Formaspace Says a Big Thanks to All of Our Customers
Here on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, it’s been a tradition for us to give thanks to our dedicated and conscientious employees — and to all of our Formaspace industrial furniture customers. As Formaspace has grown, we’ve been fortunate to work with some of the world’s best-known companies, including Apple Computer, Boeing, Dell, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobile, Ford, General Electric, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, NASA, Novartis, Stanford University, Toyota and many more. We’ve also been excited to work with our smaller customers, including those of you that invest in a single Formaspace workbench. To all of you, from all of us — thank you.
We Also Give a Big Thanks to Heroes in Today’s World of Manufacturing and Construction
We thought it might a good opportunity to also give thanks to some of the unsung heroes in today’s modern world of manufacturing and construction. Over the years, we have talked a lot about sourcing American materials in the supply chain, building ever more efficient distribution centers, using tools like Six Sigma and Scor to improve the efficiency of your operations and more. If you asked the average person on the street to name an industrial standard, we bet the first name that comes to their mind will be Underwriters Laboratories Inc., known for their ubiquitous round UL logo.
Founded all the way back in 1894 by William Henry Merrill, UL is the gold standard for consumers looking to purchase safe electronic devices that have been tested thoroughly for electrical hazards and fire risks. You can get a sense of the testing rigor that Underwriters Laboratories is known for in the video above, which simulates a typical warehouse layout with palettes stacked three levels high. Watch how quickly the fire develops as the pallets of paper products are engulfed in flames. So when you give thanks, don’t forget to include Underwriters Laboratories — their test engineers and researchers make our homes and workplaces safer.
In many cases, industrial standards have become so ubiquitous that we don’t notice them anymore. If you’re old enough to remember a time before bar code scanners, you might think nostalgically about an era where every product in the grocery store had a adhesive price sticker and cashiers typed in prices with fingers flying. On the down side, undertaking inventory was a nightmare of record-keeping and it was difficult to understand consumer purchasing decisions because there was such a lag in recording sales.
Development of the bar code, which has an interesting history outlined in the video above, has laid the groundwork for so many industrial innovations. Yet taking the first step to organize all the different industries to accept printing a crazy series of lines — on cans of peas, on boxes of laundry detergent, on refrigerator or television cartons — was quite an undertaking! Now it’s hard to imagine living in a world without bar codes. It’s the basis for today’s RFID tags, ERP inventory control systems and all the analysis and process management tools that we rely upon today to keep a lean supply chain, while satisfying customer demand.
You are reading his article on the Internet. Depending upon how technical you are, you may (or may not) have a quite detailed understanding of how a server works, how IP protocols send packets of data across cyberspace, how your browser communicates with the server and interprets the information as a fully formed web page in your browser.
But have you stopped to think about all the people who worked out international agreements on the technical specs that make the magic happen?
While the Internet’s influence and importance has grown dramatically in the past few decades, it takes lots and lots of behind-the-scenes meetings and review committees to bring everyone together. You can get a sense of the nature of these international meetings in the video above, where a W3C sub-committee reviews interactivity standards for web browsing. We want to give thanks to all the volunteers who provide their expertise to the international commissions, such as the W3C , which establish the nitty-gritty details that make all these different pieces work together to provide a seamless experience on the Internet for you and me.
Lets Take a Closer Look at Standards such as ANSI, AESC, and ASME
How did this cooperative approach to developing standards start? For this we look back to the origins of today’s American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which was founded in 1918 as American Engineering Standards Committee (AESC). This ambitious project brought together disparate groups at the start, including the electrical engineers (today’s IEEE), the mechanical engineers (ASME), the civil engineers (ASCE), the mining engineers (AIME), the testing and materials engineers (ASTM International) as well as the Defense (DOD) and Commerce branches of the US federal government. ANSI has changed names several times over the years.
During the late 1920s they renamed the organization the American Standards Association (ASA). If you are photography buff, you are probably familiar with ASA standards for exposures or as well as other common ASA standards. As technology has expanded beyond the mechanical world electronic computing, ANSI establish new standards for programming languages, including Fortran, Cobol and Basic. To get a sense of the reach of ANSI standards today, you can check out their standardsportal.org web site.
What is ISO?
After World War II, the different standards organizations across the world came together in 1947 to form a global umbrella group known as the International Organization for Standardization or ISO. (Confusingly, prior to World War II, there was a predecessor organization called the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations or ISA. Some standards still incorporate ISA in their nomenclature so now you know why!) This nongovernmental organization proposes, debates, approves and promotes voluntary international standards. The scope of the work is tremendous– there are over 250 technical committees to develop ISO standards today.
We offer thanks to these industrial experts as well for providing a key component of the infrastructure necessary to run today’s modern economy that’s so dependent upon based on international trade and commerce. Standards organizations have evolved with the times. For example, many early ANSI standards for heavy manufacturing focused on establishing common dimensions for mechanical components like nuts, bolts, and springs. In contrast, today’s modern standards often address more organizational aspects of manufacturing operations. The widely-adopted ISO 9000 standard, which focuses on processes and quality, is an excellent example of this.
More recent examples of international standards focus on achieving goals such as energy savings and sustainability. One of the most well-known examples of this is the Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for commercial and residential buildings. Formaspace industrial furniture has been specified by designers seeking LEED credits, as many of our products use recycled materials and the modular designs allows the furniture to be deconstructed from one site and transported to a new site where they can be reassembled with no waste. There are quite a number of evolving standards for green buildings, energy savings and sustainability, such as:
- National Green Building Standard (NGBS)
- CALGreen California Green Building
- IgCC International Green Construction Code (FL, NC, OR, RI, WA, CO, AZ, TX, NH, MD)
- Green Globes (Canadian Federal buildings among others)
- ISI Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Envision
What Will Happen Next?
It’s hard to predict what will happen with international standards across all industries, but in the construction industry the signs are pointing toward developing so-called net zero structures, which are homes or offices that consume minuscule amounts of energy, or even return energy back to the electrical grid. In the video above, the grand residence under construction claims to be both LEED-certified and rated as a net zero energy use building.
As energy conservation, pollution mitigation and water scarcity issues loom on the horizon, we predict that international standards that take Sustainable Product Development (SPD) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) into account will become more widely adopted. We will be watching the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which convenes this coming Monday, November 30 in Paris with great interest. The objective of this conference is to create a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto protocol. It will be interesting to watch how much agreement can be achieved between now and December 11, when the conference is scheduled to conclude. More on that in a future report. We wish you and yours a joyous and safe Thanksgiving.