Original Date: 02/03/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Standards Development
The Technical Standards Board (TSB) oversees the overall responsibilities of the standards development operations through the various administrative committees, councils, divisions, and technical committees. TSB is the only group within The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) authorized to develop standards and take responsibility for any requirements associated with consensus activities. SAE has nearly 6,000 standards available on nearly every facet of the mobility industry.
SAE uses a consensus process to develop and maintain its standards. This large-scale activity requires a high level of coordination and management. Approximately 600 cooperative technical committees comprising 15,000 participants write the standards and add approximately 600 new or revised standards each year. TSB promotes and supervises the cooperative technical committees’ activities including SAE’s participation in other organizations’ technical committees. The board approves and issues reports, standards, and recommended practices developed by the cooperative technical committees.
Although the committees consist of individuals from industry, government, and academia, SAE staff members perform the coordination and administrative functions of the process such as preparing and distributing meeting notices, correspondences, agendas, and minutes; maintaining committee records and rosters; making on-site arrangements for meetings; and counseling committee members and chairpersons on SAE policies, procedures, and practices. In addition, the SAE staff serves as the focal point for information contacts, acts as a clearinghouse for all inquiries, and provides liaison representation with other SAE committees when required.
SAE consensus documents are classified by a letter designation system. For example, J documents indicate ground vehicles (subdivided into information reports, recommended practices, and standards), and A documents indicate aerospace vehicles (subdivided into information reports, recommended practices, standards, and specifications). Typically, consensus documents evolve from information reports to recommended practices to standards and specifications over time. Information reports contain a compilation of engineering reference data and educational material that are useful to the technical community. Recommended practices specify general or lesser-known practices, procedures, and technology as guides for standard engineering practices. Standards specify broadly- accepted engineering practices or specifications for a material, product, process, procedure, or test method. Specifications identify material and process parameters and qualifications which conform to sound, established engineering practices in a specific field.
Figure 2-5 shows the organization of the standards councils and the corresponding divisions and major committees below them. The report approval process works through multiple levels for achieving consensus (Figure 2-6), each following the same consensus procedure. The documents are developed and written by the technical committees, and reviewed by the councils. A ballot approval method is used to achieve consensus. Presently, balloting is done via mail; however, SAE is currently testing alternative methods such as facsimile and e-mail. For a document to be approved for publication, each ballot must have a 50% membership response from the total voting committee members and a 66% approval vote from those that responded. In addition, the committee or council attempts to resolve any dissenting viewpoints prior to approval.
Since the report approval process depends on the contributions of thousands of industry participants, a document can take a long time from development to publication. However, this process is much more efficient than traditional standards development processes which require unanimous consent. SAE has observed a decline in industry participation because of multiple demands on members’ time. To meet the demand for new and revised standards, SAE supplements its participants with staff members and consultants.
The standards development operation enables SAE to be one of the largest producers of standards and technical information in the world. SAE is recognized globally as the standards development organization which best meets the needs of the mobility industry.
Figure 2-5. Standards Development Councils
Figure 2-6. Report Approval Process
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