Board Adopts New Process for Determining Standardization Advocacy Positions

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO

 

by Eric Lanke
NFPA CEO

Standards development is a key activity that contributes to the fulfillment of NFPA’s mission to strengthen the fluid power industry. As a result, our Board of Directors recently determined that it may from time to time be appropriate for NFPA to take a position of public advocacy for a particular standardization initiative. In accordance with that decision, a new process has been established that will govern NFPA’s decision method and potential actions in this regard. That process is summarized below and includes several key procedures.

  1. Description and disclosure of multiple roles played by NFPA as ISO Secretariat, ANSI Administrator, and Fluid Power Industry Advocate.

All partaking in this process should be aware that NFPA plays multiple roles in the standards-setting environment.

  • As Secretariat to ISO Technical Committee 131, ISO holds NFPA responsible for providing the administration necessary for that Committee and its subcommittees to conduct themselves according to ISO Directives and other international organizational procedures. The Committee’s role, among other things, is to build international consensus around and to develop standards that are of use and benefit to the global fluid power industry.
  • As Administrator to the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 131, ANSI holds NFPA responsible for providing the administration necessary for that TAG and its subcommittees to conduct themselves according to ANSI Operating Procedures. The TAG’s role, among other things, is to identify and represent the views of the U.S. fluid power industry in the international standards-setting process governed by ISO.
  • As the trade association representing the U.S. Fluid Power Industry, NFPA plays a crucial role in speaking to public policy professionals and others on behalf of that industry. NFPA’s role in these discussions, among other things, is to help foster an innovative environment for the fluid power industry.

These three roles often overlap, and can occasionally be in conflict with one another. The potential for conflict does not, however, absolve NFPA from responsibility in effectively fulfilling the responsibilities of all three roles.

  1. Description of role of and process used by NFPA Roadmap Committee to identify the broad technology development needs of the fluid power industry and standardization initiatives that may support those development objectives.

NFPA has delegated to its Roadmap Committee the responsibility for developing and maintaining the NFPA Technology Roadmap, a document that identifies the areas of pre-competitive research needed to meet the future needs of fluid power customers, expand fluid power into new customer markets, and attract the best and brightest young engineers to fluid power.

The Roadmap Committee is also responsible for supplementing the NFPA Technology Roadmap with other, technology-specific roadmaps that can support or better address specific challenges or objectives identified in the Technology Roadmap.

As part of these responsibilities, the Roadmap Committee periodically engages in discussions about possible standardization initiatives that may also support or better address specific challenges or objectives identified in the Technology Roadmap.

The identification of research challenges and objectives, and any supporting standardization initiatives, is done through the broad consensus procedures of the Committee. No one company or industry segment dominates these deliberations. Typically, a series of conference calls and in-person meetings with representatives across the fluid power supply chain are conducted before any decisions are made or reports are issued. The focus of all these discussions is on initiatives that will serve the broad needs of the fluid power industry as a whole. The anti-trust policy of the NFPA governs and is reviewed at each of these meetings.

Although the outcomes of these discussions are shared with partners in and out of the fluid power industry and are represented as comprising a consensus-based view of the pre-competitive research and development needs of the industry, none of these outcomes automatically represent an official advocacy position of the NFPA. For that to occur, the NFPA Board of Directors must take specific action.

  1. Questions to be asked and process to be used by NFPA Board to review the standardization initiatives so identified by the Roadmap Committee and to determine which, if any, should represent advocacy positions of the NFPA.

Each time the Roadmap Committee produces a report that includes recommendations for standardization initiatives, those recommendations will be reviewed by the NFPA Board of Directors. The Board will delegate its review to an appointed task force comprised of Board members and other appropriate experts.

The purpose of this review will be to determine which recommendations, if any, should represent official advocacy positions of the NFPA. In conducting this review, the Board’s appointed task force will be governed by the following question:

  • Does the standardization initiative described represent a compelling opportunity to foster an innovative environment for the fluid power industry?

In its deliberations, the Board’s appointed task force will define a compelling opportunity as one that will clearly benefit the entire industry, one that will meet the expectations of multiple fluid power customer markets, and one that cannot reasonably be achieved by other means.

  1. Description of the recommendation and approval process to be used by the NFPA Board of Directors to determine official advocacy positions of the NFPA.

Should the Board’s appointed task force determine that a recommended standardization initiative of the Roadmap Committee should represent an official advocacy position of the NFPA, the task force will prepare a report for the Board.

That report will state the recommended advocacy position in two clear sentences—one focused on the need to be filled and the second on the perceived value that will come from filling that need.

For example, a recommended advocacy position dealing with the development of standards to measure the energy consumption of fluid power systems could read: “The fluid power industry needs a standardized way to measure the energy consumption and efficiency of fluid power components and systems. As energy efficiency increasingly becomes a driver in fluid power’s core customer markets, such standards would provide an objective method for determining the efficiency contributions of fluid power products and for bringing new technologies more quickly to market.”

The task force may include in the report whatever other supplemental information it deems necessary.

The Board will take up the task force report at its next scheduled meeting. An in-person discussion and a majority vote to approve will be required before identifying a recommendation as an official advocacy position of the NFPA.

  1. List of potential organizational actions to be taken once official advocacy positions have been identified.

Once an official advocacy position has been approved by the NFPA Board of Directors, NFPA may take a number of appropriate actions, including:

  • Speaking out publicly about the need for the initiative
  • Convening forums where interested parties—in and out of the ISO structure—can explore ways to advance the initiative
  • Seeking buy-in on the initiative from the aligned subcommittees of the U.S. TAG to ISO TC 131, with a view towards creating a new work item in the ISO development process

Comments and feedback from NFPA members on this process are welcome. Please direct your comments to Eric Lanke at elanke@nfpa.com.

 

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