Global environmental standards stir worries
on Capitol Hill
Industry will not greet the ISO 14000 environmental standards with open arms.
That was evident at hearings before the technology subcommittee of the U.S.
House of Representatives. The sessions explored possible effects of ISO 14000,
which the Organization of International Standards (ISO) officially publishes
this summer. ISO 14000 is a series of voluntary standards that provides
organizations with a structure for managing environmental impacts. James A.
Thomas, president of the American Society for Testing and Materials, was among
those testifying at the Capitol. He warned that the United States must not allow
ISO 14000 to "be used by European governments, as ISO 9000 has been used, to
create additional hurdles for U.S. industry to surmount while seeking access to
European markets." June Ling of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
complained that ISO standards tend to reflect European, not American,
technology. National stan-dards groups of more than 80 countries are member
bodies of ISO. Each gets one vote on a proposed standard. Thus, the European
Union has 15 votes in ISO; the United States only one. An official of the
National Institute of Standards and Technology, however, contended that ISO
14000 will help firms avoid multiple registrations and certifications when
moving products across borders.
Survey of customers indicates ISO 9000 does improve quality
For years, doubts have prevailed about the effectiveness of ISO 9000, the series of standards for quality management. Helsinki University of Technology in Finland decided to gather opinions from long-standing customers of firms certified under ISO 9001 or 9002. The university sent questionnaires to customers of 31 such firms in Finland. Customers rated factors including technical quality of products and promptness in deliveries. An analysis of the 801 acceptable questionnaires returned indicates that 90% of the companies showed significant improvement in quality after getting their certifications. Scoring best among non-service firms were those with certification for ISO 9001, the part of the ISO 9000 series that embraces management of design functions. The survey team followed up by asking the suppliers why they think their performance got better. About 70% gave the main credit to their quality system based on ISO 9000.
Design guidelines studied for safety of truck cabs
Possible standards for crashworthiness of truck cabs are under active development in the United States. They are likely to be much broader than current regulations in Europe. A task force of the Society of Automotive Engineers, in cooperation with the U.S. government, is now in the third and last research phase of the project. The team has concentrated on hazards in 180-deg rollovers of cabs, accidents that kill many truckers. Sometimes roofs crush to the level of the dashboard, leaving no survival space for occupants. The only performance standards for cab structures are in Europe. Most stringent is the Swedish set of three crush and slam tests to the top and back of cabs. A problem in designing such tests is the paucity of reliable reports on actual truck crashes. "Engineers who design trucks don't have good tools for designing," contends Ken Campbell, a mechanical engineer with the Center for National Truck Statistics at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. "Truck accidents are much different from car accidents, but few police are familiar with heavy trucks." Campbell assessed standards for truck cabs at a seminar in Philadelphia sponsored by Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp.
Hot issue picked as topic for yearly essay contest
"U.S. National vs. International Standards." That will be the theme of a paper competition--part of this year's U.S. World Standards Day events. The American National Standards Institute and the National Institute of Standards and Technology co-sponsor the U.S. recognition of World Standards Day, which is October 16. The essay winner will receive $2,500 and a plaque at ceremonies in Washington, DC. Almost anyone can enter. Contestants should present pros and cons of national and international standards. Papers can offer the point of view of a particular organization or industry, or personal experiences backed by research stemming from those experiences. Entry deadline is September 1. You can get copies of the rules and entry forms by phoning Carolyn Anderson at 919-549-1877 or faxing 919-547-6018.
New directory lists NVLA labs
AU.S. government program recognizes some 700 American and foreign testing and calibration laboratories as meeting global standards. A new directory lists the labs, all accredited under the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. To get a copy phone 301-975-4016. Ask for SP 810.