ISO's sluggish pace, high costs prompt demands
for rapid reform
The Geneva-based Central Secretariat of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is under attack from many ISO members. Leading the charge is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the U.S. representative to ISO. Growth of world trade has swelled demand for global standards. However, ANSI President Sergio Mazza contends: "Increasingly, this demand is being fulfilled by international consortia because many believe that the ISO process is too slow and expensive." Among industries that have sidestepped ISO by setting up standards-forming consortia are chemicals, consumer electronics, information technology, and photography. "Without dramatic improvements," Mazza adds, "ISO faces the risk of losing more major business sectors." He says the Central Secretariat must do more with less, just as many ISO members have done under budget pressures. In response, the ISO Council has ordered an ad hoc group to come up with suggestions for speeding operations and cutting fees. The group is to make its first report this month.
Pentagon's MILSPECs keep fading in favor of industry standards
More than 4,000 U.S. military specifications (MILSPECs) and standards (MILSTDs) bit the dust in the past two-and-a-half years. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has adopted more than 7,500 non-government standards, comprising nearly a fifth of all the specifications and standards listed in the Defense Department Index. The effort to reduce MILSPECs and embrace industry standards began in June 1994. It is accelerating, according to Paul G. Kaminski, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology. Speaking to a meeting of standards experts in Arlington, VA, Kaminski said benefits of the reform are starting to appear. He cited savings on major programs, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition, the C-17, the SMART-T, "and on thousands of small purchases of items like T-shirts and socks." Today, a program manager must first obtain a waiver and justify why the use of a MILSPEC or MILSTD is necessary. Before, the program manager had to justify the use of anything other than an approved MILSPEC or MILSTD.
NIST drafts global guidelines for evaluating machine tools
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is playing a key role in updating international standards for evaluating machine tools. In late 1955, NIST's Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory took over a job pre-viously assigned to a European standards organization. The NIST lab became the secretariat, or administrative headquarters, for ISO's subcommittee on test conditions for metal-cutting machine tools. Since then, the subcommittee has landed global approval of 11 new or revised standards and is circulating 10 draft documents for industry comment. Four of the pending ISO standards for evaluating machining centers incorporate a U.S. guideline developed by a committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Certifications under ISO 9000 leap 34% in nine months
Organizations around the world continue to embrace ISO 9000, the international standards for quality management. At least 127,389 ISO 9000 certificates had been issued in 99 countries up to the end of 1995. That was up from 95,266 certificates in 89 nations at the end of the previous March. The figures come from the latest certification survey by Mobil Corporation's offices around the globe. The United Kingdom had 41.3% of the certifications by last count. The rest of Europe had 31.4%; Australia and New Zealand, 8.3%; North America, 8.0%; the Far East, 7.2%, and the rest of the world, 3.8%. Thirteen countries appeared in the survey for the first time. They are Afghanistan, Barbados, Curacao, Ecuador, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Nigeria, Uruguay, Vietnam, and Yemen. An analysis of three fourths of all valid certificates shows 66.0% were for ISO 9002, 33.1% for ISO 9001, and 0.9% for ISO 9003.
Techniques for ensuring quality taught via CD-ROM, booklet
With the spread of ISO 9000, awareness of modern methods of quality control has entered all aspects of production from design to sales. Quality Resources of New York City has come out with two products to help engineers keep abreast of two such QC methods: statistical process control (SPC) and failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA). SPC Workout is a CD-ROM multimedia package that guides you through interactive exercises. Engineers throughout a firm can use it to learn advanced SPC techniques, including how to pick the best chart to use, how to set up a chart, and how to conduct a process capability study. The other publication, The Basics of FMEA, is a pocket-sized how-to booklet about a process that is a required tool for the automotive industry's QS-9000 standard. FMEAs identify special causes of variation before they occur--preferably at the design stage. Quality Resources' phone number is 800-247-8519.