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Consensus Rules for More Than 100 Years PUBLIC ACCESS

Mechanical Engineering 136(11), 37 (Nov 01, 2014) (1 page) Paper No: ME-14-NOV3; doi: 10.1115/1.2014-Nov-3

Abstract

In this article, Bob Sims, the President of ASME, discusses how the consensus process in the development of ASME Codes and Standards has ensured that the views of all stakeholders are considered and that that no one stakeholder group can dominate the process. Bob Sims views that one of the great strengths of the ASME Codes and Standards development process is the ability to identify the need for new rules and to assemble the world’s leading experts in the field to develop the rules. ASME Codes have resulted in saving thousands of lives by improving the integrity of not only pressure equipment, but also items as diverse as elevators and cranes. ASME has an excellent and well-deserved reputation worldwide for producing high-quality codes and standards that meet the needs of manufacturers and materials suppliers, equipment users, regulators, and other stakeholders.

Article

I first became involved in Code activities when the Special Working Group (now Subgroup) on High Pressure Vessels was formed in 1981.1 was immediately impressed with the expertise, hard work, and dedication that my fellow committee members showed in drafting a new “clean sheet” code for high pressure vessels.

This effort was initiated by a small group of volunteers, working with the staff, as a result of technical papers presented at Pressure Vessel and Piping Conferences in the late 1970s. They documented failures that had occurred in high pressure vessels.

At that time, the rules in the existing pressure vessel codes, such as the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section VIII, Divisions 1 and 2, were not adequate, so the vessels were designed as “state specials.” Because of the unique requirements for materials and design rules covering thick wall construction and specialized fabrication requirements such as autofrettage, it was difficult for regulatory authorities to determine whether these vessels were safe.

One of the great strengths of the ASME codes and standards development process is the ability to identify the need for new rules and to assemble the world’s leading experts in the field to develop the rules. In the case of the high pressure vessel code, experts from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, and Japan all made significant contributions.

It took 17 years of hard work, including extensive reviews by hundreds of experts on many committees, subcommittees, subgroups, and working groups, to be sure that we “got it right” before first publication of Section VIII, Division 3 on High Pressure Vessels. Since that time, the maintenance of Division 3 has resulted in the addition of rules for composite wrapped vessels and rules for hydrogen service, among many other updates.

The most impressive thing to me about ASME Codes and Standards is the consensus process that has been honed over 100 years to ensure that the views of all stakeholders are considered, but also to ensure that no one stakeholder group can dominate the process. It is also gratifying to see the many thousands of volunteers who dedicate so much time and energy to the development and maintenance of ASME codes, standards, and the associated certification processes.

We hear a lot about the so-called “Me Generation,” but anyone who is active in Standards and Certification can tell you that does not apply to S&C volunteers. Participation from outside of North America is extensive and is growing. This is in contrast to codes and standards activities in some other parts of the world, which often limit participation to a selected group.

ASME Codes have resulted in saving thousands of lives by improving the integrity of not only pressure equipment, but also items as diverse as elevators and cranes. ASME has an excellent and well-deserved reputation worldwide for producing high quality codes and standards that meet the needs of manufacturers and materials suppliers, equipment users, regulators, and other stakeholders.

The complexities of modern technology demand more attention to codes and standards and ASME enters the second 100 years of this activity ready to meet those needs in many areas, such as alternative energy sources and advanced manufacturing.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
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