Collaboration Key to Global Standards Harmonization

U.S., European Standards Bodies Working Toward Common Goals

By Joe Feeley

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Automation Fair 2012

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The overall goal of safety standards organizations across the globe is to harmonize national standards toward more global unity. A Tuesday presentation entitled "The Future of Global Machine Safety Standards and How ANSI and IFA Collaborate," at this week's Rockwell Automation Safety Automation Forum outlined how organizations, such as ANSI and Germany's Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance, better known in the United States as IFA, the creators of the SISTEMA safety integrity software tool for machinery, work to achieve common goals.

Michael Miller of Rockwell Automation, who in this venue spoke in his role as vice-chairman of the U.S. National Committee TAG TC-199, explained what that those acronyms stand for. "The USNC is a mirror committee to ISO/TC 199 Machine Safety. ISO and IEC are international organizations comprised of national standards bodies such as ANSI, ISA, BSI," Miller explained. "They each have technical advisory groups or TAGs, made up of technical experts in their nations, and form working groups that focus on various elements of machine safety."

These groups work both individually and collectively to write global standards. The U.S. TAG is administered by ANSI. At present, there are roughly 26 active participating countries and 23 observer countries.

Global Markets, Global Standards

Miller said the scope of TC-199 (Technical Committee 199) fundamentally is concerned with machine safety. "Gone are the days when we write individual, national standards," he explained. "Look at the global economy we live in. We want to build a machine one way and sell it all over the world because that's where the market is."

Miller mentioned a more recent joint working group, JWG1, with members of an ISO TC group and an IEC TC, aiming at a merger of the ISO 13849 and IEC 62061. He added that TC-199 has revised or added 42 standards during the past 18 months. As the state of the art changes, technology changes, and the committees and working groups are charged with seeing that the standards remain relevant. "We have allow present technology to be used, but often have to try to anticipate where technology will take us and not put limits around that technology's use," Miller said.