The ASTM Advantage
It would not be telling our readers anything they don’t already know by saying that standardization enhances corporate profitability, public safety, market access, R&D, technology transfer, and on and on. But documentation showing these benefits in specific cases is admittedly hard to come by.
Various factors play into this. Standards are so hardwired into products and processes that teasing out data showing economic or other advantages of using them can be nearly impossible. Standards are an essential component of strategic product development, so competitive interests often dictate a reluctance to divulge information about using standards as part of business strategies. And standards are frequently mandated in regulations and as such are accepted as inherent to doing business and engaging in trade; the possibility and consequences of not using standards, in these circumstances, are rarely considered.
So it is no surprise that, speaking from an institutional perspective, leaders of corporations, government agencies and other stakeholder entities may find it difficult, when asked, to provide specific and practical information showing how and why standards are so important to them — even though they are more than willing to acknowledge that they are.
Yet there are many people on the front lines who recognize the need for a standard’s existence and who participate in its development and maintenance. Many use standards in their daily work and know how those standards provide needed testing protocols or critical design guidance, enable market access, ensure public safety or perform any of the other myriad services offered by standards.
It is those individuals to whom ASTM International appeals when soliciting case studies for its annual Advantage Award paper competition. More than any data that could be gathered by any standards developing organization, the case studies elicited by the Advantage Award call for papers make the case for standardization and do so across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
The three winning papers in this issue show the significance of specific ASTM International standards in public safety, product development and market access, and the U.S. judicial system. Each fascinating paper demonstrates through data and through the obvious passion of its authors that ASTM International standards provide timely, relevant and technically superior solutions to problems of many different kinds.
I hope you’ll take some time to read the work of your fellow ASTM International members — first place winners Gwenael Chiffoleau and Barry Newton, second place winners James and Deborah Stephenson, and third place winner Rigo Vargas — and join me in congratulating them on their achievement of proving the ASTM advantage.