U.S., European carmakers draft plan for common
Imagine building a car that would meet the standards of all countries without
changes. Automakers from the United States and the European Union (EU) have
agreed to try to make that possible. After two days of meetings, the automakers
launched a program to write mutual standards and certification requirements for
their products. They say that clashing standards for car design have been a
stronger barrier to transatlantic auto trade than tariffs. By November, the
group plans to start harmonizing environmental standards, including guidelines
on exhaust emissions and noise. A year later, the U.S.-EU team hopes to be ready
to begin work on seating systems, including safety belts. Next on the priority
list will be standards for crash tests, bumpers, and anti-theft systems. Don't
expect worldwide or even transatlantic acceptance of a single set of car
standards any time soon, advises Martin Bangemann, EU commissioner for industry.
More likely, he says, will be an intermediate phase in which a country
recognizes a standard of another country if it has "functional equivalence" to
its own requirement.
Standards experts assigned to U.S. embassy staffs
The United States is shoring up its standards links with selected countries. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is striving to help commercial service counselors in foreign embassies and missions become savvy about standards. NIST has assigned standards experts to embassies in India and Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. mission to the European Union in Brussels. The agency also recently nominated standards attache[ac]s for embassies in Buenos Aires and Mexico City. Among issues they will tackle are proposed Mexican regulations on the energy efficiency of refrigerators and freezers. The standards would be 20 to 30% tougher than those in the United States and Canada. "The difficulty in meeting these proposed Mexican standards will be compounded by the necessity to overdesign appliances for that market," says Bob Holding, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, based in Chicago. "Manufacturers will need to build products with heavier, less-energy-efficient electrical components to accommodate voltage fluctuations."
CEN sets safety
specifications for farm, construction gear
A parade of new European standards deals with the safety of machinery used in agriculture, construction, and forestry. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) adopted EN 632, detailing ways to reduce hazards in harvesters, and EN 703, setting guidelines for single-operator silage cutters for mixing and distribution. Both standards cover machines that are either tractor-driven or self-propelled. Another technical committee drafted standards that CEN approved for soil-working machines powered by an auxiliary motor or by a tractor that's pulling it. A new CEN standard, EN 747, specifies safety requirements for backhoe loaders, tractors, and other earth-moving machinery. EN 996 applies to the design and construction of piling gear. Included are machines for road milling, joint cutting, soil stabilization, and compaction. CEN has published a "prestandard" on paver finishers. It needs some revisions by a technical committee before it appears in CEN's Official Journal. Also being prepared are two standards covering dumpers and hydraulic excavators.
International group publishes standard on standards writing
Having trouble identifying and finding existing standards? So are lots of other standards users. That's why the Standards Engineering Society (SES), an international non-profit group, has published "Recommended Practice for Standards Designation and Organization." SES hopes standards writers will use its creation as a guide to uniform ways of designating standards and classifying them into broad generic types. You may order the standard from SES in Dayton, OH. Phone: (513) 258-1955. FAX: (513) 258-0018. Price is $20 per copy for SES members, $25 for non-members.
involvement urged in setting shipbuilding rules
American shipbuilders must get more involved in setting standards in their industry. So concludes a study by the Committee on National Needs in Maritime Technology, a branch of the National Research Council. The panel says it is crucial that Americans hold key positions in the Technical Committee on Ships and Marine Technology of the International Organization for Standardization. Three subcommittees, it says, are especially important to U.S. shipyards: Life Saving and Fire Protection, Marine Environment Protection, and Piping and Machinery. The report cites an example of the harm that can come from giving short shrift to the drafting of standards. In the 1960s, international standards were set for containers. Even though two U.S. companies owned 95% of the world's containers at that time, the standards on size excluded their existing containers.