Setting Corrugated Standards: An Opportunity to Make a Difference

It is impossible to share knowledge without a common language. For the pulp, paper, and corrugated industries, that common language includes meaningful industry standards. As an ANSI-Certified Standards development organization, TAPPI’s peerreviewed standards ensure that products meet recognized best practices and demonstrate how to maximize performance. They spark new ideas and operational methods to improve production.

Despite the important role that standards play, many professionals don’t know how the process works. The truth is, TAPPI members and volunteers themselves are the ones to drive the development of the Standards and TIPs used around the world.

Benjamin Frank, Ph.D., director, Materials Research and Innovation with Packaging Corporation of America, is an acknowledged packaging expert. The former chair of the Corrugated Division’s Fiberboard Shipping Container Testing Committee (Fiscotec) as well as the Quality and Standards Management Committee (Q&SMC), he is actively involved in several Standard Specific Interest Groups (SSIGs) as well as the US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Standards Organization’s Technical Committee 6 (ISO TC 6). He shares his insights here.

Paper360°: What would you tell people who have never participated in Standards activities?

FRANK: Jump in! The more people who get involved, the more we can build on what we have, the more likely we are to get Standards correct, and the better off we are in terms of producing Standards that work well.

Even though we all have day jobs, you can be involved with Standards without having to spend hundreds of hours on them. As a Working Group chair, much of the time spent working totals 3-5 hours. I’m sure we all have places in our calendars to do that.

How can someone get started?

Get started by simply reading Standards, joining a Standard-Specific Interest Group (SSIG), and voting on whether you feel Standards as written are appropriate. By surfacing problems, and either getting them corrected or putting bounds on where the Standard is valid, we can find opportunities to build new ones and create fresh ways of identifying, measuring, and working with our materials.

What is the benefit of volunteering to work with Standards?

Working with Standards is one of the most collaborative and scientific things in the industry. It’s satisfying knowing we have done it right. The information we gather, the things we learn, and the way we outline a given Standard helps people understand what they’re doing and why.

Standards also help them get the right answers. Some people do not realize Standards exist, or may be doing testing and not realizing what’s in the Standard. Their results are often different, which brings home the importance of speaking the same language. Those writing Standards invent new words, and people who participate in Working Groups review the Standards, maintaining the dictionary by which we all speak.

To learn more about Standards and to join an SSIG, contact [email protected].