88th GM Presentation Jon Labrador

The 88th General Meeting Speaker Presentation

“The National Board and ASME: 100 Years of a Shared Mission and Vision”

Jon Labrador

The following presentation was delivered at the 88th General Meeting Monday General Session, May 6, 2019. It has been edited for content and phrasing.

INTRODUCTION: Jon Labrador's career in ASME standards and certifications spans 24 years. He is presently the managing director of ASME conformity assessment. In that role, he is responsible for conformity assessment, certification and accreditation.  

Mr. Labrador’s slide presentation can be accessed here.

Click here to view more about the National Board's 100-year anniversary.

MR. LABRADOR: I want to talk to you a little bit today about ASME and the National Board. Establishing and maintaining that successful relationship over a 100-year period doesn't come by accident, and it's no small feat. But when the core of that relationship revolves around a cause for the greater good and a shared mission and vision, the chances for success for both are pretty great. And that's what we have here today and over the last one hundred years. 

This afternoon you’ve been hearing about the history of ASME. We were essentially borne out of the second industrial revolution where great engineering minds came together and formed ASME in 1880. 

During that time, we saw tremendous technological advances, mostly revolving around steam power. Unfortunately, rapid technological advances can sometimes result in some severe consequences, and that is what we experienced as well. There was a tremendous lack of standardization, consistency and uniformity in general. 

Those great engineering minds who formed ASME responded to that call to action to help prevent these accidents in the future. 

This slide is a timeline of ASME standardization milestones. History is going to point to those three accomplishments right there, in 1914, 1916 and 1919, as three milestones that were the key to the success of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: the release of the ASME Boiler Code, the formation of the ASME conformity assessment set of programs, and the founding of the National Board in 1919.           

There was a certain genius in the creators of that code in embedding many of the oversight steps into the requirements of the code. Those conformity assessment requirements or oversight requirements had been there since the inception, as you see here in the specific paragraph of the 1914 Code. 

Transforming from the 114 or so pages that were in the 1914 Code into what we have now, 32 volumes I think now, 12 different sections, soon to be 13, and over 17,000 pages of content, those conformity assessment requirements or oversight requirements are still there. That truly makes the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code unique. We not only have technical or administrative requirements in the Code, but we also have those conformity assessment requirements in the Code. You really need both in order to have a successful code. What good are technical requirements if there is no way for you to verify that those requirements were built exactly the way they were specified? 

Along the way, there was also a need for uniformity, and that's when the National Board was formed. Again, what good would a set of oversight requirements be if we didn't uniformly apply them across all companies and manufacturers? The formation of the National Board was key in that boiler and pressure vessel ecosystem. 

We are in a situation where the National Board essentially represents a way for us to apply uniformly what's in the Code to what's being produced, and everybody is involved in this. 

All of the National Board are involved in that:

  • from the chief inspectors who are on the front lines in the U.S. and Canada where they are focused on that pressure and equipment safety to the engineering and code professionals that are part of the actual code committees that help develop those rules;
  • to the training specialists that go in and train those in the inspection portion of this ecosystem;
  • to the consultants that go out there and actually conduct those audits to make sure everybody is up to code;
  • to the administrative and executive professionals that make sure the engine of the process, the process that goes from one assembly line piece to the other, those like Connie and Jodi, who help move that process along smoothly and seamlessly;
  • to the volunteers that are involved in that process; and
  • to the members that are part of the National Board. 

They all contribute to that safety and key uniformity aspect of this ecosystem. 

We are indeed stronger together. Over the years, we have chugged along like a well-oiled machine, ASME and the National Board, putting together that one system to qualify all inspectors to a common set of requirements.

The standards development process is truly second to none with the National Board, and all user categories involved in that standards development process. 

We have a conformity assessment process that verifies that the pressure equipment constructed is in full compliance with the Code. Not partly in compliance, not in accordance with the Code, which I hear all the time, but in full compliance with the Code. 

And the National Board and manufacturer's certified data report is accepted by the respective jurisdictions.

We are indeed stronger together. 

So the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code itself represents the crown jewel for ASME. Really, there is no other system like it. It's a very difficult system to duplicate, and yet we have operated it very well for the last one hundred years. That's why we are the envy of many organizations out there. They have tried to put something like this together and were never quite able to do it like we have. 

The reason why we continue to stay together and move forward in the same direction is that we essentially share a mission and vision together. 

From ASME's vision to develop the best, most applicable codes, standards and conformity assessment programs in the world for the benefit of humanity, to the National Board's mission, which I believe to be a very moving mission, driven by the vision of a global uniform safety of boilers and pressure vessels so that every man, woman and child may never again experience the devastation of pressure equipment failure. Those visions and missions align together, and that's why we have been in lock-step together for the last one hundred years. 

There are some challenges ahead. 

We need to make sure we are not complacent. We need to make sure that we advance as technology advances so that the standards development committees incorporate many of those technological advances into the Code so that we continue to stay relevant not just domestically but globally. 

As technology advances and becomes more complicated, our oversight techniques and our ways to verify that they are in compliance with the Code become very complex as well. So we need to make sure that we have the proper techniques to go through that. 

We also need to make sure we adopt new materials, design, manufacturing processes, and examination techniques. 

We need to avoid that natural, age-old apathy that can set in when everything appears under control.

We need to look at the past to ensure future successes. 

We need to make sure that we continue to have strong leaders on both sides to continue this partnership. We have been very lucky on the ASME side and the National Board side that both parties are able to look back at that shared mission and vision to keep moving forward together. 

And we want to make sure we continuously educate and expand our outreach efforts, and not just domestically, but globally as well, because we are a globally recognized system.      

Over the past five to seven years, we began this global outreach. The National Board and ASME are recognized throughout the world, but some in the global community don't necessarily know what we do, what we stand for, and what we try to accomplish. 

So we set up these series of ASME/National Board C-360 workshops. We reached out to our existing certificate holders, some potential certificate holders, existing standards users throughout the world, various ministries, agencies and government officials. We talked to them a little bit about ASME standards, ASME conformity assessment programs, and National Board programs that are associated with that. 

The goal is to reach out to potential certificate holders, to try to retain our existing certificate holders, to explain to them the value of the mark that they are holding in their hands. 

We want to try to demystify that auditing process. That word "audit" is a very scary term, not just in the United States, but outside the U.S. as well. So we try to demystify what is actually involved in an auditing process. We try to establish proper auditing preparations so they don't go in there unprepared. 

We want to establish that National Board and ASME value proposition, versus competing programs, or versus no program. 

We have been trying more and more to dispel this idea that something that is built in accordance with the Code isn't something that is in full compliance with the Code, so we have been trying to demystify that as well. 

Finally, we try to explain why ASME and the National Board, over the course of a hundred years, are the best in class and are the gold standard. There is no equal to what we do. 

We started out this journey in 2014, 2015, and this is just a sample of the areas we have been to. Various members of the National Board staff and ASME staff have come together to meet in these different places to talk about our value proposition.           

And they have been very well attended. This photo shows Columbus, Ohio, with a group of about 80 people. In Madrid, we had 105 attendees show up. We only had 85 or 90 certificate holders in Spain, yet we had over a hundred people in attendance there to listen to what we had to say. 

This photo shows 120 people in India. This was the first workshop that we held in India for our BPV program. 

This photo shows 150 people in Milan during an NDE conference. 

Our audiences just keep growing. Word of mouth that we are there just brings more and more people together to listen to us. 

This photo shows a dedicated nuclear workshop with 160 people in India. 

This was 212 people in Argentina with various ministries and regulatory agencies in the audience listening to us speak. 

This photo shows 297 folks in Shanghai when we held a workshop there a few years ago. It kept growing. 

We had 550 people show up at this conference in Nanjing a couple of years ago.

We had almost six hundred people show up to this conference a couple of years ago. 

Just this past April we broke a little bit of a record here. We had close to seven hundred participants listen to what we had to say. 

That name recognition is very strong throughout the world. They continue to listen to us, and we should continue to keep talking to them. 

This is just a sample of the many presenters throughout the years speaking on behalf of ASME and the National Board. Again, this is just a very small sampling of people that delivered that ASME/National Board message. And it helps that we all get along when we sacrifice our weekends and nights to get together to speak about the ASME and National Board message. 

We try to stay in sync, ASME and the National Board. We make sure that we meet at least twice a year to talk about issues, resolving those issues, and getting together to come up with new programs, new things that we want to work on together. 

During these annual meetings, one in Columbus, one in New York City, we talk a little bit about the coordination amongst the team leaders; talk a little bit about coordination amongst the programs, both from a process point of view and from an auditing point of view. 

We try to coordinate our designee training. We handle those every two years. I think we are going to go back to every year for that. 

We discuss coordination of those audits. We want to update and revise our procedures, policies, quality programs, for a little bit of a refresh and review. 

And we have committee participation on both sides. 

I wanted to close out a little bit, and just really thank the National Board for one hundred years of this partnership. It's been a great experience for me, and I know it's been a great experience for my predecessors. 

So long as we continue to go with that mantra of "One code, one inspector, one stamp," and continue to make safety first our North Star, we are going to do great things together. 

I will close it up with my favorite quote, your vision and mission: "So that every man, woman and child may never again experience the devastation of pressure equipment failure." 

Congratulations to the National Board on one hundred years of excellence, and we at ASME really look forward to working with you in the years, decades, and centuries to come. 

Thank you.