84th GM Presentation Hrubala

The 84th General Meeting Featured Presentation
Bernard Hrubala

ASME's Impact on Global Safety

The following presentation was delivered at the 84th General Meeting Monday afternoon session, April 27. It has been edited for content and phrasing.


ASME has had a profound impact on global safety. No one knows this better than our next speaker. Bernard Hrubala is an ASME governor. He is presently global business development manager of TUV Rheinland AIA Services L.L.C. Having graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a master's degree in education, Mr. Hrubala is a respected business group leader with over 30 years of extensive and diversified experience in the pressure vessel equipment industry. This experience includes conformity assessment, codes and standards compliance, jurisdictional requirements, quality assurance, inspection, and auditing. Additionally, he is a qualified authorized nuclear inspector supervisor with demonstrated and comprehensive working knowledge of state, national, and international conformity assessment programs.

Mr. Hrubala's slide presentation can be accessed here.

Mr. Hrubala:

It is a pleasure to address this group today and talk about ASME and the global impact on safety. What I'm going to show you and walk through is three basic topics. I am going to talk about the beginning, the why and when. I am going to talk about global safety. And we are going to talk about the outcomes, the results, and the outreach, and, of course, the future.

I would be remiss in my duties if I did not share with you the vision and mission of ASME standards certification. We always must keep that in the forefront. The vision is to develop the best applicable codes, standards, and conformity assessment program worldwide for the benefit of humanity. And our mission involves the best and brightest people from all around the world to help develop and maintain the codes.

I want to stop here in the mission because that involves everyone sitting in the audience. All of you here participate, whether it's on the inspection side, standards or code development; you are part of the mission statement that makes the ASME codes and standards what it is today. So I personally thank you for that, and I'm sure ASME does too.

The beginning: Why, when? I'm not going to go back way through the history, but let's just quickly start. We all know the first standard was issued in 1888. In 1914, we got the first Boiler Code. 1916 was the first issuance of stamps for the U.S. and Canada. In 1917, we had the Uniform Boiler and Pressure Vessel Law Society. I think when it first started it was the American Uniform Boiler and Pressure Vessel Society. And of course, who can forget 1919, the formation of the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors.

Where are we today? Fifty committees, 700 members, six supervisory boards, and 500-plus standards. What we can't forget when we talk about ASME codes and standards, is there are a lot more codes and standards besides boiler and pressure vessels. It runs the gamut from ASME inspections, to pumps, turbines, and tools. If it moves, vibrates, pumps, rotates, or contains pressure, it's an ASME standard. Think about that.  

When we think of safety and global impact, I'm sure everyone in this room is thinking the reduction of boiler explosions, the operation of boilers and pressure vessels, and the loss of property; right? That is a key part of it. During the industrial revolution, we had a high use of steam power to move our machinery, and with that came increased accidents -- many, many boiler explosions.

We are going to hear today from Mr. Jennings talking about the Sultana, a major boiler explosion. Approximately 1,800 people were killed. We were comparing notes: 1,200 people in a five-year period, and 1,900 separate explosions. And then 58 people in Brockton, Massachusetts, in that shoe factory. That boiler explosion leveled a whole city block, and a boiler ended up in somebody's house. Can you imagine that? It's bad enough hearing on the news that a 90-year-old woman drives a car in somebody's house; now you have a whole boiler in your living room. So when you think of safety, this is what comes to mind.

What we are going to learn today is that ASME codes and standards safety, along with National Board, has a greater global impact. Speaking of the National Board, in Detroit in 1921, the die was cast. And there were three objectives or principles that were established: one uniform code, one stamp, and one means of examining qualified personnel. Those were the three principles.

Prior to 1970, ASME and the National Board were doing a very good job. The number of boiler explosions declined. We had the formation of the Boiler Code. We had the formation of the National Board. We had the right marching orders. But when you look back prior to 1970, it was only manufacturers who were in the U.S. and Canada. Certificates of Authorization were issued, but the program I would say, compared to today, needed a lot to be desired, as did how they went about it. You just needed a simple inspection agreement. You had to be employed, of course, by a state or municipality, which is still current today, and a Canadian province or insurance company.

You will later know that we expanded that. Authorized inspectors (AI) are qualified by examination under the rules of any state or province. So you see once again what it means for examination. Now, here is what's interesting. A report was also required by a state indicating that the manufacturer is qualified. Anybody here been involved prior to this or shortly after this time period? Because I will tell you what, I bet there were a lot of inconsistencies in the way they were qualifying ASME manufacturers. Agreed?

Think about it. A report was also required from the state to indicate it. What were the parameters based on what they indicated? We still had our work ahead of us. So let's talk about the beginning. As I said, the National Board and ASME were on a curve. You are talking about 58 years has pretty much elapsed, so we are into the early '70s now. And the states were taken care of, we had adoption, we had the rules, boiler explosions really declined. We even thought we had the federal government on our side because they were starting to adopt and reference some of the codes and standards in their application.

Well, we were wrong. July 1970: the USA vs. ASME and The National Board for the Sherman Antitrust Act. They challenged ASME on the Sherman Antitrust Act. They were challenging us by saying, which technically was not right, that the way we were organized, the way we were qualifying and certifying manufacturers, the way the laws were written in our current states, that it was virtually impossible for a manufacturer outside of the United States to comply with our rules and get pressure vessels into the state.

Even though you did say one stamp, one means of examination, it's still not there. Even though ASME had their openness and consensus process, it wasn't good enough. So it was a barrier to trade. Two years later, after many discussions, the consent decree was issued. And in short what it just said was, “Hey, ASME and the National Board, you have to make your stamps available to foreign manufacturers who meet the same safety and technical requirements as those in the U.S.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? And then it also required the National Board to accept data reports. So now we are at the outcome. You see the beginning? Clearly there was a beginning when we were brought into the global market. So what was the outcome? We had these major challenges ahead. We had to develop procedures and processes to enable foreign manufacturers to obtain their certification. Again, it may sound simple, but just think of the authorized inspection agencies at that time. It was like the chicken and the egg thing. What do we do first? Do I set up a local residence in some country? Which country do I pick? Or do I wait for manufacturers to be certified and then go to that country to provide third-party or designated oversight inspection? How do I do that?

The National Board was saying, “Whoa, how am I going to train and qualify those people? Do I go there, do they come here, who monitors that?” And then, of course, the ASME with their review teams, “Wow, how am I going to get people over there? Who is over here?” So all of these challenges we said we are going to need to work out to meet and continue to meet the consent decree. And we are talking 1972.

But if you think about it, there are drivers behind this. This quest -- I will use that word -- this quest to have manufacturers outside of the U.S.A., this quest to have manufacturers say, “I want to be an ASME manufacturer,” or “I want to get a National Board R stamp,” those are natural drivers. The inherent desire for safety, we are not alone in this. There are countries all over the world outside of America that had the same desire, same request, brought on by owners, users, and governments that say, “Hey, we have got to have a safe operation here in our factories, if you will.” And they too were using steam power.

We had the problems here in the U.S.; we solved them. But outside the U.S., they still needed to have safe boilers and pressure vessels; they needed inspections and installations there as well. What I'm saying is that without the Sherman Act, if you will, that we were allegedly challenged on, we were destined to go international anyway.

Look at this as just a little push, a little push over the edge; right? No harm, no gain, it was good. Well, a lot of gain I should say. So fast-forward now, and I'm going to talk about the impact. Other than safety or safe boilers and pressure vessels, it was the ASME code and the National Board code, too, as a means of meeting the jurisdictional and regulatory requirements; okay?

People are using that, it should be no secret. We know that we have over a hundred countries that are recognizing the code. It facilitates trade. It provides a means for the enterprise. In other words, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code makes a level playing field for the manufacturers. There is a global benefit. This is a good one. I don't think anybody explored this, and I know I did when I came across this when I was doing some research. I never thought about the codes and standards as having an economic impact. And you see here what Mr. Evans says: The international language of commerce is standards. The international language of commerce is standards. Adherence to product and service specifications enables goods to flow across all boundaries, regardless of the spoken language. The common acceptance of standards is fundamental for free and fair trade. Wow. I know I have been doing this for over 30 years now, and when I sit on standards development committees and we write standards and write regulations -- I'm sure you all have been too -- I don't sit there and the committee chairman doesn't sit there and go, “Well, did we pass the economic impact test?” It's just naturally occurring. When you think about it, that is a good economic benefit of codes and standards not only for our country, but also outside of the country.

Continuing with the results of ASME codes and standards, it's referenced now in national regulations: India, Nigeria, South Africa, and Colombia. It's been translated into many languages on their own and you also know that we have a Spanish version. So again, there’s an inherent need for safety. It’s the driver.

Prior to 1970, our government was adopting the ASME codes and standards. This is a testament to the good works that the codes and standards and ASME have done for not only within our country, but outside our country. The U.S. code and federal regulations from the Department of Transportation, now the Department of Energy, has referenced our standards.

Let's talk about international participation. Part of the global need and the global impact and one of the strongest parts that are becoming significant to the ASME continuance of their development of codes and standards is now gaining more international participation. This is one of those things where if anybody in the audience is working with business development or the sales part, one of the key things about selling is when you have a good product, the wink is instead of you chasing the customer, the customer is chasing you. “Wow, now you have got a good product.” This is what's happening. Our customers internationally are chasing us for the standards and the use of the standards and wanting to participate. Phenomenal. That is what we need.

Currently, there are over 5,000 standards members. Fifteen percent are from outside the U.S. I would say that fifteen years ago you could probably count on one hand how many members we had. That is good for growth. And now over 50 countries are represented on the ASME development committees.

Again, they are coming to us. They are coming to us. They want to get in the game; they want to be with us. The individual membership comes in a variety of different programs. There is a delegate program, which basically says in a specific region or geographic region, where travel and the English language is difficult, they elect a delegate to represent a certain core group that can participate in the development of ASME codes and standards. And today it's 20 or more delegates that we have working with our codes and standards. It’s a good program.

Then there are contributing members, which are basically experts who are appointed to the committees associated with their expertise and interests. In this case we are able to reach out and find these experts for the good of our work thanks to our networking. And then there is the international review group which is made up of representatives of those different countries that have adopted, recognized, or used the ASME code as a means of meeting their regulatory requirements. Therefore, they want to be involved in this continuing development change in the code to make sure it doesn't affect what they have already adopted or are using or perhaps make it better.

Here is what I think is one of the best for international participation: the international working group (IWG). The best way I can explain that, is that they are a mini-ASME. It's a small version of what we have here, what you see here today this week, but it's smaller in a precise geographical area doing the good works of the ASME codes and standards and bringing to us what they need in their country to have safe pressure vessels, safe elevators, safe whatever you name it. That's what they do. IWG members have the same privileges as an ASME member, they vote on proposals, etc. Think of it this way, it's a smaller version of our larger ASME organization. They don't have meetings like we have here today, but they do meet.

Korea, China, Germany, India, and Italy now have their own international working groups, and they meet typically before our Boiler Code Week and they are supported, just like the volunteer members here, by manufacturers and the government where they are self-supported. And this is still growing.

I had the privilege to meet several members and leaders of the IWG groups. Phenomenal, phenomenal people. The interest there, the dedication to develop codes and standards internationally is just wonderful to see. To me personally, the international working groups are a very important part of our international impact.

Talking about global impact, let's just quickly shift and look at the manufacturers all around the world. The first manufacturer was in India in 1980. China was 1985. The tipping point was around June 2010, when there were more ASME manufacturers certified outside of the U.S.

In 2003, '4, '5, '6 – that's when you start to really see things take off. In Beijing we opened up an office in 2005, and then in India it was 2008 because of the need and want. It wasn't for our need. It was just like India said, “I need you to be here.” Prior to 1970 there was nothing -- nobody else outside of the United States. And look at it now, look at it now. Forty-three years later, look at what we've got. Talk about impact. Talk about moving. This would be a manufacturer's dream. I think the only company that can grow at a rate like this is probably Apple. This is a fantastic growth rate.

What about training? Yes, ASME reaches out for training. Eight thousand participants over a hundred different countries are participating in our codes and standards. Latin America is one of our major customers. Now, I have to turn to the National Board, “International.” By saying “National Board International,” I'm not looking to rename it. Don't get nervous. I'm looking at this by saying National Board on an international level. Who would think that the National Board would currently be in eight countries with all these endorsements? Who would think that National Board has close to 2,000 endorsement inspectors outside of North America? Who would think that since 2010, National Board would have 11 classes outside of North America? Wow.

We all have got to be open and transparent; we have got to have fair trade, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And collaboratively between ASME and National Board, we are working on it. Look at the repair stamp programs at the National Board. Who would think you'd say 43 years ago the National Board would be in 61 countries providing the R stamp with over 1,000 R stamp manufacturers? That would be unheard of. But they too had to respond to the customers' requests, as I said. They did not chase the customer, the customer chased them.

Let's look at a timeline for the change in impact. 1972, '73 -- '72 was the first manufacturer. Shortly after that, it was in France. The name of the manufacturer I forgot, but I can tell you I do know they are still in business today. And then following '73, the Guide for Evacuation from Stalled Elevators. Talk about a global impact. That's used around the world. '73, Committee on Qualifications for Inspectors. We went into the metric system. We had the Binational Elevator and Escalator Electrical Code. In 1992 -- this is a good one -- 1992 was the first authorized inspection agency accredited. We had a beautiful system for certifying manufacturers, but then the organization given responsibility to carry on the third-party inspection work, they themselves were not certified or accredited. So it was not until 1992 that we put together a program that ASME said, “Hey, I think we ought to have an accreditation program for the designated oversights,” as we call them.

In 1995, QA-1, not as we know it today, but it started to evolve. In 1999 -- this is a very good reference here -- the codes and standards were voted one of 10 engineering feats that advanced the quality of life over the last 100 years. Wow, that's a pretty good statement. Performance-based design for the elevator – that was a challenging one that generated a lot of discussion.

But that's a bold move. But think about it. It won't be long -- I'm not saying that we can get away from a descriptive code, but think of the boiler and pressure vessel industry; we ought to start thinking too of a performance-based standard. Look at the BED, it's working, and our ASME code, descriptive code, is accepted in over 113 countries, so that might be something that we may want to consider, performance-based.

The single mark: Like it or not, we have to move to the single mark, because now that we are so bold, particularly that we now exceeded with manufacturers outside of the U.S.A., can you imagine if we had to reregister the trademark and keep track of some 28 ASME stamps? That was a lawyer's dream, but it was a nightmare trying to do that. So part of the initiative was going to one stamp, and we also recognized that the pressure-driven directive of the European communities was the one stamp, the CE. So that's part of adapting to the needs of the customers outside of the U.S. and the global impact need.

What ties all of this together? Remember, we are in over 100 countries -- and what ties this together and makes it successful? It’s the ASME codes and standards working with the National Board. One code, one stamp, one means of examining the inspector or one means of examination. We have got to be open and transparent in our development of codes and standards. We have to be mindful of the technical barriers to trade. The impact of all of this rests with the good works of the ASME and the National Board.

So let's look at the future. ASME will deliver locally-relevant engineering resources to advance public safety and quality of life throughout the world. Specifically, provide locally-relevant standards and certification programs to positively impact the quality of life throughout the world. That's the future. That's your future too if you are in this with us. In order for ASME to continue in the future, we have to easily integrate geographic variations. We have to be on the forefront of technology advances. We have to technically align with other national codes. How do we do that? Through international working groups, networking, having a presence in the community, and involving our stakeholders.

Leonard Zick presented a paper April 25th, 1972. This was even before the consent decree was published. And in his closing remarks in 1972, he said: “Only time will tell whether or not the steps we have taken today will hold up as well and serve the industry as well as the decisions by our predecessors.”

Think about that. He was dead on. He nailed it. Actually, he welded it. I hope, that at the 127th General Meeting, in another 43 years, someone else will be standing up here and challenge everyone in the audience to say, “Did we do it or not?”

This will hold true.