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As a member of the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) the Australian TC130 contributes to a process of development that results in the formal adoption of global standards for the Printing and Graphic Arts industry. This means examining documents that define achievable outcomes and reflect normal industry practice. They are based on the real world experience and expertise of the members of the technical committee who are entrusted with defining, proposing, revising, debating and, ultimately, voting on the specifications and tolerances that will become the agreed target for any enterprise wanting to adopt standards based print production.

The ISO has a systematic approach to this process that allows for flexibility and an informal exchange of ideas and opinions in the lead up to the adoption or review of a standard. There are two tiers of membership in the TC130: Observer (O) and Participant (P). Australia has a P-member status and is obliged to formally indicate their preference by voting on all stages of the development process.

When new technologies and processes emerge, or when mature technologies evolve, a New Work Item Proposal (NWIP) is initiated and a Working Group (WG) or sub-committee is formed. The WG is composed of interested experts nominated by their parent committee who feel they have specific expertise and want to contribute to the development process. The aim of the group is to identify and define the criteria by which a new standard is to be gauged or to review and refine existing specifications. By way of example a new standard is under development for digital production printing while established standards for offset printing have been revised.

When the WG has completed its work a Committee Draft (CD) is prepared and circulated to the members of the TC130. After a period of review, P-members are required to vote for the adoption of the CD as a Draft International Standard (DIS). This is where most of the technical discussion takes places between members of the various national Technical Committees. The result of these discussions is a refined document that is circulated for adoption as a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS). Voting against adoption at either of these stages has to be justified with technical explanations. As a result of this process it is very unusual for major reviews of issues to arise with an FDIS.

It should be noted that in between each ballot other associated documents are circulated. These may include:

  • Detailed technical reports
  • Working Groups reports
  • Extensive comments from the review process
  • Minutes of meetings
  • The results of ballots
Since Australia officially received its P-member status the volunteer membership of the AU TC 130 has reviewed over 600 ISO documents and coordinated the voting of the committee on many ballots through Standards Australia. The process ensures that the Australian printing industry is well represented and up-to-date on global trends affecting the industry enabling it to achieve standards of production that are internationally recognised as technically sound as well as economically and environmentally sustainable. In doing so it contributes to the long-term viability of printing and graphic arts in Australia.

Mark Stegman
AU/TC 130