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SIS: Accelerating Chinese Economic Development While Embracing the Global Market

by Shu Wen Hua

The Shanghai Institute of Standardization specializes in standardization and standards management. Under the leadership and support of the Standardization Administration of China and the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision, the institute is engaged in standardization research and services, administration of code allocation to organizations, and administration of product bar codes. As a result of its development over the last two decades, SIS has become a well-known standardization research and services center equipped with superior talent, diverse functionality, and state-of-the-art facilities.

Organizational Structure

SIS now comprises a multifunctional group of institutions centered around research, services and the application of standards, managed and run as a business enterprise, and operating as a group consisting of parent and subsidiary institutions.

SIS is made up of six functional divisions that support its operation and management, as well as six business divisions, which include a standardization research center, a standardization service center, a center for the administration of identity code allocation, a center for the administration of bar codes, an information center, and an audio-visual material editing studio. In addition, it has several wholly-owned or holding companies operating in such fields as quality system certification and personnel training; training of personnel for laboratory accreditation; application of new technologies; development of computer software, advertising and media; and product manufacturing.

For example, Shanghai Huashen Smart Card Application Systems Co., Ltd., is a holding company recognized by the Shanghai municipal government as a high-tech enterprise operating in the field of computer software development. It has developed logistics, warehousing and storage management software for large enterprises such as Shanghai Hua Lian Supermarket (Group) Co., Ltd., Shanghai Brilliance (Group) Co., Ltd., and Shanghai Longwu Harbor Company; its software products have been exported to Japan and other markets abroad. Founded in 1999, Shanghai Huashen Smart Card Application Systems Co., Ltd., has grown into a high-tech company with annual sales of more than ¥20,000,000.

Standardization Research

SIS’s standardization research is centered around the general objectives of serving industrial enterprises, promoting economic growth and enhancing Shanghai’s overall competitiveness, and is focused on two main research areas, including:

• Providing standardization information support for government agencies and enterprises, and
• Cultivating participation in and organization and development of national and local standards.

In accordance with the above directions, SIS has been actively involved in standards development and has undertaken or participated in the development of 10 national standards, including “Norm of Integrated Circuit (IC) Card of Certificate of Identity Code for Organizations, Institutions and Enterprises of the People’s Republic of China,” and “Application Code of the Radio Frequency Identify (RFID)”; 20 local Shanghai standards, including “Technical Specification of Single Journey Ticket for City Rail Transportation Contactless Integrated Circuit (IC) Token Card,” and “Applied Regulation of Barcode for Invoice of Public Utility.” The development and implementation of these standards have played a positive role in promoting standardized practice in related fields in Shanghai and throughout China. Organization codes and integrated circuit cards, for instance, are widely used in banking, tax collection, statistics and census-taking, public security, human resources, social security and other government and social service agencies, as well as in more than two million enterprises.

The secretariat of the Shanghai Technical Committee for Information Standardization is currently located at SIS. In the future, SIS plans to serve as the secretariat for one or two more technical committees for national or local standardization institutions to make a greater contribution to China’s standardization.

In addition to its active involvement in the development of standards, SIS is also actively involved in the research of related applied technology. While preparing the draft national standard for “smart labels,” SIS completed the project “Research on the Application of ‘Smart Labels’ in Security Management and Logistics Tracking of Specialty Equipment,” a major research project of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China. The completion of this project will have a major impact on the successful establishment of long-term safety control mechanisms for specialty equipment that conform to China’s actual conditions and have found extensive application in Shanghai’s safety management and control of industrial gas cylinders and the inspection of taxicab pricing meters.

Seizing the opportunity of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, SIS began timely research into technological barriers to trade and developed a “Database of Major Industrial and Agricultural Products Exported by Shanghai to European Union Countries,” which was warmly received. On the basis of this database SIS built a “Database of Technological Barriers to Trade for Industrial and Agricultural Products in Major Industrial Countries and Regions of the World,” to expand the coverage of the database from European Union countries to major countries and regions to which China exports, greatly enriching the database’s content and value. In view of the actual status of Shanghai’s industrial development and the conditions of its foreign trade, SIS provided various forms of technical consultation to enterprises and agencies of various kinds, and set up related training programs in and around Shanghai. Until December 2003, SIS provided consultation on international market access for many manufacturers, including Shanghai China Refrigerated Container Co., Ltd., Shanghai Automation Instrumentation Co., Ltd., and Hung’s Enterprise (Xiamen) Co., Ltd.

SIS has made remarkable strides in its standardization research. By December 2003, it had won 36 national and municipal awards, including national achievement awards in scientific and technical information from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Shanghai municipal awards for scientific and technical progress, and Shanghai municipal awards for outstanding new products.

Standards Information Services

SIS has been exploring new approaches and new levels of services in recent years to meet multiple-level demands for standards information from government agencies and enterprises.

In 2003, the standardization services center of SIS received a total of 47,000 visits from standards users, provided 180,000 standards, and offered several standardization training programs, with over 300 participants. For 13 consecutive years, standardization publications issued by SIS were ranked number one nationally for distribution and were named by the Standardization Administration of China and China Standard Press as the “2002-2003 Pacesetter in the Distribution of Standardization Publications.” In the distribution the “National Metrology Verification Regulation of the People’s Republic of China,” SIS had been ranked number one nationally for 14 consecutive years and was recognized by the Department of Metrology and Calibration; General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine; and by the China Metrology Press with the “2003 Award of Special Contribution to the Distribution of Metrology Publications.”

To bring about sustained economic growth in the Yangtze River Delta, SIS, as the leading standardization service organization in its geographic area, has been actively involved in promoting standardization service cooperation in the Yangtze River delta. SIS prepared the initial drafts for “The Declaration of Cooperation in Standardization Service in the Yangtze River Delta,” and the “Initial Contents of Standardization Service Cooperation in the Yangtze River Delta” and sponsored the signing ceremony for the “Declaration of Cooperation” held in November 2003 by the 19 standardization organizations in the Yangtze River Delta region. This declaration of cooperation has been implemented to take full advantage of the superior resources and technology of this region through division of labor and cooperation to provide outstanding standardization services.

To expand its standardization services in scope and quality, SIS is actively involved in developing a database for its Standards Information Service while restructuring its workflow, in an attempt to provide technical support for the upgrading of its services.

In November 2002, SIS initiated the establishment of the “Shanghai Standards Information Service System,” a project set up by the Shanghai Municipal Planning Commission. The project required the establishment of standards information services to ensure the successful marketing of services, to provide services to manufacturing enterprises, to promote export, and to invigorate the economy. On the basis of its original standards database, SIS designed and developed a customer relations management system, regarding it as the key to sustained customer service. This customer service system adopts the techniques of data warehousing and data mining to incorporate multiple functions of customer information management, customer reception, customer service response, customer analysis and service support to ensure that every link connected to a customer is automatically operated and controlled. The needs of each customer are analyzed comprehensively to learn of potential future customer needs, and the standards information currently in each customer’s possession is tracked dynamically to ensure efficiency and proactive response.

The Shanghai Standards Information Services System was officially put into trial operation in May of this year. SIS has identified potential clients that will benefit from standards currently available in its database instead of searching for available standards requested by clients. Clients throughout China can use the highly efficient, comprehensive, and personalized standards information service through the Internet.

International Cooperation

For a long time, cooperation with standardization organizations abroad has been an important part of the SIS operations. At the beginning of 2004, SIS signed an agreement of cooperation with ASTM International, which marked an extension of the longstanding cooperation between the two parties to a new and more promising stage. The agreement stipulates:

• Both parties will assist Chinese enterprises in participating in the standards development activities of ASTM technical committees;
• ASTM International authorizes SIS to provide Chinese users with ASTM standards in a quicker, more convenient, and more economical way;
• Authorized by ASTM International, SIS will distribute ASTM standards and other publications; and
• SIS and ASTM will jointly host training courses for Chinese users offered by experts from ASTM International technical committees.

All these forms of cooperation will provide help to Chinese enterprises, encouraging them to take an active role in international standardization activities, keeping them informed about the trend of international standardization, and adopting international standards to improve the quality of their products and services.

To provide Chinese users with ASTM standards speedily, conveniently, and more economically, SIS is authorized by ASTM International to reproduce and distribute ASTM standards in China. At the same time, SIS is authorized by ASTM International to provide Chinese users with on-line printing services for ASTM standards via the official SIS website. For this, SIS completed the development of ASTM Standards Online Printing and its back-end information management system, which officially commenced services on March 1, 2004. Via this system, ASTM standards users in China can print ASTM standards with ease from their own web-connected computer, which greatly facilitates the acquisition of ASTM standards by Chinese users and improves the efficiency and quality of the services offered by SIS to ASTM standards users throughout China. Each online-printed ASTM standard contains the ASTM International authorization description to ensure proper protection of intellectual property.

China’s entry into the WTO has brought great opportunities for development as well as challenges. SIS will seize this great opportunity to “move ahead with time and meet challenges with innovative solutions.” With government policies and market demand to guide it, SIS will aim to serve China’s national economy and Chinese enterprises, constantly improve the quality of its research and services, expand in scope and depth the cooperation with its standardization colleagues abroad, and accomplish its work innovatively and professionally. While based in Shanghai, it must take a broader view of all of China and the rest of the world, give full force to the role of standardization as the technical foundation and security assurance for the national economy and informational infrastructure of the society, and provide standards professionals and standards users with more up-to-date, complete, and satisfactory services. //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International

Shu Wen Hua is the president of the Shanghai Institute of Standardization. He also has experience in government metrological management. He attended a World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade practical course
arranged by U.S. China Business Council for four months in Washington D.C. in 2002.