MIL-PRF-38804, Preparation of Time Compliance Technical Orders

MIL-PRF-38804 Revision C with Amendment 1 is titled “Time Compliance Technical Order, Preparation of.”  It’s one of the military’s TMSS specifications, on Technical Manual Specifications and Standards.  I used to write a column on changes to these documents for the Society for Technical Communication and find that folks still have questions about this particular military document.

The first thing people need to know is the definition of Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO).  The answer can be found in TO 00-5-15, “Air Force Time Compliance Technical Order Process.”

It states “TCTOs provide instructions to modify military systems or commodities within specified time limits, initiate special ‘onetime’ inspections, or impose temporary restrictions and track configuration on systems or equipment.”

TCTO’s are similar to Service Letters or Service Bulletins, a technical update that has a specific time value assigned to it.  Some examples are Immediate action, Urgent action and Routine action.  TCTO’s are frequently used for Air Force aircraft, for example.

The MIL-PRF-38804 covers the general style and format requirements for creating TCTO’s and TCTO supplements. These type of Technical Orders need to be developed according to this performance specification and also to those requirements specified by the acquiring activity. In addition to delivery in paper format, MIL-PRF-38804 provides for electronic delivery of data using the specified Document Type Definitions (DTD), if required.

This Mil Spec, and all publicly distributed DOD specifications and standards, are available from Document Center Inc. at our website,  We’ve been supplying industry with these documents since 1982.

Or call us (650-591-7600), fax us (650-591-7617) or send us an email ( with any questions or comments.  We appreciate hearing from you.

ICS (International Classification for Standards) Codes can help you identify the standards you need

The ICS (International Classification for Standards) Codes are intended to serve as a structure for cataloging standards by subject area.  It is similar to the Dewey Decimal system for books in the library.  They’re used by standards bodies at the International Level (ISO and IEC), the regional level (CEN and CENELEC in Europe) and at the national level (ASTM International for example).   Understanding the ICS schema can help you find the standards you need to maintain the use of best practices in your organization.

The scheme is made up of 3 levels, each divided by a period.  The first level is a two digit number that specifies one of forty specific areas of standardization.  Some examples are 11 (for Health Care Technology), 25 (for Manufacturing Engineering) and 29 (Electrical Engineering).

Each of these area is then divided into 392 groups for level 2, this time a three digit number.  So for Health Care Technology, the 11.040 covers Medical Equipment, 11.060 is for Dentistry, and 11.080 is for Sterilization and disinfection.  For section 25, 25.040 is Industrial automation systems, 25.060 is Machine tool systems, and 25.200 is Heat treatment.  And in section 29, 29.020 is Electrical engineering in general, 29.030 is Magnetic materials, and 29.045 is Semiconducting materials.

Many of these level two designations still are rather broad, so there is a possible level three (for 144 of the 392 level two groups), again separated by a period.  Some examples would be 11.040.40, Implants for surgery, 25.040.30, Industrial robots, Manipulators, or 29.060.01, Electrical wires and cables in general.

You can find the documents you need by drilling down using the links to above which direct you to lists sorted by the ICS Code numbers.   Or you can use the references in to specific documents like ASTM B633 and use the link found towards the bottom of the page in the section “To find similar documents by classification.”  In the case of ASTM B633, the ICS Code is 25.220.40 (Metallic coatings).

Should you find documents you like to purchase, they are available from us at our website.  Or contact us by phone (650-591-7600), fax (650-591-7617) or email (  Remember, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have about this or any standards-related topic.

Use of BS EN 10204 for compliance with the Pressure Equipment Directive (97/23/EC)

BS EN 10204:2004, titled Metallic materials, Types of inspection documents, was published in support of the Directive for Pressure Equipment (97/23/EC).  This New Approach Directive allows for self-certification of compliance with European Regulations.  By following the EN standard when doing business in Europe, one can be assured of meeting the requirements of the Directive.  But what exactly is required?

This EN Standard specifies the different types of inspection documents supplied to the purchaser, in accordance with the requirements of the order, for the delivery of all metallic products, e.g. plates, sheets, bars, forgings, castings, whatever their method of production.  It may also apply to non-metallic products.

But the document itself does not contain any inspection directions. Indeed, it must be used in conjunction with the product specifications which specify the technical delivery conditions of the order itself.

So what exactly does it specify?

The document first of all defines a series of document type designations, like Type 2.1, Declaration of compliance with the order, and 2.2, Test report.  For each document type, there is a brief description of the content and the validating entity.

So for Type 2.1, Declaration of compliance with the order, the description is “Statement of compliance with the order” and the validating entity is the manufacturer.  For Type 2.2, Test report, the description is “Statement of compliance with the order, with indication of results of nonspecific inspection.”  The validating entity is again the manufacturer.

Terminology is defined in the beginning of the standard.  And a chart is provided to specifically show the use of EN 10204 to support the 97/23/EC Directive.  Reference is additionally made to EN 10168, Steel products – Inspection documents – List of information and description.

So, the BS EN 10204 does not describe specific requirements for any given order.  The expectation is that the order itself will define the product specifications required.  The document does however, define a series of document types issued by the manufacturer in which he declares that the products supplied are in compliance with the requirements of the order and in which he may supply test results if required.

The BS EN 10204 and all BS EN standards are available from Document Center Inc. at our website,  Or contact us by phone at 650-591-7600, fax at 650-591-7617, or by email at  Your questions and comments are welcome.

Document Center’s Standards Audit — Are your standards current?

Here at Document Center Inc., we know that one of the most difficult tasks for Document Control personnel, or any standards user for that matter, is keeping a collection of standards current.  Documents often change without a great deal of publicity to the public sector, leaving the user vulnerable to the liability of using obsolete documentation.

So to help our customers solve this problem, we developed our Standards Audit service.  We take a list of the documents our customer is using, complete with document numbers and dates.  We review each document to confirm that the customer’s copy is complete and correct.  Any item that a customer should have is noted on a quote that includes the document number, revision information and dates.  This allows the customer to go back to the collection and confirm that indeed the items are missing or not.

Our system allows us to review standards much faster and with greater accuracy that a person might do on their own.  Knowing where to go for all information on a standard is not as easy as one might think.  For example, its not unusual for us to get a document from a source organization that’s missing an errata.

So if you have  a document collection and need some help prior to a certification review or just to gain peace of mind, contact us for a Standards Audit.

We’ll need a list of the documents you maintain, with as much information as you have, like title and revision information, including dates.  We’ll use the list to get you a quote for the cost of the audit, since this depends on how many documents you include on your list.  Then you’ll authorize the transaction with a purchase order or credit card and the audit will be done in 2 to 5 days!

You can reach us by phone at 650-591-7600, fax at 650-591-7617, or by email at  We look forward to hearing from you.

ISTA 2A New 2011 Edition for Packaged Products is now available

ISTA 2A, Packaged-Products 150 lb (68 kg) or Less, has just been released as the 2011 Edition.  The new revision includes both technical and editorial corrections.  It is available for sale from Document Center Inc.

This standard is a partial simulation test for individual packaged-products.  ISTA suggests that it should be considered for the evaluation of packaged-products intended for international distribution.  The package and product are considered a unit in this procedure.  They also suggest that not only should an organization use the procedure to evaluate the performance of a packaged-product, but also to compare different package and product design alternatives.

At Document Center, we often get clients asking about the issue dates on ISTA procedures like the 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and so on.  This is because ISTA releases each of their procedures annually with the new year as the date on the cover in the upper right hand corner.

To really understand the situation for each standard, you’ll need to look at the left hand sidebar on the cover of each.  There you’ll find a section called “Version Date.”  Underneath it will have the date of the last technical change and the last editorial change, if applicable.

A technical change is a change that impacts the technical content of the standard.  It has the potential to impact the validity of the application of the standard.  If you use an ISTA procedure, and there is a technical change to the document, you should get the new edition just to make sure you’re still in compliance.

An editorial change, on the other hand, is a modification to the document that does not impact the technical content.  It could be a change in the address of a referenced organization, a modification in the format of a table, or some other change for the sake of editorial improvement of the document.  It can be important to have if you’re getting audited, but not so important if all you’re interested in is the technical content.

ISTA has also been providing an additional type of change to their documents – a change they’re calling Clarification.  An example of this would be the new edition of the ISTA 3H which has the new clarification, “Before You Begin Compression revised for clarification when using the Apply & Release method.”

If you need any of the ISTA procedures or have any additional questions, please contact Document Center Inc. via our website at, or phone (650-591-7600), fax (650-591-7617) or email (  We’re always ready to assist you with your standards requirements.

IEC 60825-1 Interpretation Sheet 2 now available

Interpretation sheet 2 for IEC 60825-1, SAFETY OF LASER PRODUCTS – Part 1: Equipment classification and requirements, has just been released and is available from Document Center Inc.

This leads to the question, “What is an interpretation sheet?”  The answer is straight-forward.  It is an explanation of a section of the standard written by the committee to help people properly fulfill the requirements of the standard.

Interpretation sheets are generated by a request from a user for guidance on a clause or sub-clause.  The Interpretation Sheet 2 for IEC 60825-1 covers Subclause 8.3 f 3) and provides the user with additional information to clarify this part of the standard.  It’s 4 pages long and is dated 1/31/2011.  Two of the pages are in English and two are in French.

The request for clarification may come directly from a user or perhaps from a certifying organization.  The committee receives the request, creates the information sheet, votes on it, and if accepted releases it as an additional component of the document.

Document Center Inc. has this and all of the IEC standards in stock for immediate fulfillment.  You can purchase standards at our website, or by phone at 650-591-7600, fax at 650-591-7617 or email at  Should you have any further questions about this or any standard, please get in touch.

ISO 9001:2008 – Are you using the right edition?

If you’re certified to ISO 9001, Quality Management Systems – Requirements, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right edition of the document.

With new changes released in 2009, there’s some confusion over exactly what is the current edition of the ISO-9001:2008.

The problem stems from having a corrected and reprinted edition released at the same time the Technical Corrigendum was issued (7/15/2009).

So in fact, you can have your document one of two ways, and you’re going to be just fine:

1.  You can use the corrected and reprinted 4th Edition from 7/15/2009.  This is a completely reprinted copy with the changes integrated into the text of the standard.


2.  You can use the original 4th Edition from 11/15/2008 and the Technical Corrigendum from 7/14/2009.  In this case, the changes are contained in the Corrigendum (correction sheet) only.  So you’ll have to manually integrate the 7 pages of changes into the original 11/15/2008 copy of the standard.

What determines which path you take?  If you get the reprinted and corrected document, you’ll have to pay for the standard again.  If you just get the corrigendum, the costs will be minimal.  But you’ll have to spend the time to get the changes integrated into your original copy.

In either case, Document Center Inc. can help you with copies available of all 3 components.  Just get in touch with us at, by phone at 650-591-7600 or on our website at

Administrative Changes to Standards — What does it all mean?

One of our customers called today just to ask us what some of those odd changes to Standards actually mean.

Since purchasing standards can be expensive, it’s best to know what you’re going to be getting before you plunge ahead.  So let’s review some kinds of changes that can happen to standards and discuss if they should signal a buying opportunity for you or not.

First up: Reapproval, Reaffirmation and Validation.  All three terms mean the same thing — the standard has been reviewed and is still wonderful just the way it was.  If the standard’s still great, why issue this notice or republication?

For the folks who oversee standards, there is a need to prove to the public that the documents are being maintained.  So good standards practice suggests reviewing every standard you’re responsible for (caretaker of) every five years.  The issuing of a notice or the republication of a standard with a reapproval or reaffirmation date is a way to permanently confirm that good practices have been met.  And this periodic review is mandatory for compliance with the rules of  adoption for American National Standards Institute (ANSI) documents.

FYI:  The validation notice states that a document is still valid for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) procurement.  It is issued by the DOD and reminds us that the mil-spec system is basically support for military purchases.

Next on the list: Editorial Changes.  Most notably used by ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials), an editorial change modifies the document but doesn’t affect the technical content.  You’ll see them as part of the  revision level information in the document number, i.e., ASTM-B899-09e1.  This is the document ASTM B899, 2009 Edition with 1 editorial change.

What could be an editorial change?  Perhaps an association was mentioned in the standard and the address of the association has changed.  Perhaps a phone number was included and the phone number has changed.  Remember, the change will not affect the technical content, so its going to be a non-essential piece of information.

How about a Non-Current or Inactive notification?  Both mean the same thing — The standard is good to use for replacement purposes but is not authorized for new design.  That is, if you have an existing product to maintain, it’s OK to use the standard.  But if you’re going to design something new, use something else.  With luck, the notification will point you to a replacement.  But not always…

A Cancellation Notices is another kind of notice that you may or may not need.  It will be issued for two reasons.  It presents an authorized notification that a standard has been withdrawn and is no longer valid.  And it may provide the caretaker with a way to direct users to a replacement document or to let them know the standard has no superseding document.

All of the changes above are primarily administrative in nature.  They do not make technical changes to the document.  Are they necessary to purchase?

My answer is always, “It depends on the situation.”  For reaffirmations, reapprovals and validations — not necessary unless you have an auditor coming in.  If you use the document for compliance, you’ll want every little thing every time.  If not, then these items are not so critical.

For editorial changes, it’s very much the same situation.  The information can certainly be useful, but if money’s tight it’s not essential.

Cancellation notices are often notated in databases and catalogs.  So unless you need a paper trail (or again, you’re getting audited), it may not be necessary.  But if you have a customer who thinks you should be using an obsolete document, then a cancellation notice or cancellation revision can support your case about as strongly as you would ever want!

There’s a couple more kinds of notices that do cause confusion.  The first is the technical corrigendum.  This is just a fancy name for a change notice.  Don’t let this one go by — It’s got corrections to the document that you will want to know about.  Errata are the same, document corrections that you need to have (usually printing errors to tell you the truth).

Amendments and change notices are in the same category but usually are longer and may offer new information to add to the standard.  Again, don’t leave home without it.

Do you have any questions about the many little things that can be called out to accompany a standard that you’re using or that you need?  Check in with us at Document Center ( by email at or give us a call at 650-591-7600.  We’ll be happy to answer your questions and perhaps it will even be included in this posting or a new one!