Standards are absolutely critical in the design process
and provide many benefits, such as uniformity that makes
the design process efficient, and safety which enables
the protection of people, among other factors, says
Design News: How familiar
are engineers with the various standards that govern
Wing: In the
industrial world, they are very familiar with standards.
They have to be, because in this global economy there
are no borders. In the less industrialized parts of
the world, they may not be very familiar with standards.
In either case, engineers often spend a lot of time
Q: How many standards-writing
bodies are there?
A: There are
over 440 standards-writing bodies. In the U.S., in addition
to Underwriters Laboratories and ASTM, there are also
such organizations as the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers, and the Society of Automotive Engineers,
as well as other organizations. Actually, there is a
growing number of standards in the US It seems that
many societies are protecting their interests by writing
standards. In Europe, there is some consolidation toward
pan-European standards. That consolidation is not evident
in the US
Q: What are some of the
benefits of engineering standards?
benefits are uniformity, which makes it easier to design
products for different localities, and safety. Standards?particularly
building standards?protect people from fire, electrical
shock, and other hazards.
Q: How do engineers know
what standards apply to their design projects?
A: Often, they
don't. Engineering schools are supposed to teach students
about standards, but often engineers know about standards
because they belong to a standards committee or a society
that writes them. IHS is actually the only company that
reprints all standards, and we update them every 30
or 60 days. That helps engineers because they can't
collect all the various standards they need on their
own. We have relationships with more than 400 standards
writers around the world, and we are the exclusive distributor
for UL standards. If you compare depth and breadth of
standards republished or provided, IHS is the only company
that can provide all standards engineers need, although
there are a few smaller companies that provide smaller
collections of standards. IHS is the exclusive or primary
distributor of standards for AGMA, AES, AIA, NEMA, EIA,
TIA, GM, John Deere, Navistar, and New Holland.
Q: Are engineers involved
in the writing of standards?
A: Yes. If
their companies or professional organizations are members
of standards-writing bodies such as ASTM or UL, their
companies can nominate them to serve on standards-writing
committees, where the work is all done.
How long does
it take a standards-writing committee to produce a standard?
A:It can take
from months to years because of the extensive research
the committees engage in. The members debate all points.
Q: How do you distribute
standards to engineers who need them?
subscribe to our service, buying one standards document
at a time or more. We make standards available on CD-ROM,
and that is important internationally, where some companies
don't have the infrastructure to receive them over the
Internet. But, we have also started distributing standards
over the Internet because engineers, particularly in
the US, were asking for Internet access to standards.
We pay a high fee to the standards bodies in order to
make standards available over the Internet.