Smooth changeover predicted for vastly revised ISO 9000
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is taking steps to prepare businesses for November 2000. That's when its highly revised ISO 9000 series of standards for quality management is scheduled for publication. More than 200,000 systems based on current versions of ISO 9000 are operating worldwide in all types of organizations. ISO officials predict that the organizations will be able to adapt to the revisions with little disruption. To help, it has produced a document, "Introduction to the Revision of the ISO 9000 Standards," which summarizes reasons for the revisions and outlines the direction they are taking. The revised units ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 are currently at the stage of "Committee Drafts," which ISO usually does not make public. This time ISO is allowing its national members to distribute copies of the drafts. However, ISO warns that the drafts are "dynamic" and will "certainly evolve" before they reach the status of international standards. Also, ISO/TC 176/SC 2, the ISO technical body responsible for developing the revised standards, has established a Web site at www.bsi.org.uk/iso-tc176-sc2. You may obtain information, too, from ISO's national members, as well as from ISO's own Web site, www.iso.ch .
Instrument programming standards defined by new open consortium
The goal of a new open consortium is to allow the interchange of instruments in test systems without the need for software modifications. The group, formed by instrumentation users and vendors, is the Interchangeable Virtual Instruments (IVI) Foundation (Austin, TX). Building on VXDI plug&play driver standards, the foundation achieves interchangeability by using programming specifications for various types of instruments. Thus, the IVI oscilloscope driver works with all IVI-compatible oscilloscopes, regardless of manufacturer or form factor. The foundation's first five instrument programming specifications are for oscilloscopes/digitizers, digital multimeters, arbitrary waveform generators/function generators, switches/multi-plexers/matrices, and power supplies. Documents for the five are on the foundation's Web site at www.ivifoundation.org. The standardized instrument drivers, IVI maintains, will benefit engineers using GPIB, serial, VXI, PCI, and CompactPCI/PXI products to build test systems. Phone John Pasquarette at (800) 258-7022.
CEN striving to stay relevant amid globalization of trade
Officials of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) are searching for ways to meet immense changes expected in the coming decade. In its new Strategy 2010, CEN plans to redistribute roles among members at both European and national levels and to form new partnerships with other standards groups in Europe. Among proposals considered is the formation of a European Standardization Institute that would coordinate the multitude of standards organizations in Europe. CEN has identified some of its "major challenges." At the top is a progressively shifting emphasis toward international standards. Another challenge is the growing number of corporate consortia agreeing upon specifications without awaiting the publication of standards by CEN and other established standards bodies. CEN officials also express "insecurity" about challenges to intellectual property rights in some areas and corresponding loss of some revenue. Also feared is a reduction in funds from the European Free Trade Assn. following completion of the Single Market in Europe. Phone Georg Hongler in Brussels at +32 2 519 68 11.
U.S. air-conditioning group adopts first international standard
In a breakthrough for the globalization of standards, a major American industry association has adopted its first international standard. The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI, Arlington, VA) on January 1, 2000, will replace three of its performance standards with ISO Standard 13256, "Water-Source Heat Pumps--Testing and Rating for Performance." ARI's Water-Source Heat Pump Subsection will use the international standard as the basis for its certification programs. Says subsection chairman Craig Fischbach: "This single standard makes it easier to complete energy analysis calculations and allows the manufacturer to design systems for the real world instead of using the categorical prescribed design conditions." Phone John Nash at (703) 524-8800.
ISO publishes fresh guidelines for equipment, vehicle designs
New international standards from ISO include several of interest to design engineers. Topics covered include: safety distances to prevent contact of machinery with lower limbs of workers; terminology and commercial specifications for tractor-dozers; governing systems for reciprocating internal combustion engines, and design of valve protection caps and valve guards for industrial and medical gas cylinders. Phone the ISO publications office in Geneva at +41 22 733 34 30.