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Industry and SDOs
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 May 2006 From the Editor's Desk
E-mail Maryann Gorman

Industry and SDOs

This month we step away a bit from the usual technical-committee activity focus in our feature section to explore industry responses to standards issues. Members of standards developing organizations such as ASTM International create and update market-relevant standards all day every day; research and development professionals, manufacturers, and testing laboratories use those standards with the same frequency. Even when the latter participate in the creation of the standards they use, the sheer number of standards that have been developed over the years, the advancement of new technology, and other factors conspire to make a challenge of choosing the right standard specification or test method for the job.

Take the automotive industry, for example. With hundreds, if not thousands of components being supplied to multiple original equipment manufacturers by an international, multi-tiered supply chain, the number of standards being complied with and used for testing is dizzying.

Recently, an industry group that supplies car seats to OEMs created the Molded Polyurethane Foam Industry Panel to review the standards that were being used to specify and test various aspects of the foam. What they found was a startling situation that had simply grown out of the admirable desire, on the part of OEMs and their suppliers, to standardize over the course of many years. For example, as Roy Pask describes in his feature, the panel found that there were 32 methods for measuring foam firmness, 10 compression set methods and 12 different fatigue tests for seating foam cushions. So the group set out to evaluate the tests and agree on some common methodologies. The result to date of the panel’s ongoing work has already been the coordination of standards development across SDOs and OEMs, simplifying the universe of test methods and specifications from which to choose when designing and manufacturing car seats.

In the same way the members of the foam industry panel set aside the fact that they were competitors, so the Strategic Standardization Forum for Aerospace — a cooperative organization consisting of key leaders from aerospace companies, standards developing organizations, airlines, and government — came together recently to articulate its position on the utilization of standards from a variety of sources. We are reprinting the SSFA’s position paper, which calls for the freedom to select standards based on their technical merit and not their SDO label. I hope you’ll agree the examples provided in this month’s issue highlight the mutually beneficial relationship of standards developing organizations and industry.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

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