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 April 2005 How To
Helen Delaney is a former Washington representative and director of global affairs for ASTM International. From 1995 to 1998, she served as standards attaché to the United States Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. She is the president of Delaney Consulting, Inc., of Cambridge, Md., and acts in an advisory capacity to the president of ASTM International.

For assistance with your committee’s internationalization efforts, contact your staff manager.

How to Make Your ASTM Standard the Standard the World Uses

You’ve heard a lot, in the pages of this magazine and at ASTM International meetings, about the international use of ASTM’s standards, about there being “multiple paths” to creating and maintaining globally used standards. You know your ASTM technical committee is developing high-quality standards that could be used around the world, but you’re unsure how to increase multinational participation on your committee or how to leverage your standards on the international stage. Read on...

Someone once said that we got to the moon by making lists. It wasn’t as simple as that, of course, but the idea conveys the commitment, planning and organization behind one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Any standard that is known and used all over the world gets launched in much the same way — with technology, organization and commitment.

Here are stories of four ASTM technical committees that have proven not only that it can be done, but that there are many ways of doing it.

Carbon Black

Carbon black, the primary reinforcing agent in rubber, is used in the manufacture of tires. ASTM Committee D24 on Carbon Black is the world’s source for carbon black test methods and a classification system for carbon black grades that are used in commercial transactions everywhere the product is sold, and the committee is home to technical experts from the world’s major tire manufacturers, household names such as Bridgestone/Firestone, Michelin, and Goodyear. While tires are only a part of the D24 story, it is an impressive one, since industry leaders worldwide (Cabot, Columbian, Continental, Degussa, SidRichardson) are all represented on this committee, which is committed to international standardization.

The members of Committee D24 did not leave their international standards development to chance, nor did they delegate the recognition and acceptance of their standards to any force outside of the global marketplace. They debated long and hard about where to do their international work and about which process they would use to do it. Their strategy was to place the world’s best technology and its standards investment where it was to be most quickly and efficiently updated and maintained, where international membership and input was individualized: ASTM International.

Last year the committee, in a move that signaled its commitment to increasing its international membership, held its April 2004 meeting in Stresa, Italy. The committee chose Stresa because it was centrally located in Europe, and those ASTM members who attended from the United States were able to stay in Europe and visit customers after the meeting. At that meeting (where new experts from India, France, and Germany joined the committee), state-of-the-art presentations were made, a powerful demonstration of the cutting-edge technology that resides in the committee.

Each situation is different, but there is one thing technical committees that are developing international standards have in common: they see their path and take it.

For more information on how D24 on Carbon Black achieved its goals, contact Tim Brooke, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9729).

Amusement Rides

Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices, with a membership in which 15 countries are represented, has developed a standard known around the world. F 2291, Practice for Design of Amusement Rides and Devices, is the most comprehensive standard developed for the amusement industry to date. This committee, made up of amusement ride regulators, inspectors, engineers, technicians, designers, owner/operators and other interested parties, is a “melting pot” of experts, many of whom also serve on similar standards committees in their countries.

The committee’s goal from the outset was to encompass the common elements of existing and in-development standards from around the world in a new and comprehensive design standard. The F24 mission statement for the development of this standard is clear and precise: The creation of a single, universally acceptable standard that defines acceleration limits, allowable G-forces, clearance envelopes, fencing requirements, restraint capabilities and other important aspects of amusement ride design that will be accepted in all countries.

The F24 strategy was to partner with an international industry association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and
Attractions, to support its effort. IAAPA sponsors three meetings a year, in Europe, North America and Asia, and experts gather at these meetings to minimize the major differences between F 2291 and other existing standards and — at the same time — meet the regulatory requirements of all countries. The solution to this sticky problem is to have F 2291 reference over 60 codes, standards, guides, specifications, handbooks and charts.

In this case, the standard in question is a design standard, so there are no overriding historical industry components to overcome, major parks and manufacturers from all over the world are represented on F24, and the differing regulatory and technical requirements are all referenced.

For more information on F24’s strategies, contact Len Morrissey, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9719).


Committee D30 on Composite Materials has another strategy. Rather than create standard material specifications, D30 decided to support the work of other standards groups (internal company standards developers, organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers, and other ASTM committees such as D20 on Plastics), and fill a niche with international test methods for high performance composites, and the standard practices, guides and terminology that support these test methods. According to Rich Fields of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, who is chairman of D30, “The 230+ current members of D30 represent leading experts from the major composites organizations around the world: suppliers, fabricators, end users, research laboratories, testing laboratories, and government agencies. There is significant and rapidly growing international involvement, including at least 38 participants from more than 14 countries outside the U.S.” (1)

Companies such as Lockheed Martin are proof that global businesses with global standards strategies have adopted the multiple-path approach. They use company standards, specifications that are developed in one venue and test methods developed in another. But they choose the best, and they choose the venue that will get the job done. In the case of composites, the de facto creator of test methods is ASTM International.

As one can see from the D30 strategy, multiple paths and choices exist between organizations and processes, and also between component parts of a technology.

For more information on Committee D30’s internationalization, contact Jim Olshefsky, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9714).


Nanotechnology is defined as the ability to build products (of any size) with atomic precision and the projected ability to make things from the bottom up, using techniques and tools that are being developed to put every atom and molecule in a desired place. If this form of molecular engineering is achieved, which seems probable, it will result in a manufacturing revolution with significant economic, social, environmental and military implications.

Organized on Jan. 18, 2005, Committee E56 on Nanotechnology is a brand new ASTM technical committee that (as of this writing) has not created its executive committee. But it already has a stated commitment: to develop a series of standards to serve as the global documents of choice. This trend — to develop international standards from the outset — is evident and growing in certain cutting-edge technologies. The E56 plan is to begin by developing the terminology, thereby creating “language” for the industry. The stakeholders in this committee are government representatives of several countries, academia, multinational companies, and the legal community. The international community is represented by Canada, Egypt, Germany, Japan, Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zimbabwe.

The ASTM committee is already engaged in a targeted global outreach to attract more members from around the world, even as the committee elects officers and writes its bylaws. This is the committee of tomorrow — today.

For more information on Committee E56, contact Pat Picariello,
ASTM International. (phone: 610/832-9720).

What They Have in Common

What these committees share is a commitment to develop the standards the world uses; clearly stated, specific goals; a collection of major international stakeholders; and the world’s best technical experts. As strategists, they have taken full advantage of the opportunities and flexibility that belong to individual participants in ASTM committees.

What they also share is a standards organization that is dedicated to helping them attain their goals, with a philosophy that is in tune with reality. The ASTM philosophy is that there are multiple paths, multiple processes, and multiple venues for developing a standard for worldwide application.

The committees are supported by professional, dedicated staff managers, electronic tools, a streamlined development process, an open-door policy that actively seeks the participation of nations around the world, and a belief that there should be no obstacles to the development of the standards they need.

There is not enough space within this article to mention all who should be mentioned. There are ASTM technical committees, for example, that have signed memorandums of understanding with other international standards committees. In so doing, these committees have agreed to refrain from developing duplicate international standards. Resourcefulness knows no limits, and the demands of the marketplace are met, one way or another.

Arthur D. Schwope, in his last SN article as 2004 chairman of the board of directors, gave us this statistic: “Fifty nations use nearly 2,500 ASTM standards from 109 different technical committees in their regulations or national standards.” (2)

There was a time when that statement would have seemed as preposterous as the notion of putting a man on the moon. //


1 “Unrestricted Participation the Path of Global Acceptance of Standards,” R. Fields, Composites Technology, June 2004.
2 “Relevant, Effective, Efficient…and Collegial,” A.D. Schwope, Standardization News, December 2004.


This article was written with the help of Rich Fields, chairman of Committee D30, and ASTM Staff Managers and Directors Tim Brooke, Kathie Morgan, Len Morrissey, Jim Olshefsky, and Pat Picariello. The section on amusement rides borrowed heavily from an article written by T. Harold Hudson for SN (“A World Standard for Amusement Rides,” August 2003).

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