By Daryl Burns, P.E.
Products ranging from ski helmets to ink pens to precast concrete all have something in common. They are manufactured in accordance with standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
ASTM was founded in 1898 by Charles B. Dudley, Ph.D., a chemist with the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 2001, the organization became ASTM International to more accurately reflect its reach and impact.
Located in West Conshohocken, Pa., with offices in Belgium, Canada, China, Peru and Washington, ASTM International is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of voluntary consensus standards. Today, more than 12,000 ASTM standards in place around the world improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen market access and build consumer confidence.
Developed, written and approved by ASTM committees, these consensus standards set the expectations for how facilities produce, store and ship products.
All ASTM members are eligible for these committees, which means you or members of your company can contribute to the standards that your organization operates by.
So, the question is: What are you waiting for?
ADDING YOUR VOICE
The three ASTM committees that have the most significant, direct impact on the precast concrete industry are:
- ASTM C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates, which oversees cement, aggregates and chemical admixtures, among other topics.
- ASTM C13 on Concrete Pipe, which addresses reinforced precast concrete pipe, box culvert and manholes.
- ASTM C27 on Precast Concrete Products, which oversees all other precast concrete products and various test methods.
Additionally, each committee consists of various subcommittees that have specific focuses on a product, material or activity within the committee’s scope.
For $75 a year, ASTM members get a free volume of ASTM Standards. This alone is a great value. Separately buying the more than 125 equivalent standards related to precast concrete would cost thousands of dollars.
But that initial membership is just the start. Producers and suppliers benefit most from ASTM membership through joining the ASTM C09, C13 and C27 main committees and lending their voices to the decisions. Being a committee member is an opportunity to guide industry standard development and direct how precast products are designed and manufactured.
Right now, those committees are populated primarily by engineers and academia who benefit from the men and women who work within the industry every day.
The C27 committee on Precast Concrete Products alone has openings for 70 producer members, according to Concrete Sealants Engineering Manager Sam Lines.
That leaves a lot of decision-making power to non-producer members who are deciding what is best for the design and manufacturing of precast products. By not engaging, precast industry members forfeit any recourse if they don’t like changes.
MINIMAL TIME COMMITMENT
The time commitment for committee membership starts at 30 minutes per quarter, said Tom Elliott, manager of product design at Jensen Precast in Reno, Nev.
The bulk of that half-hour is spent considering and voting on ballot measures, which may not sound like much but is the No. 1 thing a precast producer or supplier can do to provide impact.
By rule, every “no” vote on a ballot measure must be discussed by the subcommittee and, if deemed persuasive, the ASTM Committee leadership must talk with the negative voter to seek possible solutions.
This is direct influence.
The benefits of being a committee member don’t end there. ASTM committees are a great way to network, create a group of industry colleagues and learn the importance of standards.
“You really can do good for the industry while experiencing different perspectives and learning about the issues that others are having,” said Hugh Martin, engineering manager at Oldcastle Infrastructure.
Becoming an ASTM committee member benefits not just you but the industry as a whole. And when not enough precasters populate a committee, critical voices are missing from what standards really mean in the day-to-day world.
Daryl Burns, P.E., is the director of codes and standards at NPCA.