Source for ISA standard


Thread Starter


Hi list,
Can somebody point me to a place where i can obtain ANSI/ISA Standard S5.1-1984, formerly ANSI Standard Y32.20-1975 "Instrumentation Symbols and Designations" and Standard S5.2.
Web based sources where i can download them freely would be preferred.

Tomy Zacharia
We would like to be able to give them away.

Unfortunately, these standards are not free, nor can you download them freely from any website (legally). These standards are copyright by ISA, the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society, and can only be used by permission.

You can purchase for download (for a very nominal fee) these standards from the ISA website,

The contribution you make for this service helps to defray the very considerable cost of developing and maintaining these standards.

I'm sure you understand that.

If you would like to help us, ask your company to make a donation to ISA for the Instrument Standards Foundation, and if we can endow the foundation, we may be able to offer standards freely to members.

We are working on other ways to make it easier to get inexpensive or free copies of the ISA standards family, but we need help to do that from you. And one of the most important ways you can help is to not try to get them for free.

Thanks, and I hope this helps.

Walt Boyes
VP-elect, Publications Department/ISA

Curt Wuollet

Hi Walt

This is the information age and that is an anachronistic approach. A suggestion: Why don't you sell really useful forms like CAD templates and bound versions that have added value and offer
the basic text free. This provides a compromise that helps to encourage the use of standards without bankrupting the org. A CD with all the standards would still sell at a fair price for
the convenience factor and people who are just looking for one answer wouldn't have to put money down and wait for snail mail. This is working for other standards organizations. It's time to begin finding ways to transition to more the more open information environment or be left behind. I'm not asking you to give away the store (before you accuse me of that) simply to look at more imaginative ways of answering the needs of both the organization and the users you wish to serve.


Curt Wuollet
Part of the reason the Internet evolved so quickly was the RFC (Request For Comment) system. Anyone could get the standards documents for free. An equivalent system would do better than providing a value stream to ISA. ISA should be able to support itself without charging for the documents. The user community doesn't care if the documentation is slick. We just want the
information. I discount ISA standards as long as they lock them up and charge a fee to get to them.

Béla Lipták

Section 1.4 in Chapter 1 of the 1st volume of my Instrument Engineers' Handbook describes ANSI/ISA S.5.1

Béla Lipták

Juan Valderrabano

Dear Tommy

Only to ISA standard:
You could find and buy this Standard on, I don't about a site where you could download this free. But you can ask to some
Engineering Services Company by your location and they would have this standard. Or you could locate a reference library in some Goverment
Institution or University related to Instrumentation.

Good Luck

Juan Valderrabano
Instituto Mexicano Del Petroleo.
Ingeniero Especialista en I & C
In fact, we are looking at really imaginative ways to provide added value for standards customers. For example, how about a book called "How to use ISA Sxx.0...and get the most benefit from it." And included in the book is
a copy of the relevant standard. So you buy the book, get the standard...or buy the standard, get the book. We're thinking as widely as we can. If you have more suggestions, I recommend that you let Marty Zielinski, the VP of Standards and Practices know. If you want help, join the S&P Board. Contact Marty for that too.


Walt Boyes
VP-Elect Publications Department, ISA the Instrumentation Systems and
Automation Society

Glass, Philip

That sounds like an excellent idea. Not only where the standards should, by design, be used but also suggestions where they might be useful. For example, you could explain ISA S5.1 and how it should be used in building P&ID's and suggest that the same standards be used to develop HMI screens. I think that key element is what has been missing in previous standards books that I've read. The pieces are presented but no instructions on how to build the puzzle. The books read like legal documents which makes them quite boring.
Keep us informed.

Philip L. Glass
Secretary / Webmaster
Central Arizona Section ISA

Matthew da Silva

I second the idea. As a non-engineer and having a very short attention span I often have trouble with standards. A guidebook such as has been suggested would be a valuable addition to the bookshelf.

Matthew Yamatake Tokyo
Hi Walt

I don't have enough money to be involved with ISA, about all I can contribute are clues. I don't suppose Marty hangs out here?


Curt Wuollet

Adolfo Jimmy Saldivias Valarezo

One of the most useful books that I have bought is: DESIGN AND APPLICATION OF PROCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS by Armando Corripio.
This is structured as an ILM Independent Learning Module. I wish I could track down what other ILM you have. But that has been hard for me when visiting the ISA website. A very easy task is to browse the MINIBOOKS. And they are very easy to buy. I wish the ILM were as easy to buy too.
I wish I could enter a section on ISA and go to the ILM section right away, and not having to go to my book and search for other ILM titles available.
This is my suggestion # 1.
My other suggestion is to sell more of these books as pdf.
I am located at Bolivia. When I buy a book, I have to pay U$15 for freight and wait at least 3 weeks. If the book is lost (which has happened 3 times over the last year) I have to make my claim, and wait for a similar period of time.
When I bought a MINIBOOK, I paid U$12 for the book and spent NOTHING in transportation to bring it to my country. And I had the book in the time it took the download. That was great experience. I wish I could have more experiences like that one.
Jimmy Saldivias
Phone: 591-4-523438
Fax: 591-4-523413

Ralph Mackiewicz

WHAT!?!?! You actually expect someone to *BUY* a book or a standard? How provincial. Why can't ISA do something more in line with the new
economy? ISA just can't seem to get itself out of the old way of thinking. If I can get paid to surf the web, why can't ISA pay me to use standards?

Ralph Mackiewicz
Sarcasm alert noted...

but that's the argument we're hearing all the time. "If your standards were free we'd use them."


If you want free "standards" go to the vendors. Each of them has a "standard" they'd love to give you, and make you a devotee of. It's just that if you use theirs, you can't use anybody else's. Some people call that being a captive customer, and others call it Customer Relationship
Management (CRM).

If you want real interoperability, real standards to measure products against, and know that you are getting what you think you are, you have to
have third-party standards, which take professional development, and which cost money to develop.

I don't care if you are ansi, iec, isa, ieee, or costs money to develop a standard, even when most of the actual writing and arguing labor is donated.

Now, some manufacturers have such market dominance that they can develop a "standard" and deed it to the public domain. Hart and IEEE-488 (better known originally as Hewlett Packard Instrument Bus, or HPIB...later GPIB). ODBC, OPC, and Profibus. There are others.

Other manufacturers rely on the fragmentation of the market, and the fact that much controls engineering is being done by people with little training as controls engineers to "slip their stuff by." An example of this is the insertion paddlewheel flowmeter manufacturer whose specification reads in part, "The __(name and model withheld)_____shall be accurate to 1-1/2% of
indicated flow rate in any pipe size from 1-1/2" to 96"."

The "Nightmare on Fieldbus Street" is a case in point.

The movement to "open source" is a reaction to all this. But it is fraught with danger. Somebody has to develop the "oen source standard" itself...and we are back at square one.

Jim Pinto says that defacto standards always win. I say he's slightly off.

In a market that has no recognized single standard making body, and in a market where standards do not have the rule of law, the defacto standard that wins is the one with the biggest bucks and the best marketing, and the
best ties to government intervention and regulation.

Cases in point:


...and anybody can think of lots of others.

ISA faces some very difficult problems in its effort to continue to provide quality standards for automation and control.

1. Vendors challenge and delay every major effort to gain competitive advantage.
2. Other standards making bodies are making automation standards without any coordination between efforts. There are four or five bodies making standards for flow meters without any coordination.
3. ISA standards do not have the force of law: you don't have to use them, unlike NFPA, or AWWA standards for example.
4. ISA spends much more money to support standards development than the standards bring in.
5. Most of the standards are developed largely by volunteer effort, for no pay, and usually no recognition, either. The average volunteer is able to devote less and less time to the effort, and companies are allowing them less and less support.

Unless something radical happens to the standards making effort at ISA, it may be ultimately doomed to end.

Yes, my friends, Tinkerbell is dying.

If you don't want Tinkerbell's light to go out, to the detriment of controls engineers and practitioners all over the world, start clapping now. Clap so we can hear you. In fact, don't bother clapping. Send money, spend time. Help us make ISA standards work. Contribute to the Instrument Standards Foundation. Get your companies to do so. Sponsor employees to do standards work. Do standards work.

If you truly believe, it will work. Do you believe? What? I can't hear you!

Walt Boyes
Vice President Elect, Publications Department, ISA the Instrumentation
Systems and Automation Society

Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
[email protected]
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office

Rob Hulsebos Philips CFT

perhaps a scheme just like the profibus user group does: sell a CDROM full of doc (pdf's)
for a low price, but disallow printing. That's usually enough for the casual reader who only
occasionally needs to find something.

Hi Walt

What I do is a nightmare of conflicting standards and deliberate attempts to prevent standardization and interoperability. That is
the state of the art in the automation market. I have put myself in the position of changing that. With any endeavor, especially one that challenges entrenched, deep-pocketed, incumbents, you have to have a plausible "business plan". That is, you have to have a value proposition that is superior to the competition. (I'll dispense with the buzzwords soon) With the Linux PLC, ours is clearly defined and easily

We will provide a superior solution that is cheaper, faster, and better and is owned by you the user. We will do our best to eliminate
proprietary barriers to interoperability and will never leverage your use of our system to force you to buy anything from anyone. We will guarantee
this by giving you all source code under the GNU General Public License which prevents anyone else from exploiting you or our code. You have
the same rights as anyone else to improve or change the code providing you share the changes for the common good. You may use this in any way
you wish and share it with anyone you wish providing you grant them the same access and rights. Our correspondence and differences are worked out in a public forum in which anyone can participate to ensure that our motives and decisions serve the _users_ interests.

Now, I'm giving you the straight line, I'd like for you to elucidate what your value proposition is. Bear in mind you will find no greater proponent of truly Open Standards as the solution to the "Tower of Babel" we now endure and no greater critic of the fraudulent and subjective use of the terms Open and Standard. We had ought to be perfectly aligned and my cards are all on the table. Why should I use ISA standards?


Curt Wuollet, Wide Open Technologies
Curt Wuollet challenges:
<discussion/sales pitch for Linux PLC deleted to save bandwidth>

> Now, I'm giving you the straight line, I'd like for you to
> elucidate what your
> value proposition is. Bear in mind you will find no greater proponent of
> truly Open Standards as the solution to the "Tower of Babel" we now endure
> and no greater critic of the fraudulent and subjective use of the terms
> Open and Standard. We had ought to be perfectly aligned and my cards are
> all on the table. Why should I use ISA standards?

The value proposition of an ISA Standard is that it is a recognized, professional, impartial, open standard that provides a detailed method of
comparing what you/somebody/anybody are doing/selling against an agreed-upon norm.

Why should you use ISA standards? Because if you don't you have to make up your own. If you make up your own you are in danger of falling into the trap of the vendor-created "standard". The description of the GNU open standard process is the same as the description of the ISA Standards process, basically. Anybody can join a standards committee. No one need be a member of ISA to do that, and about half of our Standards volunteers are in fact, not members of ISA.

If we don't make a stand for real "standards" we get what we deserve.

Why should you use ISA standards? Because it makes sense. Especially for someone with your value proposition, it makes sense to support standards activities that will provide clear and open methods and practices for you to base your PLC routines on, your I/O and math subroutines on.

So, tell me why you feel you _shouldn't_ use ISA standards.

Walt Boyes
Vice President Elect, Publications Department, ISA

Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants
[email protected]
21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office

Heavner, Lou [FRS/AUS]

Walt makes an excellent rebuttal regarding the value of ISA standards. I would also suggest that whether it is good or bad, we live in an increasing litigous society where judges and juries are frequently incapable of evaluating highly technical issues and testimony and end up making emotional judgements. Small integrators and manufacturers may not have a lot to lose
relative to larger corps like Emerson, GE/Allied/Honeywell, Invensys, Rockwell, Seimens, etc. Those big guys try to follow good engineering standards and practises to maximize success and minimze exposure. I'm no lawyer and standards don't eliminate exposure, but it would be difficult to prove negligence if you followed industry accepted/approved standards. One
thing that standards like ISA, ASME, ANSI, etc offer is some manageable level of stability. An open internet based standard like you describe could potentially change more than once during the course of a single project. I'm not saying that is bad, only that large companies face tremendous exposure and are going to try to manage that exposure.


Lou Heavner

Curt Wuollet

> So, tell me why you feel you _shouldn't_ use ISA standards.

I don't , that's why I fed you the straight line. :^) The only problem is, that with my value proposition, I don't have a lot of money
to pay for those standards I need. Especially when I need 3 lines out of a very tedious document. This discourages me and whether or not it makes sense for a million dollar company is irrelevent. You offer no solution for the most
prevalent case, quick answers. If you want your standards to be preferred to guesswork, you need to make them accessable to all at a cost in line with their need.



Matthew da Silva

Anybody can join a standards committee. No one need be a member of ISA to do that, and about half of our Standards volunteers are in fact, not members of ISA.

Walt -- Is there an online location where members of the public can apply to join a standards creation organization? I recently sent an email on this subject but it was returned by the target company's server as unavailable.

Furthermore, why doesn't ISA make the standards creation process totally or at least largely online? I see no reason why this can't be so. By creating an online community (in the real sense of the word, not just a subscribed list) there are several advantages that ISA would reap:

1. Faster standards creation
Because people can leverage those snippets of time that are available here and there, from their own desks. Because they can do their thinking in familiar, everyday surroundings not cluttered by any factional or institutional ambience. because the motivation for participating is then purely professinal.

2. More updates and improvements
Because if it's all online and there are discussion forums that can be referenced by the 'authors' from time to time there will be more and better proofreading for mistakes of language and logic, etc.

3. More projects
Not only for standards, but also other types of projects could be handled such as the creation of XML schemas. If it's online, the overhead on
already-overcommitted individuals would be relaxed and new participants would take up the slack when needed.

I have worked in a global online community (ODP) such as this and I am confident that it would only add value. It is interesting to see how well
people work together and act appropriately so that the project evolves organically toward its goal.

If this were to be realized (*warning* heavy initial PERL writing overhead) I would suggest that the community be populated by people using aliases. The use of aliases helps to keep attention off personalities and on the facts. It also helps to maintain impartiality and is cement for the identity of the community.

Matthew Yamatake Toyko
Standards are fine.

The problem as I see it, is that developers are hard enough to come by without telling potential contributors they have to pony up some $$$ to get a copy of the "standards we are using" before they can play...

( "It's not a secret, but it will cost you to find out..." )

Maybe ISA would consider the project as a single entity and allow all the developers to share a single copy of the standards? Yeah, Right! ;-)

Another question:

What happens when ISA standards get quoted or paraphrased in the source code documentation? Is this legitimate?