European code writers tackle sports,
gym, playground gear
Engineers will be redesigning much equipment used in sports stadiums,
amusement parks, gyms, and playgrounds in Europe. That follows stepped-up
efforts by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to reduce recreation
injuries. CEN recently proclaimed a European Standard for soccer goal posts. It
seeks to reduce hazards from protruding hooks and instability. Another fresh
standard covers the design and testing of recreational water slides more than 2m
high. The code specifies loads, surfaces, and depths of splashdown areas. CEN
also has issued a set of rulings on paragliding equipment. In draft status are
CEN standards for benches and other stationary equipment for strength training,
including devices with pedal cranks. Meanwhile, CEN is working up standards for
skin-diving and mountaineering gear. Playgrounds will be the next target of
CEN's Technical Committee 136. Members say playground paraphernalia present
hazards of head entrapments and hard surfaces.
Military spec system becoming more and more civilian
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is ahead of schedule in its drive to adopt civilian standards in place of many military specifications. Two years ago, the Pentagon gave its suppliers permission to replace Mil-Q-9858, its quality management standard, with the international ISO 9000 series. Last August DoD scrubbed Mil-Q-9858 completely, in favor of ISO-9001 or 9002. The action came more than a year sooner than required. The armed services separately are taking similar steps with other mil specs. A report from the National Research Council urges the military to adopt commercial standards also in its statistical methods for testing and evaluating weapons. The study suggests that DoD consider standards used by auto, semiconductor, and nuclear industries in CAD and in engineering systems using computer simulation models.
ISO 9000 engineering firms top competitors in profits
Which companies in the mechanical engineering manufacturing sector in the United Kingdom reap the best profits? Those with ISO-9000 registrations, according to a survey taken by Surrey University. Researchers looked at the performance of 222 firms registered under the international series of standards for quality management. They found the companies to be two to three times more profitable than their non-registered competitors. The registered companies also topped the industry average in five other financial and sales measurements. Small ventures fared especially well. That "blows away the myth that ISO 9000 doesn't work for small firms," comments Ron Turner, managing director of Lloyds Register Quality Assurance. His organization registered the quality systems at all 222 companies. The mechanical engineering sector has the highest ratio of ISO 9000 registrations among industries in the United Kingdom.
Precision metrology program shaves calibration costs
Two federal agencies have teamed up to enable manufacturers to save money and time in calibrating step gages up to 1.35m long. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) now uses the Department of Energy's high-accuracy Moore M-60 coordinate measuring machine in Oak Ridge, TN. Originally used in producing components for nuclear weapons, the M-60 may be the world's most accurate CMM of its class. Before, NIST could not calibrate step gages longer than 750 mm. American manufacturers of complex mechanical products had to send their in-house standards to a European laboratory. Now, NIST can do a calibration for $3,000 in fewer than 45 days. The foreign service charges $3,500 plus shipping for a service that takes 90 to 180 days.
Standards can improve designs, says Japanese quality expert
Do standards stifle creativity? Quite the contrary, insists Hitoshi Kume, a Japanese expert on quality management. When engineers work according to design standards, he maintains, they spend less time questioning and communicating. They know the reliability of standard parts without having to test them. "Much design and development work can be dispensed with," Kume adds, "and this permits designers to design highly reliable products by concentrating their efforts on new, untried parts and the interfaces between these and standard parts." If engineers apply a fixed formula for strength calculations, they do not have to solve differential equations each time. Further, they do not need to show standard parts in drawings; they need only specify the part number. Engineering professor Kume is the chief Japanese delegate to the technical committee on quality assurance of the International Standards Organization. He elaborates on those views in Management by Quality, a book published in Tokyo. To get it in the United States, phone Quality Resources at (800) 247-8519.