5 SEPTEMBER 2001
By Francis E. Farrugia, Malta Standards Authority Chairman
In this month's International Organisation for Standards' monthly bulletin, MSA Chairman Francis Farrugia wrote at length on Malta's involvement in standards - from the Neolithic times to the present day. Following are extracts from his column. A recent interview with Ing. Farrugia can be found on our web site.
Temples made to measure
The architecture of these temples is both beautiful and inspiring, and their scale impressive yet human small wonder, indeed, they have been declared a World Heritage. Although the Egyptians are considered the pioneers in the use of standards, it has been scientifically proven that these megalithic temples are over 1,000 years older than the pyramids and than Stonehenge (United Kingdom), and considering their symmetry and orientation, it can be easily deduced that some form of measurement and practices (standards) already existed. Furthermore, the temples themselves also served the purpose of measuring heavenly movements.
In fact, many researchers have studied the phenomena of celestial bodies alignments along the main axes of these megalithic temples. It has been established that the Mnajdra temple, in particular, is not only aligned with the sun, but also reads the equinox, summer and winter solstices, the cross-quarter days and the eighth days.
Closer to our times, one of the first pieces of legislation in the field of standardisation was the Weights and Measures Ordinance of 1910, which established the system of measurements on the island, and also introduced legal metrology.
One of its objectives was the establishing of uniformity of Weights and Measures. Its provisions ensured fair-trading and consumer protection. Being a colony at that time, probably one of the reasons behind the introduction of this legislation was to safeguard the interests of British services personnel against fraud... when ordering their pint of beer!
The standards scene in Malta Malta Standards Authority
Announcement in the Official Government Gazette that the standard has been adopted as a Maltese standard.
Publication of an endorsement page, noting that the standard is adopted with the standard enclosed.
Its actual publication is either a:
Publication of the whole text in English.
Publication of the whole text in Maltese.
Publication of the whole text in Maltese and English.
MSA was accepted as correspondent member of ISO in January 1992 (see ISO Bulletin, Vol. 23/No. 5) and as full member since January 2001. MSA is also an associate member of IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), an affiliate of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) and CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation), and full member of ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute). The Authority has taken all the steps to become a full member of CEN and CENELEC by the end of 2001.
Relating standardising to the needs of the country
On the domestic level, a number of technical committees have been set up, and presently work is being carried out on the preparation of various hygiene standards covering areas such as catering services, sale of foods from mobile stalls, butcher shops and others. Another TC is working on a Maltese Keyboard standard, the title of which is Keyboard allocation of graphic characters for data processing. This standard conforms to MSA ISO/IEC 9995-1, MSA ISO/IEC 9995-2.
After various discussions with the major interested parties, as well as after a number of practical sessions, the Technical Committee decided that the alphanumeric zone of the keyboard would be provided with 48 keys to which the graphic characters are allocated.
Various mirror technical committees have been set up to cover the standardisation work of CEN, CENELEC as well as of ISO. MSA is presently participating as an O-Member (Observer) in a number of ISO technical committees. Given the limitations of the island, full participation in the future is envisaged in those areas which are of direct interest. The areas identified include telecommunications, financial services, management systems and tourism.
As in most countries, the standard which tops the selling list is the ISO 9000 family on quality management, followed by ISO 14000 family on environmental management and ISO/IEC 17025:1999, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. Use of standards is very widespread on the island, primarily due to the fact that the majority of the manufacturing companies are subsidiaries of major European and American organisations. Furthermore, penetration of international markets by local industry demands the use of standards. A recent research study by the author showed that over 10 per cent of the labour force are employed in ISO 9000-certified organisations.
Introducing standards into university courses
In order to further propagate the use of standards, a Standards User Group was set up last year, where members are provided with a range of information and discounts when purchasing standards and attending courses and conferences. In October 2000, a seminar on the importance of standards was organised on World Standards Day. The theme chosen for the seminar was "The Benefits of Standardisation to Industry," and to deliver the key speech the Authority invited Paolo Morelli, Vice-Chairman of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) and Director of UNI (ISO member for Italy). Preparations for this years seminar are already underway.
Who does the work?
The operation of this directorate is overseen by the Board of Standards. This Board was established by the Authority to supervise the realization of the policy and decisions of the Council of the Authority in respect of voluntary standardisation issues. The Board of Standards is also responsible for examining proposals for new standardisation work; it makes recommendations on the setting up of technical committees, supervises the work of the committees and diffuses standardisation work prepared by the Authority.
Internal rules were drawn up as guidelines for the preparation, the transposition and final adoption of standards.
When the Board of Standards accepts recommendations for a new or revised national standard, an announcement is first made in the media so as to invite any interested parties to participate. The development of national standards is the responsibility of the technical committees.
These committees are constituted to be representative of all the interests in the standardisation programme. Wherever practicable, the committee structure is aligned with that of the corresponding international or European standards organisation, so that the Maltese mirror committee responsible for national work has responsibility for input to relevant international and European work.
Total immersion in standardisation at all levels