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New Name for ASTM

At the June committee week, I learned that the society is planning to change its name to ASTM International.

I am afraid that such a name change is necessary. Standards are obviously becoming more international, no matter what ASTM does. ASTM is therefore at risk of becoming a subsidiary body whose sole purpose is to feed standards to ISO or some other international group for final worldwide approval. I believe that ASTM has a better standards development process which can develop superior standards faster with the interests of the actual standards users represented better than any competing process can do. To bring this process to the world, we have to change our orientation and let the American Society for Testing and Materials become a name known only to historians.

But I do not like the idea of losing all reference to a meaningful name in another blur of initials. SAE is no longer the Society of Automotive Engineers, and ASM is no longer the American Society for Metals, but we don’t have to go that way. We can pick a name that introduces us and that explains our purpose to business executives, politicians, news reporters, and other important people who don’t always know us, and we can do it without changing our familiar initials.

I have no complaint about ASTM International as a short form of our organization’s name. But let’s agree that the initials mean Association for Standards and Test Methods.

C. Nelson Schlatter
Membership Secretary,
F23 on Protective Clothing

Mr. Schlatter,
Thank you for your comments about the impending change to ASTM’s name. As you suggest in your final paragraph, alternative names using the initials ASTM have been seriously considered. While some suggestions such as yours nearly met our goal of better defining the organization, a “tagline” approach was preferred, so that efforts to define ASTM’s strengths would not be constrained by having to choose words that form the acronym “ASTM.” Hence, future ASTM publications, letterhead, promotional material, and so forth will bear a new logo for “ASTM International,” along with a tagline that defines what we do best. The logo and tagline development are in process as I write, and will be unveiled very soon. (Editor)

What It Takes to Be Global

I read with a lot of interest Joan Sterling’s article, “Going Global” (SN, June 2001). She clearly reviewed the reasons for “going global” in term of standards: new technologies allowing companies to market products around the world but whose export could be limited by local standards, burdens that multiple standards create in term of logistics and costs, and so on. Based on this, she advocates for the use of global standards.

As she rightly points out, new technologies such as telecommunications are leading the way for international standardization, due to the lack of deep-rooted differences in regional standards.

Although it is more difficult for mature businesses, for example apparel, all the advantages of global standards apply to any business. Many brands in apparel are global, and the ones that are not yet, are moving quickly in this direction. At the other end, the supply chain is getting global, with a worldwide sourcing base, and certainly apparel is a good example for this as well.

Still we are facing too many differences between standards (ASTM/ISO). Ultimately, standards are developed to ensure quality to consumers. As such, a difference in terms of standards is justified only if this is related to a difference in consumer habits (e.g., in textiles: the washing machine). All other differences create complexity in the global supply chain without providing the advantage to better protect the consumers.

Joan Sterling writes: “For international standardization to be successful, standards developing organizations, regulatory bodies, and manufacturers around the world need to work together.”

I would be highly interested to exchange thoughts from SDOs, regulatory bodies and manufacturers about this approach.

Andre Leroy, Quality Manager
Levi Strauss Europe, Middle East
and Africa
Brussels, Europe

Copyright 2001, ASTM