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C14 GLASS AND GLASS PRODUCTS C21 CERAMIC WHITEWARES AND RELATED PRODUCTS D01 PAINT AND RELATED COATINGS, MATERIALS, AND APPLICATIONS D06 D09 ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC INSULATING MATERIALS D10 PACKAGING D11 RUBBER D12 SOAPS AND OTHER DETERGENTS D13 TEXTILES D14 ADHESIVES D15 ENGINE COOLANTS AND RELATED FLUIDS D20 PLASTICS D21 POLISHES D31 LEATHER E12 COLOR AND APPEARANCE E18 SENSORY EVALUATION E20 TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT E35 PESTICIDES, ANTIMICROBIALS, AND ALTERNATIVE CONTROL AGENTS E41 LABORATORY APPARATUS E53 ASSET MANAGEMENT E57 3D IMAGING SYSTEMS F02 FLEXIBLE BARRIER PACKAGING F05 BUSINESS IMAGING PRODUCTS F06 RESILIENT FLOOR COVERINGS F08 SPORTS EQUIPMENT, PLAYING SURFACES, AND FACILITIES F09 TIRES F10 LIVESTOCK, MEAT, AND POULTRY EVALUATION SYSTEMS F11 VACUUM CLEANERS F13 PEDESTRIAN/WALKWAY SAFETY AND FOOTWEAR F14 FENCES F15 CONSUMER PRODUCTS F16 FASTENERS F24 AMUSEMENT RIDES AND DEVICES F26 FOOD SERVICE EQUIPMENT F27 SNOW SKIING F37 LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT F43 LANGUAGE SERVICES AND PRODUCTS F44 GENERAL AVIATION AIRCRAFT A01 STEEL, STAINLESS STEEL AND RELATED ALLOYS A04 IRON CASTINGS A05 METALLIC-COATED IRON AND STEEL PRODUCTS A06 MAGNETIC PROPERTIES B01 ELECTRICAL CONDUCTORS B02 NONFERROUS METALS AND ALLOYS B05 COPPER AND COPPER ALLOYS B07 LIGHT METALS AND ALLOYS B08 METALLIC AND INORGANIC COATINGS B09 METAL POWDERS AND METAL POWDER PRODUCTS B10 REACTIVE AND REFRACTORY METALS AND ALLOYS C03 CHEMICAL-RESISTANT NONMETALLIC MATERIALS C08 REFRACTORIES C28 ADVANCED CERAMICS D01 PAINT AND RELATED COATINGS, MATERIALS, AND APPLICATIONS D20 PLASTICS D30 COMPOSITE MATERIALS E01 ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY FOR METALS, ORES, AND RELATED MATERIALS E04 METALLOGRAPHY E07 NONDESTRUCTIVE TESTING E08 FATIGUE AND FRACTURE E12 COLOR AND APPEARANCE E13 MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY AND SEPARATION SCIENCE E28 MECHANICAL TESTING E29 PARTICLE AND SPRAY CHARACTERIZATION E37 THERMAL MEASUREMENTS E42 SURFACE ANALYSIS F01 ELECTRONICS F34 ROLLING ELEMENT BEARINGS F40 DECLARABLE SUBSTANCES IN MATERIALS F42 ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES G01 CORROSION OF METALS G03 WEATHERING AND DURABILITY D21 POLISHES D26 HALOGENATED ORGANIC SOLVENTS AND FIRE EXTINGUISHING AGENTS D33 PROTECTIVE COATING AND LINING WORK FOR POWER GENERATION FACILITIES E05 FIRE STANDARDS E27 HAZARD POTENTIAL OF CHEMICALS E30 FORENSIC SCIENCES E34 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY E35 PESTICIDES, ANTIMICROBIALS, AND ALTERNATIVE CONTROL AGENTS E52 FORENSIC PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY E54 HOMELAND SECURITY APPLICATIONS E58 FORENSIC ENGINEERING F06 RESILIENT FLOOR COVERINGS F08 SPORTS EQUIPMENT, PLAYING SURFACES, AND FACILITIES F10 LIVESTOCK, MEAT, AND POULTRY EVALUATION SYSTEMS F12 SECURITY SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT F13 PEDESTRIAN/WALKWAY SAFETY AND FOOTWEAR F15 CONSUMER PRODUCTS F18 ELECTRICAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR WORKERS F23 PERSONAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT F26 FOOD SERVICE EQUIPMENT F32 SEARCH AND RESCUE F33 DETENTION AND CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES G04 COMPATIBILITY AND SENSITIVITY OF MATERIALS IN OXYGEN ENRICHED ATMOSPHERES D08 ROOFING AND WATERPROOFING D18 SOIL AND ROCK D19 WATER D20 PLASTICS D22 AIR QUALITY D34 WASTE MANAGEMENT D35 GEOSYNTHETICS E06 PERFORMANCE OF BUILDINGS E44 SOLAR, GEOTHERMAL AND OTHER ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES E47 E48 BIOENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS FROM BIOMASS E50 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT, RISK MANAGEMENT AND CORRECTIVE ACTION E60 SUSTAINABILITY F20 HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES AND OIL SPILL RESPONSE F40 DECLARABLE SUBSTANCES IN MATERIALS G02 WEAR AND EROSION D10 PACKAGING D11 RUBBER E31 HEALTHCARE INFORMATICS E35 PESTICIDES, ANTIMICROBIALS, AND ALTERNATIVE CONTROL AGENTS E54 HOMELAND SECURITY APPLICATIONS E55 MANUFACTURE OF PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS E56 NANOTECHNOLOGY F02 FLEXIBLE BARRIER PACKAGING F04 MEDICAL AND SURGICAL MATERIALS AND DEVICES F29 ANESTHETIC AND RESPIRATORY EQUIPMENT F30 EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES G04 COMPATIBILITY AND SENSITIVITY OF MATERIALS IN OXYGEN ENRICHED ATMOSPHERES C07 LIME AND LIMESTONE D14 ADHESIVES D16 AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS AND RELATED CHEMICALS D20 PLASTICS D26 HALOGENATED ORGANIC SOLVENTS AND FIRE EXTINGUISHING AGENTS D28 ACTIVATED CARBON D32 CATALYSTS E13 MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY AND SEPARATION SCIENCE E15 INDUSTRIAL AND SPECIALTY CHEMICALS E27 HAZARD POTENTIAL OF CHEMICALS E35 PESTICIDES, ANTIMICROBIALS, AND ALTERNATIVE CONTROL AGENTS F40 DECLARABLE SUBSTANCES IN MATERIALS E11 QUALITY AND STATISTICS E36 ACCREDITATION & CERTIFICATION E43 SI PRACTICE E55 MANUFACTURE OF PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS E56 NANOTECHNOLOGY F42 ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES
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Business Case

BusinessCase

Ensuring Product Quality for Billion-Dollar Brands

Kimberly-Clark and the Power of Standardization

Kimberly-Clark Corp. is a global manufacturer of personal care, professional care and medical products. These include consumer brands such as Kleenex, Kotex and Huggies as well as protective products such as the Jackson Safety brand. All of these products are influenced or guided by ASTM International guidelines and standards, and Kimberly-Clark representatives have been active participants in developing and revising the relevant standards.

Our consumer goods businesses rely on both the utility of our products as well as experienced and perceived comfort. For example, Huggies diapers not only have to work as absorbent products but have to be comfortable on the child; that comfort and the product’s efficacy has to be apparent to the consumer. All of our products undergo extensive sensory and field testing to ensure that we are delivering a quality product to our customers.

Since so much of our products’ appeal depends on sensory and preference judgments and on communicating those benefits to our potential customers, Kimberly-Clark representatives have been active participants in ASTM Committee E18 on Sensory Evaluation. This committee has produced such guidelines as ASTM E1958, Guide for Sensory Claim Substantiation; Manual 63, Just-About-Right (JAR) Scales: Design, Usage, Benefits and Risks; and E2299, Guide for Sensory Evaluation of Products by Children and Minors; it is also drafting a proposed standard, WK22268, Guide for Two-Sample Acceptance and Preference Testing with Consumers.

Many Committee E18 standards were originally crafted to reflect the concerns and practices of sensory scientists in food and beverage industries or the concerns of the beauty product industry, where small-scale testing in a controlled environment is the norm. These standards did not address the needs of products that needed to be both efficacious (e.g., stop diaper leaks) and comfortable. A further limitation of the controlled environment is that it does not capture the actual variability in use conditions that are important for practical success.

Kimberly-Clark addressed these needs by sending representatives to Committee E18 meetings. These representatives are experienced in the conduct of large-scale human testing, experimental psychology, materials and statistical methods for human populations. These scientists worked with E18 members from other industries to extend the existing E1958 standard to include the broader concerns that consumer products needed to face, resulting in a series of revisions to E1958 that have been approved by the general membership.

Kimberly-Clark’s professional healthcare division has been active in ASTM International for many years. A prime example is Subcommittee D11.40 on Consumer Rubber Products, which addresses medical gloves. As medical crises emerge, redefining the importance of specific product performance requirements and the need for new materials with innovative properties, ASTM committees have acted to address the problem. In the late 1980s, AIDS emerged as a threat to both patients and caregivers. Subcommittee D11.40 responded by developing more rigorous test methods for manufacturing gloves. Increased glove wear and latex allergies led to test methods for antigenic proteins, and definitions of and test methods for powder-free gloves. Currently, healthcare-associated infection is a focus area for industry and patients; Kimberly-Clark participates in the ASTM task group currently developing test methods to determine the efficacy of antimicrobial treatments of gloves to prevent pathogens from infecting patients.

Scientists from our protective apparel business have been active members and chairmen in ASTM Committees D11 on Rubber, D18 on Soil and Rock; E35 on Pesticides, Antimicrobials and Alternative Control Agents; E60 on Sustainability; F02 on Flexible Barrier Packaging; F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices; F23 on Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment; and F29 on Anesthetic and Respiratory Equipment. These groups produce standards that aid us in the manufacture of products such as gowns for physicians, nurses and hospital technicians that protect them from patient fluid splatter or soak-through so that they can confidently deliver patient care with less concern about their own safety. Additionally, we manufacture protective gear for people in industries or environments where they are exposed to soils and hazards. These products range from hard hats, eye protection and coveralls to full isolation suits for use in toxic environments.

Guaranteeing quality and conformance to standards is very important in these conditions, and ASTM International standards provide both a rigorous testing methodology and a standard by which to judge product quality. As with the other products mentioned in this article, Kimberly-Clark has been active in the development of standards and guidelines.

All of these activities have a clear benefit to Kimberly-Clark and other companies in related industries. In our work with ASTM, we respect ASTM bylaws and maintain balance between industrial needs and clinical perspectives for the good health of the consumer to develop standards that are scientifically sound and validated. Our work in developing sensory guidelines helps provide clear guidance for companies that wish to demonstrate the sensory properties of their products as well as make defensible statements about consumer preferences and choice. In the protective apparel and healthcare industries, ASTM standards provide actionable means to test and certify the benefits of the products that comply with these standards.

Since many of these standards have a global reach, standards allow companies to compete on a more global scale. Kimberly-Clark’s participation in ASTM International has provided us with clear benefits in product development and communications with our consumers.

Adam Stevenson, Ph.D., is a cognitive psychologist who joined Kimberly-Clark in 1999 and has been a voting representative to ASTM International since 2004.

William Raynor, Ph.D., is a biostatistician. He has been with Kimberly-Clark since 1984 and a participant in ASTM International since 1997.

Martha Tate, Ph.D., is a textile scientist with focus on materials and the wearer. She joined Kimberly-Clark in 1998 and has been an ASTM International representative since 2004.

  • Irving, Texas, USA
  • Manufacturer of consumer goods and protective apparel brands sold in more than 175 countries. Nearly one-quarter of the world’s population purchase K-C products every day.
  • Market: Global
  • Revenue: $21.3 billion (2013)
  • Staff: 58,000 in 37 countries
  • ASTM technical committees with Kimberly-Clark representation: D11; D18; E35; E60; F02; F04; F23; and F29

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.