Standards Update

By: 
May 19, 1997

Uncle Sam steps up effort to use industry standards

Hordes of suppliers to auto makers this year have been obtaining certification under QS 9000 standards for quality management. Without the certification, many cannot continue to do business with the Big Three manufacturers. Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford officials adopted the QS 9000 requirement because they felt the ISO 9000 series published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) does not go far enough. ISO's version of quality management standards, they contend, falls short in several areas, including process control, employee involvement, and customer approval. Already, however, automakers are anxious to get out of the costly process of standards writing, according to Paul Scicchitano, managing editor of Quality Systems Update newsletter. Both American and foreign auto executives are urging an ISO technical committee to include the QS 9000 additions in its next versions of ISO 9001 and 9002.

Business group backs ISO 14000, but warns against its misuse

A group that promotes global interests of American industry endorses ISO 14000--with some strong "ifs." ISO 14000 is a family of world standards for environmental management systems. Officials of the United States Council for International Business say the standards could improve both the environment and world trade. But, they add the following provisos: ISO 14000 must stay strictly voluntary. Governments should not use it in their procurement policies. Company documentation developed pursuant to ISO 14000 should remain only for use of internal management. Finally, constant effort must be made to hold down costs of implementing ISO 14000. For example, the council says, self-declaration and third-party registration could give some organizations the flexibility to match their business requirements with their use of standards for environmental management.


New global guidelines target power-transformer safety

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has published a new standard dealing with safety aspects of power transformers. IEC's Technical Committee 96, which specializes in transformers and power supply units, drafted IEC 61558-1 (first edition). The new guidelines cover requirements and tests for protection against the usual electrical, mechanical, and fire hazards as well as abnormal situations in various uses of transformers. IEC 61558-1 applies to dry type transformers having either encapsulated or non-encapsulated windings and to transformers incorporating electronic circuits. Included in the standard are transformers for toys, switch-mode power supplies, and general use. Other IEC technical committees probably will apply IEC 61558-1 to transformers associated with specific items of equipment within their domain.


Industry specifications collide on information superhighway

Telecommunication, broadcast, cable, and computer industries--each with its own set of standards--are converging on the information superhighway. The scramble to harmonize these standards is intense among many groups. The Information Infrastructure Standards Panel of the American National Standards Institute has pinpointed more than 100 crucial standards conflicts in such areas as network interconnection, security, and electronic publishing. The scope of the effort is detailed in a new book, Web Publishing Unleashed, by William R. Stanek. The book, produced by Sams.net Publishing of Indianapolis, credits three groups with spearheading development of standards and specifications for the Internet and networked computing in general. They are ISO, the Internet Engineering Task Force, and the World Wide Web Consortium. Active, too, is the National Committee for Information Technology Standardization. It proposes adopting more than 230 standards for information technology ranging from computer graphics to data exchange.

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