This article reviews about the views of Madiha El Mehelmy Hotb, the Head of the Pressure Vessels Technical Services Division for Regie Du Batiment Du Quedec, on how ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code has evolved over the years. Hotb reveals that during the 1980s, ASME’s regulatory approach covered all aspects of the life cycle of a boiler or a pressure vessel from design to being taken out of service. It also confirmed every step in between – fabrication, installation, repair and modification, and in-service inspection. During later years, the institution moved toward accreditation of authorized inspection agencies, changed the publication cycle from three years to two, eliminated addenda, and restructured the Code committees. New Section VIII and division 2 were written, and the Codes were published in digital electronic format. Hotb believes that the Code will continue to be widely used and adopted in future. It will have a bigger and larger input from all over the world and will have further outreach and adoption by far more countries.
It was in the summer of 1981 that I was first introduced to the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. I joined the engineering and technical support group of the Pressure Vessel Department of the Ministry of Labor of the Province of Quebec. This responsibility is now under La Regie du batiment du Quebec.
My duties and responsibilities were primarily to provide technical support to the group of inspectors who were charged with oversight of the provincial regulation respecting pressure vessels. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is adopted by reference in the regulation.
Our regulatory approach back then was the same as it is today, a cradle- to-grave approach. We covered all aspects of the life cycle of a boiler or a pressure vessel from design to being taken out of service, and confirmed every step in between–fabrication, installation, repair and modification, and in-service inspection.
The task was huge and the responsibilities were heavy to bear, but the rewards were great. Working in the public safety domain is no small task. It is more than just a profession. You really have to believe in what you are doing, and it becomes your mission.
What was a difficult task became easier as I got more familiar with the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and got a better understanding and knowledge of it.
Years later, I became the Chief Boiler Inspector for the Province of Quebec, and this position led me to become the member representing the province on the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors. I also became the jurisdictional member representing the Province of Quebec on the Conference Committee of the BPV Code. In that role, I began to work with many Code committees.
Serving on ASME Code committees introduced me to recognized experts from industry and gave me the opportunity to interact with them. What an enriching experience!
Attending my first Code Week, when all the committees, subcommittees, and working groups meet, was an intimidating and challenging experience that allowed me to see hundreds of volunteers putting their own personal interests aside, and contributing their technical expertise and personal perspective in the development of a world-class document. Whether it was a question about welding, design, material, nondestructive examination, or conformity assessment, by attending and participating committee meetings I always learned new information and found new challenges.
Participating as ASME President in the 100th anniversary year of the Boiler Code was no small event. It allowed me to be part of the celebration. During the week of the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code meeting in Seattle, Wash., held in conjunction with the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, I had a chance to meet and celebrate with many of the staff andvolunteers who devoted many years of their professional lives and endless hours of their personal and family time to contribute to the development of the Code.
I had a chance to reflect on the journey of the last 100 years and look at how far we evolved in the short time in which I have been personally involved. We moved toward accreditation of authorized inspection agencies, changed the publication cycle from three years to two, eliminated addenda, and restructured the Code committees. We wrote the new Section VIII, division 2, and we are working on the modernization of Section I. We also published the Codes in digital electronic format, and developed C&S Connect and CA Connect, internet portals for codes and standards and for conformity assessment.
These are just some examples of many efforts and many things that happened in the last few years that we considered unthinkable not too long ago. Our strength as an organization setting the standard is largely dependent on our capacity to adapt and change to meet today’s needs.
My travel during this past year as President of ASME provided me the opportunity to recognize first-hand how our ASME Code is recognized as a premier document and how it is gaining worldwide recognition. The openness of our system and the efforts that were made to get the international communities involved in our standards development has definitely paid off and made us a stronger, richer organization. The delegates program and the international working groups that have been established in different countries have been very successful. They not only opened us to the world but also opened the world to us. Many delegates and members of our international working groups were present in Seattle and took part in our anniversary celebration.
There is no telling how the Boiler Code will look 100 years or even 50 years from now. It may have technical requirements that we cannot imagine today. No one can predict how the committees will be structured or conduct business. We cannot say what the format of the finished document will be.
“Working in the public safety domain is no small task. It is more than just a profession. You really have to believe in what you’re doing, and it becomes your mission.”
Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb
One thing is certain, though. ASME will keep up with technological advances and will adapt as the state of the art advances. The Boiler Code will not change, however, in one single aspect, which is the one for which it was first developed, safety.
The Code will continue to be widely used and adopted, will have a bigger and larger input from all over the world, will have further outreach and adoption by far more countries, will contribute to the safety of billions of people, and will make the world that they live in a better place.