Standards Drive Success in Services Sector

Patricia Quigley

From small countries with tourism-driven economies to large post-industrial nations, the services sector has driven enormous global growth in recent decades. As businesses look for consistency and common terminologies, consumers seek quality assurance, and more and more people are employed in this burgeoning sphere, the demand for standards for services grows. ASTM's open, stakeholder-driven process has grown to meet the needs of service industries in hospitality, entertainment, corporate services, healthcare, and more. Here's a look at several examples of service industries coming to ASTM to meet their standardization needs.

Tourism, Hospitality, and Entertainment


Location? Check.

Accommodations? Check.

Food? Check.

Recycling? Check that, too.

Event planners consider many variables when coordinating gatherings, and they don't stop with a hotel's star rating. Today, planners and their organizations also take into account the sustainability of their events with an eye to reducing waste and saving resources such as energy and water. Subcommittee E60.02 on Hospitality (part of Committee E60 on Sustainability) has developed a suite of nine standards in conjunction with APEX (the Convention Industry Council's Accepted Practices Exchange) that form the basis of a certification available from the Green Meeting Industry Council. Tourism agencies, convention centers, and other organizations in Canada, the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore have used the ASTM standards to get this certification. Seventy members from six countries oversee these standards for aspects of green event planning, from transportation and food/ beverage to accommodations and exhibits. A significant specification here is E2772 for evaluating and selecting accommodations for environmentally sustainable events.

Amusement Rides

Made of metal or wood, installed at a slick new theme park or an old-time one in the woods - roller coasters attract young and old alike who want a (safe) thrill. ASTM Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices helps ensure the safety of many kinds of amusement rides through 20 world-renowned standards (with several more in development) that 800+ global members have outlined for amusement developers and operators. The standards cover such topics as acceleration, clearance envelopes, and restraints, and provide the minimum safety baseline for all rides and devices. Among the most important standards are F2291, which provides designers and others with criteria for designing or modifying amusement rides, and F770, which provides guidelines for maintenance and other procedures to be performed by owners and operators.


Every winter, enthusiasts of all ages trundle off to places like Park City, Utah; British Columbia, Canada; and Cervinia, Italy. They slip on skis, adjust their goggles, catch a cable car up a mountain, and then swoosh downhill. They can enjoy the thrill of speed and the brush of fresh powder thanks in part to the work of Committee F27 on Snow Skiing. Founded in 1982, the committee is responsible for 15 standards for binding test procedures and skiing and snowboarding equipment, with one standard in development that will address terrain park jump features.

More than 100 members from seven countries work to ensure the safety of commercial products used by millions of skiers, and all binding manufacturers in the United States use the committee's standards. Among the most critical: specification F1061 for ski binding test devices, test method F1062 for verification of those devices, and practice F939 for the release torque values for alpine ski bindings.

Food Service Equipment

That deep-fat fryer for French fries? There's an ASTM standard for that... and for bun slicers, griddles, hot food cabinets, storage, dishwashers, and more.

Committee F26 on Food Service Equipment, founded in 1979, develops specifications and test methods for the performance requirements of food service equipment found in commercial restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other institutions. More than 90 standards (with three more in development), overseen by 80+ members from nine countries, address topics such as handling, storage, preparation, cooking, dispensing, and/or serving food. They also address the cleaning, sanitation, and ancillary items associated with food preparation and service. Subcommittees cover equipment for cleaning and sanitation, cooking and warming, storage and dispensing, and preparation; equipment cost analysis and sustainability; ventilation; and energy efficiency and production performance. The committee supports efforts like the U.S. Energy Star program, which certifies ovens, griddles, coffee brewers, and other equipment as energy efficient.


Corporate Services

Asset Management

Committee E53 on Asset Management, which collaborates with groups like the National Property Management Association, develops management systems criteria for durable and moveable assets. The committee of about 125 members, founded in 2000, has developed more than 25 standards, with two more underway. The most critical are E2936, a guide for contractor self-assessment for government property management systems, and E3015, a guide for the management of property assets in the possession of a supplier, contractor, or subcontractor. These help reduce risk and improve operations, while also helping with specific efforts such as improving the U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Human Resource Management

Committee E63 on Human Resource Management is starting something new: developing guidelines for the interactions of human beings and the activities of the organizations for which they work. The nascent committee, which already has about 100 members from 15 countries, is developing standards in a field where few exist. Just a few months old, the committee has a particular focus on diversity and inclusion, and it also may explore work on metrics and measures; compensation and benefits; and mergers, acquisitions, and outsourcing. Recognizing that it is extremely important to reflect a microcosm of the industry it represents, the committee is working to identify, solicit, and effectively recruit an appropriate mix of stakeholders.

Sustainable Manufacturing

"Sustainability" can have multiple meanings among industries. While many, if not most, companies may agree that sustainable manufacturing is an admirable goal, they don't all agree on the approach, which emphasizes the "triple bottom line" (social, economic, and environmental attributes).

Enter Subcommittee E60.13 on Sustainable Manufacturing, founded in 2013 with the goal of developing standards for firms that want to quantify the success of their sustainability efforts, advance measurement science to promote improvements in resource efficiency, and reduce waste across manufacturing processes and product assembly. Today, more than 200 members from a dozen counties are working on new standards and have already finished three. Among them is E2986, a guide to evaluating environmental aspects of manufacturing processes.

Environmental Assessment

Its presence truly is worldwide. Its role is essential to the future of the planet and the health of business and industry. It is Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management, and Corrective Action. Founded in 1990, the group has more than 770 members from 35 countries and has developed more than 95 standards, with 10 in process. These documents play a pre-eminent role in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions, corrective action, pollution prevention, biological effects and environmental fate, and more.

The committee addresses issues such as environmental assessment and management, corrective action due diligence, and sustainability. Among the committee's most important standards is E1527, the Phase I environmental site assessment process. Purchasers of commercial real estate use E1527 to conduct due diligence, performing an ESA of the property and surrounding areas before buying. In the United States, a properly conducted ESA may allow buyers to qualify for certain defenses under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, which imposes liability on certain owners and operators of property for the release of hazardous substances into the environment, without regard to fault. Purchasers also use the standard to reduce the risk of incurring costs caused by environmental contamination by previous owners.

Language Services

Communication is key in relationships, business, and government. While ever-evolving technology makes it easier for people to connect, it does not necessarily make it easier for people to communicate. That's where Committee F43 on Language Services and Products comes into play.

During the past 15 years, the language services industry has experienced rapid growth, with firms offering electronic bilingual options, online sites translating words from one language to another, and much more. Demands for standards to promote quality and effective multilingual communication for economic, security, and diplomatic purposes have accompanied that growth.

Founded in 2010, F43 fosters communication through subcommittees that address topics ranging from foreign language instruction to language testing. Two of their key standards are F2089 on language Interpreting and F2575 for quality assurance in translation. Committee members, hailing from eight countries, have five standards under development.


Healthcare and Emergency Services

Medical and Surgical Materials

People are never so vulnerable as when they or loved ones are sick or injured. Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices develops standards that help instill confidence in doctors and the patients they treat, ensure the safety of medical devices, and provide benchmarks that industry can use when working toward submitting a new product or material.

Founded in 1962, the 900-member committee, with representatives from 31 countries, oversees more than 300 standards and has 56 in development. These standards play a critical role in all aspects essential to materials, orthopedic devices, testing, tissue engineering, and medical and surgical instruments. Some of the most important are F136, a specification for a surgical implant alloy; F543 for metallic medical bone screws; F1717 for spinal implant constructs; and F2503 for marking devices in the magnetic resonance environment.

Protective Clothing

Whether during the height of a major health crisis – like the recent Ebola outbreak – or dealing with routine healthcare issues, physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians, and others expect and deserve medical supplies that protect them and their patients from life-threatening illnesses.

More than 70 members from five countries on Subcommittee F23.40 on Biological (part of Committee F23 on Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment), oversee eight standards for protective clothing and personal protective equipment. The most critical standards are test methods F1670 for resistance of protective clothing to penetration by synthetic blood and F1671 for resistance of these types of protective clothing to penetration by blood-borne pathogens. The subcommittee, whose standards are relied on by such organizations as the American College of Surgeons, is working on a new standard for isolation gowns as well as revising F1670. The importance of these standards was recently highlighted on the U.S. news program "60 Minutes."

Search and Rescue

For the people who rush in during disasters while others rush out, safe equipment is crucial. Committee F32 on Search and Rescue has developed over 60 standards that help ensure their safety, including F1740, a guide for inspecting kernmantle rope, and F1772, a specification for harnesses.

Stakeholders in the search and rescue community formed the committee in 1988, and today it comprises 75 members from five countries who have 10 more standards under development. They are now focusing on standards for small unmanned aircraft systems used in search and rescue operations. The membership includes employees of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as various city, county, and state authorities dealing with search-and-rescue operations. The committee works closely with organizations such as the National Association for Search and Rescue and is represented at the yearly International Technical Rescue Symposium.


Patricia Quigley is an award-winning journalist and public relations practitioner who has written for local, regional, national and international publications. She resides in southern New Jersey, where she earned a B.A. in communication and an M.A. in writing from Rowan University.

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