Work quickens on new guidelines for environment management
Drafters of global standards are rapidly forming guidelines for environmental management that could have a big affect on product design. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has seven working groups developing separate sections of a new ISO 1400 series. The groups, under Technical Committee 207, pattern many of the standards after the highly-popular ISO 9000. That is the series for managing the quality of a firm's daily operations. ISO 1400, however, deals with those operations as they influence the environment. ISO plans to release the new standards next year. Development is progressing at twice the usual speed for such projects. TC 207 is under pressure to finish soon. The European Economic Community wants to blend the standards with pending directives. Austria already has adopted a draft of ISO 1400 as national standards. The draft puts much emphasis on life-cycle assessment, giving special attention to product design and materials. It incorporates many current environmental standards in participating countries. Talk abounds of eventually merging ISO 9000 and ISO 1400 into a single series of standards for quality management.
Trend among world auto makers: interchangeable parts
Auto engineers around the world are increasingly called upon to use common parts in their designs. It's one way manufacturers seek to cut costs of development and production. In France, Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen agreed to widen standardization of spare parts. They already jointly make gear boxes. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, meanwhile, has developed a set of design standards for auto parts. The group hopes that software based on the standards will be ready this summer. Thus, makers of die casts and components can share CAD data.
Internet becoming useful tool for harmonizing standards
Like so many others, makers and users of standards are latching onto the Internet. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has launched ANSI Online, a server for the World Wide Web. This new resource offers global access to current news about activities in national and international standards and conformity assessment. The Web address for the service is http:www.- ansi.org/home.asp. Some information will overlap that on ISO Online, which the Geneva-based world standards maker introduced recently through the Web. Another, more ambitious project seems headed for the Internet. It is the National Standards Systems Network, a project led by ANSI and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. The undertaking's aim is to link electronically some 40,000 U.S. voluntary standards and 30,000 others, including international, military, and other government standards. The team that has been working on the project since last summer expects to finish a needs assessment this summer. It will begin testing a prototype next year and intends to have the system in partial operation within three years.
Booklet for machinery designers defines new safety requirements
The European Economic Community (EEC) this year put into effect a new directive for machinery safety. It mandates use of specific types of safety switches and interlocks. Unless manufacturers obey the directive, they cannot sell machinery in the EEC. To help design engineers meet these and other new machinery standards, E&E Controls Inc., of Hawthorne, NY, offers a free booklet, "Passport to Safety." The 24-page publication discusses the applications and benefits of an array of new, certified machine guard switches and interlocks. Included are descriptions of tamper-resistant and fail-safe devices. For copies of the booklet, phone E&E Controls at (914) 769-5000.
System seeks global recognition of ISO 9000 certifications
Businesses clamor for a single certificate that the whole world will accept as evidence that they conform to ISO 9000 standards. They want to rid themselves of the hassle and expense of multiple audits and registration programs required to satisfy customers in different lands. ISO has approved a plan of action to meet the corporate demand. A voluntary arrangement, called Quality System Assessment Recognition (QSAR), could be in place by late this year. Accreditation bodies wishing to join QSAR will undergo assessment by their peers using criteria from ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). If accepted, the accreditation bodies can then confer upon organizations that register quality systems the right to award the QSAR logo to companies. The hope is that the logo will receive universal acceptance. The QSAR program this summer will begin taking applications for membership from national accreditation bodies. After a launch membership of 10 accreditation bodies has been picked, a central staff will be recruited to administer QSAR. ISO and IEC will select members of a QSAR board and will rule on the board's recommendations.