SNV Story No. 6: Standards compendium 2022

Unique worldwide – the standards compendium for all MEM occupations

Every apprentice in the Swiss mechanical, electrical and metalworking industry (MEM industry) knows it: the standards compendium. The majority of them use it intensively during their training and later in their everyday working life. First published in 1941, it is now a classic in the industry and indispensable. This month sees the publication of the hot-off-the-press 2022 standards compendium. We visited the volunteer group of authors in the final phase of the creation process.

Clearly structured
The standards compendium does not appear every four years just by chance. This rhythm is coordinated with the duration of an apprenticeship in the MEM sector. The first edition of 1941 was quickly known as the VSM Booklet and contained 55 pages. The 17th edition will make it to a whopping 590 pages. The individual chapters have grown steadily over the years, and so it was inevitable that there would be overlap in the content. In the current edition, the group of authors has now sorted out, combined like-with-like and generously configured the chapter structure. The almost 4,000 learners in this training year can look forward to a version with a “fil rouge” that is intuitive to grasp and easy to read.

The VSM standards compendium appeared for the first time in 1941. 2015 was the first time it also released as an e-book.

The VSM standards compendium appeared for the first time in 1941. 2015 was the first time it also released as an e-book.

The first VSM booklet had 55 pages, today it has a whopping 590.

The first VSM booklet had 55 pages, today it has a whopping 590.

The group of authors behind the standards compendium.

The group of authors behind the standards compendium.

Updated contents
An essential part of the pages-long work is still the ISO GPS standards system, which is explained in great depth. Compared to the 2018 edition, the topics of adhesive bonding, surface protection and wear protection are covered more comprehensively. Some chapters have been completely added while others have disappeared. It is important to the group of authors that the content reflects practical experience. Today, not a single learner makes drawings by hand and therefore the corresponding content has fallen away. Even if such steps are sometimes emotional, they are necessary for the sake of timeliness. All in all, learners will find around 500 international standards summarised and edited compactly between two book covers. If all the standards texts dealt with were printed out in the original and stacked, this tower would be several metres high.

Silver lining visible on the horizon – the last round of corrections is coming up.

Silver lining visible on the horizon – the last round of corrections is coming up.

Discussion material is always available, especially when the underlying standards have not yet been finalised and there is room for interpretation.

Discussion material is always available, especially when the underlying standards have not yet been finalised and there is room for interpretation.

Concentration in the classroom, where apprentices in the MEM sector will also later learn about the standards compendium.

Concentration in the classroom, where apprentices in the MEM sector will also later learn about the standards compendium.

Lexicon of the industry
The standards compendium is not an actual teaching aid, it is a supplementary reference work for all learners and a bridge builder between theory and practice. In it, apprentices will find all the tables, standards and regulations they need for their professions, for example as polymechanics, draughtsmen, automation engineers or apparatus engineers. It is a constant companion at the vocational school, at the workplace and must also be present at the final examination. The standards compendium is also available digitally and enriched with multimedia content and practical functions. Experience shows that learners keep their standards compendium over many years of work, and so the year of training can be easily determined on the basis of the book lying on the bookshelf.

Adaptation requests and corrections are prepared for the graphic studio.

Adaptation requests and corrections are prepared for the graphic studio.

Over 500 standards are summarised in the standards compendium. There is a lot of heart and soul and a wealth of experience in every page.

Over 500 standards are summarised in the standards compendium. There is a lot of heart and soul and a wealth of experience in every page.

Each of them brings his or her individual practical knowledge and many years of experience to the group of authors.

Each of them brings his or her individual practical knowledge and many years of experience to the group of authors.

No success without a standard
MEM apprentices quickly learn during their training how important standards are in their industry. Design and compliance with standards determine competitive advantages and market success. They also acquire knowledge about the hierarchies in the standardisation system. Thus, ISO is the highest international form of standards. If Europe ratifies an ISO standard and adopts it 1:1 in an EN standard, all European countries, including Switzerland, undertake to apply it equally at the national level. Consequently, the SN EN ISO standards then emerge for Switzerland. The standards compendium focuses on international standards and helps learners to understand the interplay as well as the demarcation at all levels.

Compare, examine, exchange, discuss, reject, argue, agree. As heated as discussions may be, it is always about the matter at hand.

Compare, examine, exchange, discuss, reject, argue, agree. As heated as discussions may be, it is always about the matter at hand.

Drawing examples from then and now. What was long drawn by hand is now done by computer.

Drawing examples from then and now. What was long drawn by hand is now done by computer.

Correction rounds are numerous. Dani Baur graphically implements the adaptation requests – and not just in one, but in four languages.

Correction rounds are numerous. Dani Baur graphically implements the adaptation requests – and not just in one, but in four languages.

Internationally in demand
The Swiss Standards Compendium is unique in its design worldwide. In Germany or South Africa, for example, there are purely table books, or in America and Canada there is only a traditional engineering manual. Such an advanced, extensive and yet compact book is unique. It is therefore not surprising that Swissmem and the SNV receive licence requests from governments or universities from all over the world. As the standards compendium is not only available in German, but also in French, Italian and English, foreign companies are also regular customers. It can be proudly reported that the standards compendium has a worldwide star cult.

The standards compendium 2022 will be printed in an edition total of 27,200 and will be available from the SNV and Swissmem Shop starting from the end of June.  

The standards compendium 2022 will be printed in an edition total of 27,200 and will be available from the SNV and Swissmem Shop starting from the end of June.  

The standards compendium is a joint project of Swissmem and the SNV.

The standards compendium is a joint project of Swissmem and the SNV.

Always a proud moment: The first standards compendium is hot off the press.

Always a proud moment: The first standards compendium is hot off the press.

Voluntary working hours
The group of authors behind this masterpiece is a motley crew. Designers, professors, materials specialists or cantonal chief experts and many more work together towards one goal: to provide learners with the best reference book. This is out of passion for the profession and a sincere interest in promoting young talent. Sometimes this leads to heated discussions during working sessions. Especially when standards have not yet been finalised. The nice thing, however, is that it is always all about the cause and the joint lunch afterwards has never been at stake. If specialised knowledge needed within the group is lacking, researchers and experts are sought out in the companies and asked for input, corrections or feedback. This great commitment is mostly done in their free time and unpaid. And working according to the standards compendium always comes with writing the standards compendium. While the learners are coming to grips with the current edition and finding their way into the professional world, the group is already working on the next edition in 2026. Among other things, future manufacturing processes or model-based definition will be dealt with in depth there.

Walter Zlauwinen

Walter Zlauwinen opened the doors to the working group and answered our questions about the standards compendium. He works as a design engineer and has been a member of the working group since 2006. At the time, he reported a spelling mistake in the standards compendium and because of this slipped directly into the work. The fascination for the subject has not left him until today.

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