CEN updates its guidebook for selling in Europe
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has updated its book, "Standards for Access to the European Market." The 496-page volume helps firms pinpoint the status of European standards for their types of products. In addition to background on CEN, the book contains sections on each of the 16 main sectors in which CEN provides standards for the European Union. For each sector, the book describes the program and names the professional and trade bodies involved in drafting standards. It also outlines progress in the sectors' work programs. Among areas getting increased attention by drafters of CEN standards is leisure sports. For example, CEN recently adopted a European Standard for paragliders. It specifies test methods for the resistance of a paraglider to static and dynamic loads and sets the minimum strength for its qualification. To order the revised book, listed as ISBN 92-9097-384-6, contact Myriam Balfroid at CEN headquarters in Brussels. Phone: (32 2) 519 6852. Fax: (32 2) 519 6819.
Interactive CD-ROM trains for ISO 9000 registration
A multimedia training tool, the "ISO 9000 Registration Series," is designed to help companies get and keep ISO 9000 registration. Reality Interactive, Eden Prairie, MN, has produced the first Windows-based CD-ROM of the five- part series. That disk, called "The Executive Guide to ISO 9000," helps managers understand the process and decide whether to become registered. Other parts will provide a 12-step blueprint for documenting and carrying out the quality system required. You may order the series from the American Society for Quality Control in Milwaukee. Phone: (414) 272-8575.
Needless duplication reported in global standards systems
U.S. firms that market internationally often must deal with standards systems that are burdensome and unnecessary. So concludes a report from a committee of the National Research Council. It cites what has happened since Europeans adopted ISO 9000 standards for quality management. Many U.S. companies now must comply with another quality system standard that is nearly the same as those they already meet. The report recommends that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative "aggressively" seek to negotiate mutual recognition agreements. Under them, each side would accept product testing, certification, and accreditation recognized by the other. If such agreements fall through, it adds, the U.S. should retaliate against unfair practices.
Software introduces greenhorns to 'virtual instruments'
The rising need to meet world standards brings heavier demands on testing and measurement at factories and laboratories. Virtual instruments, or "VIs," have come to the rescue. VIs combine computers with programmable instruments. No longer must firms depend entirely on instrument vendors to build special-purpose test devices. VIs allow computer users to design their own instrument programs and interfaces. To help teach this new technology, National Instruments, Austin, TX, has unveiled a student version of its heavy-duty LabVIEW software. LabVIEW stands for Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench. Neophytes can link either a PC or a Macintosh to data-acquisition or instrument-control hardware. They can apply their systems to a variety of fields, including fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and automatic control systems. The computer display looks like the front panel of a traditional instrument, with knobs, push buttons, graphs, and other controls and indicators.
Quality fervor kindles flow-charting programs
The rising need among companies to document their quality processes has been a boon to makers of flow-charting software. Nearly all those software firms have updated their programs to include special features for standards-conscious companies. Clear Software, Inc., of Newton, MA, designed its allCLEAR® III for Windows to streamline business process re-engineering and define quality control procedures. When you change the text in allCLEAR, your diagram automatically updates, and vice versa. Patton & Patton Software Corp., Morgan Hill, CA, is a pioneer in flow charting software. It has released version 2.0 of Flow Charting 4 for Windows. Among its five new templates are more shapes to represent ISO 9000-related steps. Other improvements include a spell-checking dictionary and options such as a visible grid and automatic text entry. Arcland, Inc., Mal- vern, PA, has come out with FlowModel®. A Windows-based program, it boasts features for total quality management and information systems analysis and design. FlowModel's menu structure and standard toolbar buttons are identical to those in the Microsoft Office software suite. Micrografx, of Richardson, TX, meanwhile, has upgraded its ABC Flowcharter® 4.0 to include better links to results from statistical process control.