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The complications of ISO standards

21 Aug, 2015 | Return|

I explained that the working group for torque wrenches had been meeting since 2008 to revise and develop the existing standard for torque wrenches ISO 6789:2003.


The project has taken far too long and sometimes people ask me why we have not finished before. In the following paragraphs I will try to explain some of the reasons, from my perspective. My aim is to give you an insight into standards preparation.


Every ISO standard has an owner, in the form of a Technical Committee. ISO/TC 29 looks after & ‘small tools’ which includes drills, milling cutters, abrasive grinding discs as a well as hand tools. The area of spanners, screwdrivers etc are defined as ‘Assembly tools for screws and nuts’ and these are the responsibility of a Sub-Committee called ISO/TC 29/SC 10. Sub-Committees are populated with delegates from member countries. In ISO/ TC 29/SC 10 we have 10 countries who are registered as participating and 16 countries who are observing. More information can be found here.


Where a standard requires development or major revision the subcommittee creates working groups (WG) and so we have ISO/TC 29/SC 10/WG 3 Hand torque tools. The participating countries have been Germany, France, USA, Italy and Sweden as well as the UK. In Working Groups the participants are called ’experts’ rather than ‘delegates’. As with most projects, the definition is often the hardest part. We spent several meetings agreeing what the standard needed to achieve. Our decision was to develop the work started in 2003 where we had separated design, manufacture and calibration during use. We had a debate about splitting the standard into two or three parts. Part 1 was still about design and manufacture. Part 2 was going to be calibration. The question was ‘Part 3 or not Part 3’. The proposed Part 3 was about calibration of the device used to calibrate the torque tool. Eventually we decided to put this bit into an Annex of Part 2.


The next challenge was to decide how technical to make the calibration requirements of Part 1 and Part 2. To treat them as metrology instruments is sometimes overdoing it a little. The users of this standard, including you, the reader, need to be able to follow the logic and requirements of our work. Some countries had different views amongst their experts and that caused quite a lot of debate and delay. Some countries, such as the US had their own frequently used standards and for us the challenge was to consider how to move forward while not diverging too far from the US standard. Eventually we reached sufficient agreement to make a Committee Draft and send it for voting amongst the participating countries of the Sub-Committee.


Votes are generally accompanied by comments and the WG has to work through each comment, giving either acceptance or a clear reason for rejection. Again this takes time. Then the next Committee Draft vote is made and the next set of comments reviewed. Finally we had what is called a Draft International Standard or DIS. This went out for voting again. However ISO 67898:2003 is a ‘Harmonised’ standard, dual numbered ISO EN 6789:2003. Therefore this time the vote also went to relevant National Committees. This group of technical experts had no real understanding of the previous work carried out in the WG, so many comments were duplications of earlier comments that had been rejected, but we had to work through each one and give due consideration.


So now we have a second Draft International Standard. ISO DIS6789 Part 1:2015 and ISO DIS 6789 Part 2:2015 will shortly go out for vote under the ISO and CEN rules and hopefully will be accepted for publication in the summer of 2016.


My next blog will explain the major changes in ISO DIS6789 Part 1:2015 compared with ISO 6789:2003. Thanks for reading. If you have any comments on this piece, please get in touch.


Neill Brodey

Managing Director