toronto board meeting.
Part of the workshop’s events included the signing of an MOU between ASTM and the Canadian Standards Association to support and foster collaborative efforts between the two organizations.
The third ASTM International Open House was held in July 2005. This event brought together 26 top executives of standards developing organizations from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Discussions were held at both ASTM headquarters and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md.
ASTM staff continued to personally spread the message of global cooperation to all parts of the world. During the past year, this outreach included a host of workshops, training sessions, and face-to-face meetings at numerous venues abroad and at home.
ASTM International’s global cooperation efforts are having an important positive impact on many key areas of the Society. As of May 2006, the number of non-U.S. ASTM members reached 6,119, or 18 percent of total membership. In 2002, 100 countries were represented in ASTM; there are now 125. To date, some 3,000 standards have been adopted for use by countries outside the United States, and the 47 countries that have signed memorandums of understanding with ASTM have adopted just over 3,900 ASTM standards.
Additional information on the MOU program can be found on ASTM International’s Web site in the newly launched Global Cooperation section. Content contained in the new section includes a complete listing of the countries participating in the MOU program as well as feature articles on global standards-related issues, information on the World Trade Organization and international standards, ASTM global office contacts, and background on ASTM’s Open House initiative.
U.S. Government Relations
Much activity has also followed the re-opening of ASTM’s Washington, D.C., office in 2004. Among the numerous outreach initiatives in the U.S. capital was Jim Thomas’ participation in a standards roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. Thomas joined senior officials from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua for talks related to international standardization and the new Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Also this spring, the U.S. Department of Commerce presented ASTM International with a Certificate of Appreciation for Achievement in Trade with Vietnam, which is awarded to organizations that have partnered with the Department’s Commercial Service to help promote trade and export opportunities for U.S. businesses. As a result of ASTM’s MOU with the national standards body of Vietnam, signed in 2004, Vietnam has adopted 54 ASTM standards as Vietnamese national standards.
ASTM has also been highly engaged with other key federal government departments and agencies. The U.S. Department of Defense adopted an ASTM standard F 2411, Specification for Design and Performance of an Airborne Sense-and-Avoid System to govern the performance of the automated sense-and-avoid systems it procures for its unmanned aircraft.
In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added nine standards from Committee F29 on Anesthetic and Respiratory Equipment to its list of FDA-recognized consensus standards.
Another important event on the government relations front was the signing of an MOU between ASTM and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. The purpose of the MOU is to foster closer cooperation in the area of protective clothing standards through the efforts of Committee F23 on Protective Clothing.
To promote greater corporate awareness of the value of ASTM International standards and the voluntary consensus process, ASTM has worked aggressively to build new and stronger ties in the corporate and industry environment. Senior staff has been actively engaging industry groups and executives in meetings and other forums across a variety of industries.
In the information technology sector, Jim Thomas was invited to give the keynote address at an international standards conference sponsored by Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.
In the manufacturing sector, ASTM participated in the National Association of Manufacturers’ Council on Manufacturing Associations Winter Leadership Conference. At the December 2005 event, Jim joined the CEOs of more than 75 associations for speeches and presentations from leaders of industry, government and academia.
To facilitate closer ties with the global auto industry, ASTM International staff met with executives of the Automotive Industry Action Group and the United States Council for Automotive Research. These meetings laid the groundwork for future collaboration in standards development to meet the evolving needs of the auto industry.
ASTM staff is currently in the process of developing a new section of the ASTM Web site dedicated specifically to corporate outreach activities.
ASTM International and Academia
ASTM also made a great deal of progress in the last year in the area of academic outreach, fostering stronger relationships with students and college faculty around the world. Highlighting these activities was the launch of the ASTM Campus, a new section of the ASTM Web site dedicated to student members and academicians. In addition to the main student membership page, ASTM Campus offers short interviews with ASTM International members from various fields who discuss their involvement with ASTM standards. Also offered are articles from members of academia discussing how they have incorporated ASTM standards into their teaching.
We are also putting together a program to offer ASTM standards at a nominal fee to students taking courses within a curriculum that incorporates our standards. We expect this program will be available in the third quarter of 2006.
To convey the strategic importance of standardization to the future careers of university-level students, ASTM International brought its message directly to the campuses of Southern Methodist University and Arizona State University in 2005.
At Southern Methodist, ASTM representatives, including members of Committee E08 on Fatigue and Fracture, led a session titled “Setting Standards for Fatigue and Fracture.” This gathering was the first of its kind that reinforced a renewed effort by ASTM International to convey the strategic importance of standardization in the future careers of university-level students. The event was coordinated with the SMU student section of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers.
A similar event took place at Arizona State, where ASTM made presentations on the subject of technical standards to students interested in the field of civil engineering. Among the presenters was Beth Martin, a 20-year member of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, who has made major contributions to five standards. From her extensive experience involving ASTM International, Beth provided examples of the importance of understanding standards throughout various stages of one’s professional career in her presentation titled “My Life at ASTM.” ASTM’s visit to Arizona State was coordinated with the student section of the American Society for Civil Engineers.
I also had the pleasure of participating in this initiative when I gave a recent talk to engineering students at Drexel University in Philadelphia. During my presentation, which was titled “U.S. Practice: Construction Codes and Specifications Development and Application of ASTM Standards,” I discussed the various types of standards and their development and implementation in codes and specifications. Jim Olshefsky, director of committee services at ASTM, then reviewed our standards development process.
As a result of these and other academic outreach initiatives, we can now count 3,191 students from around the world as members of ASTM. I encourage members to join these outreach activities by meeting with students in their fields of interest to discuss relevant standards, their impact in industry, and their development through the ASTM voluntary consensus process.
On the subject of new products and other new offerings, let me start by making note of a new online resource released during the past year: ASTM’s Directory of Equipment Manufacturers. Available at the ASTM International Web site, the directory features full text search capabilities for equipment and locations of manufacturers by name, type of equipment manufactured and specific ASTM standard designations. Users can also search in the ASTM standards database and then link to the new equipment directory or the ASTM Directory of Testing Laboratories.
Another notable development is ASTM’s digital library project. Over the years, ASTM has developed a wealth of high-quality technical content that is not available elsewhere. This includes technical papers, journals, handbooks, manuals, reports and other special publications. Most have been published in print. The digital library project will convert this legacy data into an electronic format that will allow us to create digital libraries for major activity areas.
Also debuting on the ASTM International Web site recently are Access ASTM International, our online customer newsletter, as well as the online Spanish edition of SN. Both of these are published quarterly.
This year publication of the Chinese version of SN has also expanded to two issues per year. Chinese SN is available in printed form, as well as online at the ASTM Web site.
Enhancing our new product offerings are the availability of several new Interlaboratory Crosscheck Programs and a new Proficiency Testing Program. During the past year, ASTM launched three new crosscheck programs on biodiesel, hydraulic fluids and oils, and in-service hydraulic fluids and oils. These programs provide statistical quality assurance tools that enable laboratories to maintain or improve a high level of performance in conducting routine ASTM tests by comparing results with other laboratories.
In February 2006, ASTM International also launched a new Proficiency Testing Program on Dissolved Gas Analyses of In-Service Insulating Fluid. The program is aimed at assisting labs in their use of the test methods developed by Committee D27 on Electrical Insulating Liquids and Gases. In addition, ASTM is expanding the Textiles Proficiency Testing Program to include standard D 5587, Test Method for Tearing Strength of Fabrics by Trapezoid Procedure.
As ASTM International continues to grow as a premier developer of international standards, the range of initiatives described here shows the Society’s wide-ranging strengths in areas that support our mission: expanding our technical committee universe, ensuring the quality of our standards, educating students and professionals about the value of standards, and bringing together business and nations around the world to protect public health, safety and the environment and promote free trade. I am privileged to provide this report, which is only a snapshot of ASTM International’s activities. I want to thank our members, our worldwide partners, and our staff for their efforts in making ASTM International such a strong, dynamic organization, and our standards the best in the world.
Anthony E. Fiorato
2006 Chairman of the ASTM Board of Directors