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ASME Standards and Certification: Now and Beyond PUBLIC ACCESS

As The World Changes, So Must an Organization that Seeks to Serve Emerging Markets and Technologies.

[+] Author Notes

The authors constitute the management team of the ASME Standards and Certification directorate. June Ling is Associate Executive Director: William 8erger. Michael Merker. Mark Sheehan. and David Wizda are Managing Directors.

Mechanical Engineering 131(06), 22-26 (Jun 01, 2009) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2009-JUN-2

One could not look to the future of ASME codes, standards, and conformity assessment without remembering and building upon the organization's past. That past includes 125 years of experience in formulating technical solutions (e.g. standards) to enhance the safety and quality oflife of people, thereby assisting governments in meeting their public service objectives and assisting industries to economically and reliably produce equipment based on collective and shared knowledge. ASME is widely recognized for its codes and standards, and this success is directly attributable to the contributions and commitments of the thousands of technical and subject matter experts serving as volunteer committee members. This importance of the volunteers serving on ASME codes, standards, and conformity assessment committees is as great today as it has been in our past and will be tomorrow. AS ME remains true to its roots in public safety while it continues to adapt to the needs of a changing world. In today's world, the role of standards is taking on new aspects including serving as the language of international trade and commercialization of emerging technologies, and ASME is ready to meet those challenges.

In an article published in the April 1984 issue of Mechanical Engineering commemorating ASME Codes and Standards' centennial anniversary, Melvin R. Green, ASME's managing director for codes and standards during the late 1960s through 1995 and a pioneering standards leader, spoke on the topics of the ebb and flow between national and inter- national standards, and the integration of technological advances and changing safety requirements into standards.

IThese topics continue to be primary drivers for the ASME Codes and Standards Board of Directors in strategic planning and resource allocation. An example is the issue of national vs. international standards, which took on political undercurrents within the World Trade Organization and the global standards community. WTO and 'International Standards.

For decades, the technical merits of'a standard drove decisions by industries and governments on its use and acceptance. ASME's codes and standards, while originally developed under a consensus process with primarily U.S. stakeholders, were applied and accepted by industry and regulators on a global basis and became de facto international standards.

During the late 1990s the question of what is, or is not, an international standard took on a life of its own. Under the 1994 Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, signatory nations are obligated to give preferential treatment to "international standards" as a means of minimizing non-tariff barriers to trade.

Many nations advocated that only organizations which consisted of national member bodies could generate legitimate international standards. While this interpre-tation might have appeared sensible on the surface, it would have caused significant adverse effects if accepted, including major market disruptions in established industries and preclusion of use of many standards such as those developed by ASME, which have long served industry and public safety needs. In general, the interpretation would have jeopardized the ability of industry to maintain highly technical and market-relevant standards in a rapidly changing world.

ASME was actively engaged in the global dialogue and intense debates that followed. Richard E. (Gene) Feigel, ASME C&S senior vice president from 1996 to 1999, led the way in articulating the strengths of the AS ME consensus standards development process and the realities of use of technical consensus standards within mature industrial sectors.

In 2000, at the second triennial review of the agreement, the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade adopted a Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides, and Recommendations with Relation to Articles 2, 5, and Annex 3 of the TBT Agreement. This decision defined the principles for international standards development covered under the agreement rather than defining the type of organizations that develop such standards. It is a more inclusive approach, which appropriately focuses on the essential attributes of the process rather than the nature of an organization's membership structure.

The WTO principles for international standards development are "transparency; openness; impartiality and consensus; effectiveness and relevance; coherence; and development dimension." ASME has a long history of adherence to these principles.

Gene Feigel: Backed by the strength of consensus.

Grahic Jump LocationGene Feigel: Backed by the strength of consensus.

ASME's codes and standards are used throughout the world. A preeminent international standard is the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, a code of construction consisting of 30 individual books covering a range of pressure retaining equipment-including power boilers, stationary pressure vessels, transport tanks, and nuclear power plant components.

The BPV Code is developed and updated annually by close to one thousand volunteers and staff. It is a consensus code hammered out by individuals from a wide range of perspectives, expertise, and experience. Conflicting views are debated in an open forum, and avenues are provided for grievances to be heard. It is a standard which grew to become referenced by all U.S. states and Canadian provinces as a means of demonstrating compliance with safety laws and regulations, and is now accepted in more than 100 countries for the same purpose.

During the term 1999-2002, while serving as ASME C&S sen;or vice president, DonaId R. Frikken challenged the C&S management bodies to go beyond being satisfied with strong international usage of ASME's codes and standards, and to reach out to encourage the global engineering community to become more actively engaged in all phases of codes ticipate in the technical consensus process for the actual development and updating of ASME standards.

While ASME's consensus standards development process has always been open to individuals, enterprises, and governments regardless of geographic boundaries, ways were needed to facilitate more active international engagement during all phases of development. It was recognized that sustaining technical and market relevance would necessitate the active participation of a global community of knowledgeable individuals and enterprises.

Toward this goal, translations ,of ASME's codes and standards have contributed to increased understanding and use in other nations, which in turn has encouraged more active contributions to the ongoing revision of requirements to better meet the needs of a broader community. Languages into which various ASME standards have been translated include Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

In addition, ASME has launched initiatives and outreach programs, and introduced changes to policies and procedures which would facilitate international participation.

An essential tool for international participation, for example, was developed that provides 2417/ 365 access to all codes and standards volunteers to conduct committee work online from anywhere in the world. Through this Web-based system, which came to be known as C&S Connect, management of the entire standards development process is now performed electronically.

C&S Connect is fundamental to enabling greater international member participation. This, combined with a new delegate member program for ASME standards committees, has resulted in one out of every ten codes and standards volunteers coming from outside the United States, and international participation is growmg every year.

Understanding of a code or standard is a strong factor in achieving proper application of its requirements and expected outcomes. Toward this end, in 2007 ASME formed ASME Asia Pacific LLC and a representative office was opened in Beijing, China, to advance understanding and use of ASME codes, standards, and related conformity assessment programs. Similar endeavors are being undertaken by ASME offices in India and the European Union.

ASME Codes and Standards has also conducted dozens of workshops, seminars, and conferences in which the underon core competencies, standing of various standards is advanced through interactive presentations from staff and volunteer experts. At the start of2009, as part of an ASME organizational realignment, the ASME Continuing Education Institute land ASME Engineering Management Certification International were grouped within Codes and Standards. The resultant directorate, Standards and Certification, will support the strategic objective of global growth through providing standards, and training on those standards, to current and potential users. This realignment will also provide the ability for ASME to better respond to engineering workforce development needs on a wider range of topics, beyond those currently addressed by ASME standards.

Donald Frikken: Engaging the world's engineers.

Grahic Jump LocationDonald Frikken: Engaging the world's engineers.

Speaking of Codes

In preparation for the 125th anniversary of ASME Codes and Standards, scores of volunteers and staff were interviewed on video in Montreal, New York, and Los Angeles, where they had gathered for committee meetings. Throughout this special C&S section, "Speaking of Codes"presents quotes from those interviews, which are available on the 125th anniversary Web site, go.asme.org/CS125.

"I'm working for Cetim, Cetim being the French research center for the mechanical industry, which is a little bit like your national laboratories here. ...For my company, it"s ve ry important to be involved in ASME work because, first of all, we know the rules before everyone else and that"s one part of the interest. And the other one is that we may harmonize rules, first between ASME and F.rance, and then between ASM E and Europe's standards, and that"s very important. I think that is beneficial for both sides of the Atlantic."

Anne Chaudouetproject manager, Cetim; Boiler and Pressure Vessel Committee on Materials (II), and ASME/API Committee on Fitness for Service.

 

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Robert Sims: Building on core competencies.

Grahic Jump LocationRobert Sims: Building on core competencies.

Among many new challenges and opportunities which arose during their tenures, ASME C&S senior vice presidents James W. Coaker (2002-2005) and J. Robert Sims, Jr. (2005-2008), supported by the strong corps of volunteer and staff leadership within Codes and Standards, stayed the course in providing new and advanced standards focused on emerging needs and building upon ASME's core competencies.

In 2004, ASME Standards Technology LLC was established to conduct research and technology development projects deemed needed by industry and government, and to facilitate incorporation of emerging technologies into ASME standards. Solid work has been accomplished, resulting in faster updating and revision of standards and providing other relevant reports to the users of standards. Through the accelerated process offered by ASME Standards Technology LLC, the ability of ASME to respond to new standards needs in emerging technologies and emerging markets will continue to be greatly enhanced.

In 2007, the ASME A17 Elevatol: and Escalator Committee positioned ASME well with the successful releases of several bi-national codes developed with the Canadian Standards Association. Standardization and Testing also achieved similar successes with bi-national plumbing standards.

One of the new bi-national codes, namely ASME A17.7/ CSA B44.7-2007, serves as a model for the parallel existence of a. prescriptive technical standard and a performance- based standard, covering the same equipment within a regulated industrial sector. This introduces flexibility to an industry that is sometimes best served by clearly defined rules (prescriptive) and other times needs performance targets that can be met by a wide range of solutions, encouraging competition in the industry. Prescriptive standards facilitate the ability for enterprises of any size to compete equally and facilitate the ability of governments to accept products, while performancebased standards enable more rapid introduction of new technology and may necessitate a closer specific application review by all parties. Through this, and similar efforts by other committees, industry demonstrated that both approaches (prescriptive and performance-, based) were needed and useful. In 2009, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Committee reorganized from one consensus body to ten consensus bodies.

In effect, the change has expanded the bandwidth and network through which technological advances can be considered and incorporated in the various codes. The new organization results in consensus bodies that are more aligned with specific industries, thus allowing for a sharper focus by the relevant technical experts on the heeds of industry. The reorganization places ASME in a better position to consider incorporation of emerging technology from around the globe. The industry focused committees will also facilitate the ability to recruit and me'ntor new members worldwide.

James Coaker: Standards for emerging needs.

Grahic Jump LocationJames Coaker: Standards for emerging needs.

The Boiler Code system includes ASME, manufacturers, the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, ALAs, and governments.

Grahic Jump LocationThe Boiler Code system includes ASME, manufacturers, the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, ALAs, and governments.

ASME conformity assessment programs-programs under which a company or an individual is assessed and certified based on demonstrated ability to meet the requirements of an ASME standard-continue to provide a vital support to enhancement of public safety and facilitation of international commerce.

For nearly one hundred years, ASME certification marks have indicated that a set of technical consensus requirements formulated by ASME has been applied by a manufacturer and verified by an independent third party inspection agency. ASME will certify a manufacturer as having demonstrated the ability to meet the requirements of an ASME standard. That manufacturer will then be permitted to certify that a specific piece of equipment complies with the ASME standard and to indicate that by applying the relevant ASME mark, or code symbol stamp, to the specific equipment.

The strength of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and related product certification is that they form an interlocking system based on having a set of requirements developed through an open and transparent consensus process. They involve independent third party inspection during the process, uniform qualification of inspectors by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, and acceptance by government entities.

Standards developed by other organizations such as ASTM International are an essential part of the ASME code requirements as well. The common understanding and confidence and trust in the system have enabled regulated equipment built in one jurisdiction to be readily accepted for installation in another.

This confidence and acceptance, evident throughout state and provincial jurisdictions within the U.S. and Canada, have extended beyond North America. In 2008, ASME reached a milestone of certifying more than 5,000 manufacturers in 75 nations. We foresee continued growth outside of North America.

It is expected that the geographic locations of manufacturers, inspection bodies, and enforcement agencies involved in ASME's code and 'conformity assessment system will continue to expand. ASME's current C&S senior vice president, Bernard E. Hrubala, is leading efforts to ensure that ASME conformity assessment meets the challenges and needs of a global market while still serving regional, national, provincial, state, and municipal constituents. Achieving global acceptance in the area of conformity assessment carries the added complexities of differing concepts regarding private/public partnerships, infrastructures, and regulatory frameworks.

The trends and implications impacting ASME at present will continue to influence it in the future. They include rapid shifts in global trade and competition; a challenging economy; accelerated technology advancement and transfer; a need for global harmonization of standards but at the same time a growth in national and regional regulations, standards, and conformity assessment marks; increased demands on volunteer experts' time; faster communications, and greater expectations. Because each of these trends has an impact on individual ASME standards by varying degrees, continued and growing acceptance of ASME standards and marks as meeting safety objectives of nations will become more complex and challenging.

Moving forward, thousands strong without geographic boundaries, ASME Standards and Certification will continue to serve its core mission: To enhance public safety and the environment; To facilitate global commerce and trade; To incorporate technological advances and provide for knowledge transfer; and To lessen the burdens of governments throughout the world.

This is the mission that ASME Codes and Standards has fulfilled for 125 years and still counting.

The expanded ASME Standards and Certification directorate joins with all of ASME in setting our sights on three strategic focus areas: energy, global growth, and engineering workforce development. Future areas of endeavor include, and are not limited to: Energy and environment-such as energy assessment and renewable energy standards.

Product standards- such as advanced pressure vessel designs, next generation nuclear reactors, and equipment reliability standards.

Methodology standards- such as verification and validation standards and expanded risk assessment standards; Engineering workforce training- such as ASME standards- based courses.

Certification-such as enhanced product and personnel certification programs that can more easily integrate geographic variations.

What will ASME look like in the future? Something like this: ASME standards, certifications, and training programs are recognized and used about the world; are accepted by regulators as one means of demonstrating compliance with safety, environmental, and technical regulations; and are renowned for technical excellence and global relevance.

Speaking of Codes

"I had a mentor... and as a young engineering technician at the time, I complained to him about some of the requirements that we had to meet. and he convinced me that I could change those requirements if I was willing to volunteer and take the time and go to the committee meetings. And I did that, and I was able to change those requirements, and I believe my company benefited and the industry benefited.... If there's merit to a change that will benefit people, it can be accepted.... I think over the years I've saved [my company] many millions of dollars."

Raymond A. Westtechnical consultant, Dominion Resources Services Inc; Board on Nuclear Codes and Standards

 

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Copyright © 2009 by ASME
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