Dean's Page -- October 1926


 The trend of the times may be observed only by noting the direction of travel of many elements. I wonder if the readers of the Blue Print are aware of the extent to which industrial standardization has progressed, or the ds/dt with which it is moving. We see evidences on every hand of the influences being exerted by agreements of this sort. Are they all wholesome and productive of good? Why are they being promoted? To what extent are they controlling our daily processes? Are they enlarging their zones of action? What are standards anyway, and how are they arrived at? What are the difficulties in determining them?

Standards are not one-sided. They are made for the protection of both the manufacturer and the consumer. They are, therefore, the result of conferences, and are open to acceptance or rejection by individuals to whose products they are related. They are not rules handed down by some superior authority, compelling observance. To be successful, they must commend themselves to all parties as reasonable, and even desirable.

Of course, standardization is an old-time subject. It antedates our records. But it began and continued for centuries in limited fields. The great needs of the people of those early times were for standards of weights, measure, and value. With these established, little further progress was made in standards until recent times. It is very significant to note that under the heading of "Standards," the tenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica gives only a cross-reference, "See Weights and Measures."

It should be noted that we are speaking only of physical standards, for in other fields there were being established reference rules or laws. Long before the Christian era the code of the Khammurabi existed in Babylon and formed the earliest known legal code.

The objective of industrial standardization is the increasing of efficiency in its broadest sense—time, expense, and effort. It will also improve processes, and broaden markets.   In this attempt to promote economy, improve production, and widen contacts, there came into being in the days of the World War a committee whose activities have continued and enlarged beyond all expectation, vet without even approximating the possibilities which exist. This body is the American Engineering Standards Committee (A. E. S. C.), which states that it is directly concerned with:

1. Nomenclature—Definitions, abbreviations, symbols, ideagraphs, pictographs.
2. Uniformity in dimensions necessary to secure interchangeability.
3. Quality specifications.
4. Methods of test.
5. Rating of machinery and apparatus as a basis of purchase specifications or for establishing requirements as to the performance, durability, safety, etc.
6. Provisions for safety.
7. Rules for operation of machinery arid apparatus in industrial establishments.
8. Determination of optimum number, of types, sizes, and grades of manufactured products.
A perusal of this outline will indicate the vastness of the scope all the committee's activities and the importance of the movement to all fields of industry. We engineers are particularly interested in the work because we are users of steel, concrete, tools, machinery, gravel, meters, explosives, oils; we are concerned with fighting, testing, n instruction processes, power transmission, rating of rivers: the clarity of our specifications depends upon the accuracy of our use of a discerning nomenclature.

The A. E. S. C. has listed 212 definite standardization projects, of which several are now completed. Cooperating with the committee there are 365 national organizations such as trade associations, technical societies, and government bureaus.   This work is carried on through a personnel of 1,581 individuals operating on sub-committees.

The importance of this work may be glimpsed by recognizing that the general adoption of the committee's comprehensive system of limit gauging would probably save American industry something like $1,000,000,000 per year!

You may soon see in drafting rooms the effect of the recommendation for standard conventions, methods, and sizes of drawings.

Safety codes to the number of fifty are being evolved, with all that this may mean to industry. The simplification of standards, the harmonizing of conflicting rules, the combining of overlapping specifications, go on apace.

Foreign and domestic specifications are collected for the use of all who may need them. Copies of any of the 7,000 now in the files may be purchased at cost. There are listed in the National Directory of Commodity Specifications, recently published by the United States Department of Commerce, about 27,000 sets of specifications.

It will be worth while for engineers to study the effects of this movement. There are many things being done now, many practices being inaugurated, which, in the days to come will have as great an influence upon the practice of the new day as the adoption of standard threads upon holts had upon present-day industry.