ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Voluntary Standards Cover the Spectrum:

From Refrigeration to "Electric" Checks

New York, Mar 21, 2002

Like the steady pulse of a heartbeat that performs an invaluable task for the human body involuntarily, voluntary standards secure the reliable function of the home and workplace without the average citizen's awareness.

In an effort to communicate the vital role that standards play in daily life, ANSI Online News will publish on an ongoing basis a series of snapshots of the diverse standards initiatives undertaken in the global and national standards arena, many of which are performed by ANSI members and ANSI-accredited standards developers. Here are two of the latest selections:

Refrigeration

The invention of the refrigerator has led to improved health benefits for millions of consumers worldwide. One of the primary organizations responsible for maintaining the safety of refrigeration units is the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE), an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer. ASHRAE has recently increased the scope of one of its oldest standards, originally published in 1919 and last updated in 2001 as ANSI/ASHRAEE 15-2001, Safety Standard for Refrigerating Systems, to include safety procedures for operating equipment and systems of building occupants and systems technicians. The new version of the standard, currently undergoing a public review for approval as an American National Standard (ANS), now reflects safety standards for lithium bromide/water absorption chillers, which are prominently used in commercial refrigeration units. The organization has also published a position document on Ammonia as a Refrigerant, wherein ASHRAE expresses its commitment to continuing research on and developing standards for the use of ammonia in refrigeration as an eco-friendly alternative to chlorofluorocarbon-based and hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants.

Check Processing

To reduce costs and upgrade the efficiency of its check processing system, the Federal Reserve, the single largest, nationwide processor of checks, announced that it will adopt an ANS that emanates from the ANSI Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X9. X9 is administered by the American Bankers Association, an ANSI membership organization that represents banks of all sizes on issues of national importance for financial institutions and their customers. The Fed's implementation of X9.37, Specifications for Electronic Check Exchange, will allow the government agency to exploit Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR), a technology that involves the addition of a black magnetic strip to the back of a paper check. Banks rely heavily on magnetic ink data to credit, sort and pay billions of checks annually. The development and implementation of a single standard MICR data format helps to reduce the cost and complexity of the nation's paper-based payment system because MICR detail would be transmitted electronically without moving paper checks. The cooperative relationship of the public and private sector in "electrifying" the check is an excellent example of the benefits to industry and consumers of government reliance on voluntary consensus standards. Full implementation of the new check processing system is scheduled to take place by mid-2005. But we at ANSI hope the Fed will accelerate this transition process, especially when tax time rolls around and we're anticipating the receipt of our tax refunds. Until then, we'll accept government checks in any format-just not rubber.

This snapshot was made possible by the steady stream of press information disseminated by standards developers who keep ANSI abreast of their achievements. As the Institute receives news of published voluntary standards and voluntary standards initiatives with broad appeal and impact, similar articles will be posted to the ANSI Online News page. Please continue to forward your updates to the Communications and Public Relations department at (f) 212.398.0023 or (e) pr@ansi.org. For additional information on the wide array of standards applications, see the Media Tips and Case Studies section of the Institute's website.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel