20, 1998 Design News
Technical news from around
by Walter Wingo, Standards Editor
Uncle Sam intensifies effort to invoke
The National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST) has stepped up its campaign to assure that U.S.
innovations are not shortchanged by the system of international
standards. NIST will host a conference on the issue
in Washington, DC, September 23 in conjunction with
World Standards Day. The agency hopes to develop "a
reasonable plan for an effective national standards
strategy to meet global goals in both standards and
conformity assessment." Meanwhile, NIST has set
up a special toll-free phone number (888) 591-TEST and
an e-mail address of email@example.com
for reporting suspected standards abuses
in dealings with the European Union. NIST especially
wants to know of instances in which Europeans have required
U.S. firms to repeat compliance measurements in Europe.
Later this year a laboratory accreditation system that
NIST has spearheaded becomes operational. NIST officials
hope the system, called the National Cooperation on
Laboratory Accreditation, will enable tests to be performed
only once, with worldwide acceptance of the data.
How other nations out-maneuver U.S. on
Why is the U.S. government getting so concerned about
international standards? Growing numbers of U.S. firms
are finding trade gates swung shut as compliance with
standards developed overseas becomes the price of admission.
So complains NIST Director Raymond Kammer. Equally disturbing
is the way foreign firms determine conformity with their
standards. U.S. companies often must demonstrate adherence
not just through testing at home, but also by duplicate,
costly, and time-consuming testing overseas. "It
is fair to say that European governments and industries
believe they can create a competitive advantage in world
markets by strongly influencing the content of international
standards," Kammer contends. "Europe does
have a strategy, and it is up running at full throttle."
Theme for 1998 paper contest: Guidelines
for fee or free?
"Standards for Fee or Free: What Are the Consequences?"
That's the theme chosen by the Standards Engineering
Society for its 1998 paper competition. Contestants
are to write between 2,500 and 4,500 words on the debate
of oversales, pricing, and availability of standards.
Each paper should make a case for whether U.S., regional,
and/or international standards should be fee-based or
provided free to all interested parties. This year's
winning entries will be awarded during the annual World
Standards Day Dinner on September 23 in Washington,
DC. The author or authors of the winning submission
will receive $2,500 and a plaque. Second and third prizes
are $1,000 and $500, respectively. Because of the nature
of this year's topic, the 1998 paper competition is
open to anyone in the world and need not emphasize the
U.S. perspective. You can obtain Internet entry forms
and rules from www.ses-standards.org/paper_competition.asp
Butt-type couplers recommended for charging
A milestone has been reached in the long effort to
establish a single charging standard for electric vehicles.
After 18 months of testing and deliberations, a Society
of Automotive Engineers (SAE) task force has adopted
a charge coupler design based on butt-type contact technology.
The design thus becomes part of the J1772 standard of
SAE. The action sets the stage for marketplace competition
in inductive charging systems. The task force also considered
pin and sleeve technology, which the Japan Electric
Vehicle Assn. adopted as the standard in Japan. SAE
J1772 will continue to reference this standard.
Quest for better quality spawns new software,
An array of aids is emerging for engineers who must
meet the rapid growth of standards for quality management.
SPSS Inc. has come out with TrialRunr Windows software
for design of experiments (DOE). The product offers
41 design methods for DOE, a branch of statistics that
helps reduce variation and costs in manufacturing. Included
are Taguchi, Latin Square, Central Composite, and Optimal.
Trial Run evaluates your responses to a series of questions
and leads you to the optimal design for your situation.
To see Trial Run in action, visit www.spss.com/software/TrialRun/
on the Internet. Meanwhile, the third edition
of the manual for the auto industry's QS-9000 series
of standards is now available. Among additions are new
test-laboratory requirements for in-house laboratories
of suppliers. For more information go to www.aiag.org
. Quality Resources ( www.qualityresources.com
) has updated two of its most popular books. The second
edition of "SPC Simplified Workbook" provides
case studies and exercises in statistical process control.
The eighth edition of "Baldrige Award Winning Quality,"
by Mark Graham Brown, contains this year's revised criteria
and a new chapter on preparing for a site visit from
the board of Baldrige examiners.