Standards make life safer, healthier and easier for people, organisations and enterprises all over the world. They enable and simplify communication and trade, while allowing resources to be used more efficiently.

Along with patents and measurements, standards are recognised as a core part of the infrastructure that supports innovation in the UK.

All areas in the gas cylinder sector can benefit from adopting standards, from global manufacturers and fillers to small local firms carrying out cylinder remanufacturing work.

Many businesses of all sizes lack sufficient information to make effective use of standardisation. If a business is not at present using standards, then serious consideration should be given to adopting them wherever possible.

For a business involved in any area of the gas cylinder sector, being compliant with the relevant standards can save time, effort and expense, while giving added peace of mind that legal responsibilities have been met.

Obeying regulations (such as RID, ADR) can be much more challenging when diversifying into new markets or trading in non-domestic territories. Although practices and regulations can and do vary (think cylinder filling ratios), standards can provide the information necessary to make the trading of cylinders and their associated services in new markets much less difficult, time consuming and costly.

Standards enable innovation by defining and measuring cylinder performance, leaving the user free to adopt a standard without divulging intellectual property. Arguably, the most innovative businesses have the most to gain from the strategic use of standards.

Informal standards
Businesses, associations or organisations can develop their own informal standards and can, if they wish, seek the help of BSI to do so.

An informal standard can be something as simple as a company having guidelines on how staff members should answer telephone calls or a trade association having a code of practice for its members. In many instances, informal standards can bring many benefits and help a business or organisation to achieve its objectives.

Complying with standards
To claim compliance with a standard, all that is necessary is that it is bought, read and its requirements are implemented in all relevant areas of the business.

For added weight, some businesses choose to have their compliance verified by an outside auditor or test organisation.

The Kitemark, BSI’s own highly regarded and well-recognised symbol of trust and integrity, shows that a cylinder complies with the requirements of an appropriate standard. The presence of the Kitemark assures the user or buyer of a cylinder that it has satisfied rigorous test procedures.

Pi marking is associated with the compliance of a cylinder with the relevant European directive(s) and resulting national legislation.

Cylinders that are governed by European directives are required by law to carry a Pi mark if they are sold or imported to any of the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA).

How standards are created
Standards are created when a genuine market or societal need has been identified and are frequently the result of requirements that come directly from industry.

This could be when a business develops a new product or process to which no existing standard can be applied. When this happens, businesses can work with the BSI to develop a new standard.

BSI Technical committee PVE/3 (Gas containers), which acts in a management capacity, is responsible for agreeing the scope and purpose of any new cylinder standard. Its scope extends from the initial design, manufacture and testing of the cylinder to its periodic inspection and testing when it is actually in service.

PVE/3 is also responsible for the UK input into various related International and European Technical committees. PVE/3 members take a very active part in International and European standards work, travelling within Europe and internationally to take a first-hand part in drafting cylinder standards.

Some of the international and European standards that PVE/3 is involved in are, once they are published, adopted in the UN Model regulations. PVE/3 is structured to take full advantage of Members Expertise in different areas:

* PVE/3/1 is responsible for standards related to Valve fittings for gas containers;
* PVE/3/3 is responsible for standards related to Transportable gas containers – Cylinder design, construction and testing at the time of manufacture;
* PVE/3/7 is responsible for standards related to Gas cylinder (receptacle) operations;
* PVE/3/8 is responsible for standards related to Hydrogen technologies

Standards are drafted within specific rules to ensure that they can be applied consistently and (where appropriate) methods are given whereby any requirements can be consistently demonstrated.

A draft version of each standard is made available for public comment, at which time anyone with an interest (from inside or outside PVE/3) can express views. All feedback is then considered by PVE/3 before the finished standard is approved and published.

BSI staff coordinate the cylinder experts work to ensure that developments in the sector are embraced and reflected in new standards, and that standards are published to schedule.

Why should I get involved?
BSI welcomes and is very keen to actively encourage approaches from those who are interested in influencing cylinder standards work.

Although it requires time and effort, there are a number of direct benefits that can be gained from participation in the development of cylinder standards.

Although participation in the work of PVE/3 is unpaid, in some circumstances, funding assistance is available when international or European travel is required.

Standards can be a versatile tool, but if a business chooses not to participate in their development then others are likely to shape markets for the area(s) of the cylinders sector that particular business is interested in.

About BSI
BSI is the UK National Standards Body (NSB). It is responsible for facilitating, drafting, publishing and marketing British Standards and soliciting, co-ordinating and submitting the UK view in international and European standards work.

Although it is entirely independent, the organisation works closely with government, business and other interests.
BSI provides UK businesses and others with access to and influence in standardisation in Britain, Europe and around the world.

BSI has many established technical committees that consider the views of all interested parties in their area of expertise and then agrees the details of the new or revised standard in draft form.