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feature

July/August 2008
Feature

Global Partnerships That Work

Stories from the ASTM Memorandum of Understanding Program

In 2001, one of the goals of ASTM International’s newly-formed Global Cooperation division was to seek out mutually beneficial partnerships with standards developing organizations around the world. Through a series of open house events that have taken place since then, representatives from SDOs throughout the global community have visited ASTM International headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa., and shared their views on standardization with ASTM staff and other invited guests.

The general goals of ASTM International’s memorandum of understanding program are to:

  • Promote communication between ASTM and the partner standards body;
  • Avoid duplication of work efforts where possible;
  • Promote knowledge of the standards development activities of each organization;
  • Utilize the resources of ASTM International to strengthen other countries’ national standards systems;
  • Promote greater input and content from individuals and organizations worldwide in the ASTM International standards development process; and
  • Promote the other country’s acceptance and use of ASTM International standards.

Through the MOU program, ASTM provides its standards to the partnering NSB free of charge for their internal use in developing national standards or for direct citation or reference. In addition, membership fees are waived for representatives joining through the NSB from MOU countries to participate as members on any of ASTM’s 138 committees, and free training on effective and active participation is provided to MOU partners.

Two other valuable benefits for selected signatories of the MOU program are the technical assistance training programs and the standards expert exchange program. ASTM International trainers travel throughout the world to present our award-winning training programs under the technical assistance program, and ASTM hosts up to three visiting experts for a one-month period each year at its headquarters near Philadelphia, Pa. under the standards expert exchange program.

Seven years since the initial signings, ASTM’s MOU program has grown at an exciting rate, with 60 agreements made throughout the world (the 60th, with the Kingdom of Bahrain, was signed just before press time). Reports from three national standards bodies — those of Israel, Peru and South Africa — provide insight on the many benefits of this type of global partnership.

Israel — Standards Institution of Israel

MOU signed July 2007

The Standards Institution of Israel is a government body operating under the Standards Law of 1953, and it is responsible for preparing standards to ensure the quality and safety of products. Standards, industry and construction testing, and certification of products and quality assurance systems are the main areas in which SII activities are concentrated.

The MOU between ASTM International and the Standards Institution of Israel is one of a series of agreements SII has made with standards organizations based in the U.S. (other completed agreements include those with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Underwriters Laboratories). Yoram Zara, manager, international relations, SII, says that these agreements have already improved the accessibility of standards to Israel’s technical committees and will facilitate their adoption as national standards. SII makes ASTM standards available throughout Israel and more than 25 ASTM standards have been adopted as Israeli national standards.

Currently, 40 Israeli technical experts from important industries and organizations including DoublExit Rescue & Evacuation Solutions, Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd., Israel Electric Corp. and the Israel Laboratory Accreditation Authority participate on a broad range of ASTM technical committees. Israeli members contribute to Committees D20 on Plastics, D28 on Activated Carbon, E06 on Performance of Buildings, E18 on Sensory Evaluation, E31 on Healthcare Informatics, and F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, among others. These experts have taken an active role in committees; examples include the role of representatives of Escape Rescue Systems in the development of E2484, Specification for Multi-Story Building External Evacuation Controlled Descent Devices, a standard under the jurisdiction of Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings. In addition, a representative of Netafim, a leading Israeli company, will be involved in the standards developing activities of Subcommittee D20.95 on Recycled Plastics.

In May, ASTM and SII hosted a technical assistance training session in Tel Aviv on flammability requirements for children’s apparel sold in the United States. Jayakumar Gopalakrishnan, a member of ASTM Committee D13 on Textiles, explained U.S. legal requirements to Israeli textile industry representatives and a voluntary ASTM test method for flammability of textiles that exporters to the U.S. may use to comply with relevant regulation.

Peru — Instituto Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia y de la Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual

MOU signed June 2003

Peru’s national standards body, the Instituto Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia y de la Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual was created in November 1992 to promote fair and honest competition in the Peruvian economy as well as to protect all forms of intellectual property. Since signing an MOU with ASTM International, INDECOPI has adopted, adapted or referenced more than 600 ASTM standards in nearly as many different sectors as ASTM provides standards. Information from these standards is integral to Peruvian national standards in many areas of industry, particularly cement, aggregates and concrete. In addition, more than 80 individuals from Peru participate as ASTM members in a wide range of technical committees.

“In the last few years, the Peruvian economy has been strengthened through international agreements and forums,” says Augusto Mello, technical secretary, INDECOPI. “Standardization has become relevant in many areas, providing quality parameters to the different economic sectors that have enabled them to carry out negotiations and trade.” The MOU has assisted 94 Peruvian technical committees in conducting projects and programs that have allowed for the dissemination of Peruvian technical standards, not only in Peru’s capital city of Lima, but throughout the country.

“In particular, small and medium companies have benefited from standardization programs,” says Mello. “Through these projects we are disseminating the concepts of quality in the industry and the importance of standardization in various sectors and economic levels.”

In 2006, ASTM staff members Teresa Cendrowska, vice president, global cooperation, and Jessica Hychalk, manager, global cooperation, participated in a series of meetings and training sessions in Peru, including a session at INDECOPI. Cendrowska and Hychalk exchanged information at these meetings with INDECOPI staff and members of Peruvian technical committees representing industries concerned with cement and plaster, concrete, reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete, and plastic pipes, valves and accessories for transportation of fluids.

In September, ASTM will welcome Patricia Castro to ASTM headquarters as a participant in the 2008 standards expert exchange program. Castro is an analyist from the Technical and Commercial Regulations Commission of INDECOPI and she will be joined by visiting experts from the NSBs of Zimbabwe and Korea.

South Africa — South African Bureau of Standards

MOU signed September 2003

Originally established under terms of the Standards Act, 1945, the South African Bureau of Standards now operates under the terms of the latest edition of that act, passed in 1993. SABS publishes national standards; tests and certifies products and services; and develops, monitors and enforces compliance with technical regulations based on national standards. To maximize its service to South African industry, SABS has aligned its activities with seven industry sectors: chemicals, electrochemical, food and health, mechanical and materials, mining and minerals, services and transportation.

“Whenever a lack of standardization is identified in a specific area, the option of adopting an ASTM standard that is suitable for our local industry helps us to respond more effectively,” says Terrence Moodley, senior manager, sales and promotions, SABS. “Our customers also have easier access to ASTM standards at lower cost due to reduced distribution costs.” Moodley also notes that, through ASTM, SABS has expanded its adopted ASTM test method collection considerably to include standards for water testing, polish, coal and ethanol fuel. In addition, many ASTM standards that have not yet been adopted by SABS are referenced in SABS documents, including standards for engine lubricating oil for gasoline and diesel engines and thermoset plastic pipes.

As of August 2007, SABS has referenced more than 430 ASTM International standards in South African national standards, and 55 individuals are members of ASTM.

Moodley believes that an important aspect of the SABS/ASTM MOU relationship is that SABS is now much more responsive to the needs of South African industry in terms of adopting ASTM standards and also ensuring that ASTM standards are accessible without the extra burden of escalating distribution costs. “An example of how ASTM has helped us strengthen our standardization system is the number of standards we have adopted on lubricating oil testing and water testing, both critical areas in South Africa,” says Moodley.

“The MOU has not only benefited SABS but also South African industry as a whole, and we are confident that our relationship can be further cemented by encouraging South African industrialists to becoming participating members of ASTM,” says Moodley. “We are grateful for the cooperation we receive from ASTM in terms of this agreement.”

In Summary

Through continuing technical committee activity, training sessions (both virtual and in-person sessions), standards adoption/adaptation/referencing and other means, SII, INDECOPI, SABS and ASTM International plan to continue their productive MOU relationships. ASTM International MOU partnerships are proving time and again to be good for the organizations involved but, more importantly, good for the people living in the countries and regions to which MOU-affiliated organizations belong.

To learn more about the ASTM International MOU program and other initiatives of the Global Cooperation division, click here. There you will find links to the national standards bodies that have signed MOUs with ASTM (including the three described here), information on the World Trade Organization and ASTM International, ASTM’s open house program, how to join the ASTM global community and take advantage of training opportunities and more.