In 1998, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Standards Committee authorized a project to rewrite the Section VIII, Division 2 pressure vessel code. This decision was made shortly after the design margin on specified minimum tensile strength was lowered from 4.0 to 3.5 in Section I and Section VIII, Division 1. ASME saw the need to update Section VIII, Division 2 to incorporate the latest technologies and to be more competitive. In lieu of revising the existing standard, the decision was made to perform a clean sheet rewrite. By doing so it was felt that not only could the standard be modernized with regard to the latest technical advances in pressure vessel construction, but it could also be structured in a way to make it more user-friendly for both users and the committees that maintain it.
Much new ground was broken in the development of the new Section VIII, Division 2, including the process taken to write the new standard. Traditionally, development of new standards by ASME is carried out by volunteers who populate the different committees responsible for any given standard. Depending upon the complexity of the standard, the development of the first drafts can take upward to 15 years to complete based on past history. The prospect of taking 15 or more years to develop VIII-2 was unacceptable to ASME and the volunteer leadership. The decision was made to subcontract the development of the draft to the Pressure Vessel Research Council (PVRC), who in turn formed the Task Group on Continued Modernization of Codes to oversee the development of the new ASME Section VIII, Division 2 Code. PVRC utilized professionals with both engineering and technical writing expertise to develop new technology and the initial drafts of the new Section VIII, Division 2.
A Steering Committee made up of ASME Subcommittee VIII members was formed to provide technical oversight and direction to the development team with the goal of facilitating the eventual balloting and approval process. ASME also retained a Project Manager to manage all the activities required to bring this new standard to publication.