Richard Denning: SaRS President has been appointed Deputy Chair of the BSI technical committee on Dependability We caught up with him to find out more:

Q) Can you explain a bit about the role

A) The deputy chair supports the Chair of the committee by taking on specific coordination activities while improving knowledge of the Chair’s role, with the intent that in due course the deputy can steps into the Chair’s role

Q) What is BSI and a technical committee

A) Under it’s Royal Charter BSI is the National Standard body for the UK, it has a number of technical committees for various subjects which are charged with developing and maintain standards in their subject area.

Q) What is dependability and TC DS/1

A) Dependability is the overarching term used in the international standards community to cover subjects such as Availability, Reliability, Maintainability, Testability, Maintenance and Support. The standards under the remit of DS/1 include:

  • overarching management standards,
  • Standards on specific techniques
  • Standards covering the detailed mathematical and statistical calculation which supports the various techniques
  • Introductory guides
  • Agreed terminology

In order to fulfil this remit, as well supporting national standards it ensures that the interests of UK stakeholders are adequately represented in international standardization activities in these fields the committee will input to international committees IEC/TC 56 Dependability and CEN/TC 319 Maintenance.

In total the committee supports around 100 standards

Q) Why are standards important

A) Standards make life easier – from the simple things such as standard electrical plug sizes so that any UK plug will work with any UK socket or standard bolt sizes which means that we can repair things without having to have bespoke spanners or replacement bolds made to measure. For the standards I work on, it is about getting common terminology and definitions so that internationally we are talking the same language it is also about standardising techniques so that when someone says they intend doing X we know that it is X and not X minus or even Y. Another way it is about codifying good practice which helps to share knowledge

Q) How did you get involved with DS/1

A) I was encouraged to join by the then MOD Principal Reliability Engineer as he thought it would be good experience and as a member of the committee, he thought that the Safety and Reliability Society (SaRS) should be represented. Twenty years later – I am representing both SaRS and the MOD as he was correct, during my time on the committee I have worked with both National and International experts, growing my knowledge not only off specific standards but of the wider field of dependability. One of the things I did not expect was to gain a fuller appreciation of the English language as working internationally it is always eye opening when you realise that your perfectly crafted text is ambiguous when read by someone who is not a native English speaker or when it is translated.

Q) what was the process for becoming Deputy chair

A) I was encouraged to apply as it was felt that my expertise and experience would be a good match to the role, so I completed a simple application form and updated my CV to focussed on my standards experience. I also reread BS0 – the standard for standards which explains how the standard making process works. There then followed an interview which was more of a discussion about the standards process and how DS/1 could improve. The followed a couple of months wait until the BSI Standards Policy and Strategy Committee approved my appointment

Q) What do you hope to achieve

A) The strength of the committee is the pool of volunteers who support it, I hope to be able to help expand that pool be engaging with other bodies who have an interest in our work

Q) What is your proudest moment from your involvement with DS/1

A) Seeing a Defence standard, I was involved in creating, published as a British standard and then converted to an international standard and then seeing it being called up by NATO and various non-defence organisations.

Q) How has your employer benefited from your involvement with DS/1

A) I believe that there are 4 benefits to my involvement:

·       Increase knowledge of these standards – allowing me to recommend here use and reduce the need to produce internal standards

·       I have influenced standards to make them more suitable for our use

·       Growth of my knowledge which I have used to support projects across the business

·       Improved soft skills developed through working cross sector and internationally

Q) Would you recommend others becoming involved with standards

A) Absolutely for the following reasons:

  • Standards are developed by volunteers, if we do not have diverse representation in the development stage, the standard will be weaker than it could be
  • If you have ever read a standard and thought which idiot wrote this – do something about it get involved
  • Develop yourself – not only learn more about the subject, but get to work a wider set of people than in the day job

Q) Finally, when do you find the time?

A) Much of the activity involves drafting or reviewing/commenting on standards – which means it is something which can be done as and when – as I find the activity interesting I tend to do a lot in my own time – so for instance I have just downloaded a couple of standards for review and will be reviewing these while on holiday while sitting in the sun with a cool drink. And of course now most meetings are remote so it is just a question of adjusting my diary to keep the odd couple of hour slot free

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