Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Landwards, the magazine of the U.K. Institute of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE), and has been adapted with permission. Members of the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA) contribute to the standards and legislation process by shaping documentation and ensuring that engineering solutions are workable for industry. Heading up this function is Keith Hawken. Keith is a chartered engineer through IAgrE and the Engineering Council program. He progressed to Eur Ing status in 2008, which complemented the university and practical background he gained during his time with the Robert Bosch group. In 2016, Keith earned a doctorate in the U.S. with a concentration in mechanical engineering. Keith has worked in industry for 43 years, completing two apprenticeships (tool maker/fitter and jig & tool design draftsman) while with Qualcast in Derby. His family had over 270 years of service with the mower company, and Keith also spent time at ATCO, as well Bosch, before joining AEA in 2000. “Standards have been a key focus of member interest since AEA was founded back in 1875,” Keith said. “In fact, BSI (British Standards Institute, the U.K. national standards body) was formed in 1901, and the two have complemented each other ever since. But the remit has grown wider over the last 50 years. Standards are not mandatory but are a great way to achieve conformity in respect of legislation.” Over time, British national standards have gradually disappeared to become European standards, so that everyone can follow the same requirements, although the BS numbering still appears. The goal has always been to achieve global parity, and that is why you still see standards numbered BS EN ISO for use worldwide. AEA and its members contribute immensely to standards production on behalf of industry. Once an internal agreement is reached, the views of consumer groups, testing institutes, related associations, government departments, and other contributors are considered until consensus is achieved, and this is taken forward as the U.K. view. On behalf of industry, AEA holds external secretariats for five national committees, which includes addressing document control, collating comments, and uploading new work onto the BSI website, as well as balloting procedures for the U.K. Beyond this, AEA and its member representatives also hold secretariats for the European standards committees (CEN) for mowers, hedge trimmers, all-terrain vehicles, side-by-side vehicles, etc., and three convenorships for working groups on subjects such as PTO shafts, accident statistics, chainsaws, brush cutters, lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and other garden-related products, which are all important for maintaining the influence of U.K. industry. AEA is also a member of the Machinery Directive working group in Brussels, where decisions are made on the validity of standards within the legislative process. “This has been a real challenge,” said Keith, “As member states normally allow only government representatives to participate. But over the years, the knowledge and expertise of AEA have gradually become vital, acknowledged, recognized, and we have helped shape legislation with some common sense approaches.” Keith recalled when he was first invited to attend. “We were not allowed to speak, but now the 60-strong membership, from all EU countries, listens to the issues that we address. In particular, the fatal accident story is much improved from when we first started, as the member states have begun to understand how complex the machinery is, and how we are dealing with this using safe designs that are prompted by work in the standards area.” “These issues take time,” Keith said, “And much goes on in the background as we continue our quest to prevent fatalities. Now we are down to 1% of U.K. fatalities for which machine design may be a contributory factor, and we will spend an enormous amount of time and energy to reduce this even further. Mainland Europe is a different story, although many fatalities there are due to a lack of training and education. We are trying to address this with our new statistical reporting standard, which will help identify trends and areas that need to be looked at.” Internationally, AEA has gained respect in the global standards effort. In particular, ISO (International Standards Organization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) are vital areas of interest. AEA holds secretariats for knapsack sprayers, vocabulary standards, sprayer closed transfer systems, baler and bale wrapper safety, harvesting and conservation machinery, manual forestry equipment, chainsaw and brush cutter vocabulary, as well as symbols and pictograms. AEA members also hold various working group convenorships. After a maximum nine-year stint, Keith will shortly conclude his chairmanship of the ISO/TC 23/SC 7 testing committee, which looks after combine harvesters, foragers, mowers, balers, and thrown objects. He is also chairman of ISO/TC 23/SC 17, which looks after chainsaws, pole pruners, brush cutters, and forestry machinery, for which AEA hosted an international meeting in September 2016 that welcomed representatives from 14 countries to work through the next series of documents that will become standards. Over 100 committees are tracked by AEA members, including interfaces with legislation and regulation. AEA sits on the Agricultural Tractors Working Group in Brussels and has contributed to new legislation on type approval. Importantly, much of the standards wording is now included in the legislation, and the ability to change is much easier than under the constraints of the E.U. trilogy of parliament, council, and commission in the past. “AEA punches above its weight in all forums,” said Keith, “And the results are for all to see, particularly the ISO and IEC initiatives, which help manufacturers sell their products globally.” Keith’s former work as a homologation/type approval engineer involved compliance with many different regulations in different countries. “It was a nightmare trying to shore up a specification to meet various markets, but today this is much easier, and I believe it will still be fine even after we are on the periphery of the E.U.” In the last few years, a couple of European countries did not allow machines to be placed on the market despite all the certificates of conformity (European wide) to the recognized standard. “In some cases,” said Keith, “the job will not be any harder if we are out of the E.U. or in it!” “The key is to know your product, the people involved, and how to use experience within the constraints of the system,” said Keith. “The success of the machines that are available today is due to the safety of their designs, coupled with diligent sustained testing. But we strive for more, always.” AEA core concerns include tractors, towed implements, sprayers, ATVs, material handlers, outdoor power equipment, member research and input, development of standards, and member confidentiality. Legislation is also an active area, and AEA is working on tractor/trailer schemes, emission regulation, machine safety, and market surveillance, as well as broader issues such as overhead power line safety. AEA works closely with other associations in Europe, including its equivalents in other countries (VDMA in Germany, AXEMA in France, and FederUnacoma in Italy) and is a member of the European Committee on Agricultural Machinery (CEMA), the European Garden Machinery Industry Association (EGMF), the European Association of the All-Terrain Vehicle Industry (ATVEA), and other groups in association with ISO and IEC. AEA standards at a glance: • 1800 standards in the AEA library. • £250,000 value of the standards library. • 160 new standards per year. • 120 new legislative documents per year. • 2,500 technical documents per year. • 15,000 technical e-mails for action per year. • Monthly technical bulletin for members. • Representation on 100+ standards committees (U.K., E.U., and global). • Many meetings in the U.K., meetings in mainland Europe most weeks, and several meetings a year in North America and Asia.
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