Over 12,000 ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards are used around the globe, standardizing work in engineering, manufacturing and many other fields. The standards created by ASTM cover everything from construction standards and sustainable design to chemical research and environmental safety. ASTM standard use is ubiquitous across a wide variety of industries, but where do these standards come from?
Origins of ASTM Standards
The origins of ASTM standards can be traced back to the late 1800s and The Pennsylvania Railroad Corporation. During this time a Yale Ph.D. recipient by the name of Charles Dudley was promoting a new standard in material specifications for steel rails. In his first major report “The Chemical Composition and Physical Properties of Steel Rails,” Dudley analyzed the durability of various types of steel rails and recommended an improved formula for manufacturing steel rails to be used by Pennsylvania.
Though Dudley’s first major manufacturing standard did not catch on right away due to disagreements between suppliers and manufacturers, this experience would lead to the creation of the first technical committee for material standards in the railroad industry. This technical committee produced the first manufacturing standard with the ASTM label and became the basis for the ASTM organization that we have today.
Using ASTM for Pavement Management
ASTM D6433 outlines various standards that are used to identify pavement distresses and measure their impact on the overall condition of the pavement. The concept of PCI (Pavement Condition Index) actually comes from the ASTM standards. To read more about PCI please see our article “Understanding PCI and what it means for Your Roads”.
There is an immeasurable value in an objective, scientifically-based standard through which pavement condition can be quantified. Through the use of measurement tools included in the PCI standards from ASTM D6433, each distress that is recorded during a pavement survey can be assigned a numerical value and factored into an overall assessment of the pavement quality. This is used to determine everything from proper rehabilitation techniques to accurate pavement deterioration curves, which in turn help to form the groundwork for budget models.
The ASTM standard defines pavement distresses, alerting survey crews and analysts of the degree in which severity and frequency of a distress impacts the overall PCI score. In addition to outlining how a distress should be calculated, it also outlines how it should be measured. For example:
ASTM standards have an enormous value in science and engineering, forming the bedrock through which industries can perform objective measurements and build models based on proven techniques. In pavement management, it is no different. ASTM D6433 outlines the basis through which pavement distresses are measured and factored into the overall condition of a pavement segment. By basing the processes of pavement management on sound logic and proven techniques, municipalities all over America can accurately and objectively plan for the future.
Want to learn more about spotting a failing pavement surface? Check out "A Guide to Key Indicators of Failing Pavement" - An IMS Whitepaper