||If standards are the genes that build commerce, then weights and measures standardization is the DNA itself. Without test methods to determine the accuracy of weights and measures as a place to start, many standards that assess or prescribe material properties wouldnt have a leg to stand on.
Last fall, when I visited David Smith, this years chairman of the ASTM International board of directors, I learned a thing or two about the very real responsibilities that weights and measures officials have toward ensuring the success of everyday business. During our interview for this issue of SN, Smith, who is deputy chief of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, took me on a field trip to some of the laboratories overseen by his department. After we enjoyed some delicious hush puppies with our lunch at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh (which is also part of the NCDA&CS), Smith showed me the states standards and motor fuel laboratories located in that city.
The old and the new are the first things you see when walking into the Standards Laboratory, which is where North Carolina calibrates weights and measures for a variety of manufacturers and agricultural producers. To the left, just inside the doorway, is a display of classic calibration equipment, some a century old. Directly opposite the doorway, a window looks in on a laboratory where micro-measurements, used for tiny products such as pharmaceuticals and space shuttle components, are calibrated by extremely sensitive machines. While I would have loved to have gone into that lab, I was amazed to learn that the equipment is sensitive enough that the higher temperatures, humidity levels, and dust brought in by the human body can easily throw off the measurements. Further back in the Standards Laboratory, enormous blocks are loaded onto equally enormous scales so that manufacturers of truck, grain, livestock and other scales can check the accuracy of their own products after months of use.
From micro weights and measures to motor fuels testing to farmers markets, your new chairman of the board oversees it all for the state of North Carolina. Please take a moment to read not only the interview with David Smith in this issue, but the feature articles that follow on the state agency use of ASTM standards as well as the role of weights and measures in commerce. It was a pleasure for me to spend that day last autumn learning about Smiths responsibilities in Raleigh, and I hope youll also enjoy the record of our visit.
Editor in Chief