With a PhD in modified PVC pipes and a career that spans over 40 years, Alan Whittle is more than qualified to help shape standards for the application of pipes. His work goes beyond simply creating a better, safer industry — it has helped to build secure amenities for whole communities.
Dr Whittle has been a member of the Standards Australia community since the 1970s. His role at the time, as technical manager at Olympic General Products, required him to get involved with standards development, specifically for mechanical rubber goods.
His core contributions began in 1982, when he started representing the plastics pipe industry via PIPA on relevant committees and he continued to do this for the ensuing 40 years.
Having completed a PhD in the field of modified PVC pipes for pressure applications, Dr Whittle played a crucial role in the development of the PVC-M product standard AS/NZS 4765, Modified PVC (PVC-M) Pipes for pressure applications, which was first published in 2000.
Dr Whittle’s focus during his contributory period with Standards Australia was seminally around the importance of having effective and rigorous standards for pipes and fittings. This, he believed, was rooted by the value they have for the industry and the broader community.
“Could you imagine what would happen to life in a major city if there was a catastrophic collapse of either water supply or sewerage? Another way to look at it is, in my lifetime, many water distribution networks were installed with asbestos cement pipes. Sewers pipes were predominantly vitrified clay. So, I’ve seen a substantial change in the materials that are used in both water reticulation and sewer applications and standards have played a significant role,” explained Dr Whittle
Dr Whittle advocates for the reliable performance of pipes for water, sewer, and fuel gas; this has a huge impact on not only the safety of the industry but the wellbeing of society as a whole — with their application being critical for the community’s health and amenity. Dr Whittle’s propensity to work on the formation of standards can be attributed to his own dedication for the greater good,
Dr Whittle explains that “through standards, we can set product requirements that give us a high level of assurance the products will have the required longevity and be safe. This is particularly significant in the case of drinking water pipes where health and organoleptic characteristics are critical.”
In 2021, Dr Whittle’s work was recognised with the Standards Awards W.R. Hebblewhite Medal — honouring his contribution and foresight in the field and recognising leadership, technical expertise, and the positive impact he has made on the industry and community.
“I was initially very surprised to receive the award. I am grateful to the people who nominated me and who recognised the contributions I’ve made. I certainly didn’t get involved in standards for the recognition, but I am honoured to receive the medal. The subject matter isn’t always exciting but the people I’ve worked with on the committees have made the experience enjoyable and I’ve appreciated the laughs along the way,” Dr Whittle said.
“Alan’s commitment not only to Standards Australia, but the wider benefit of Australian society shines through in his work. We are fortunate to have worked with him for decades and know that his impact will be felt for many generations to come,” said Adrian O’Connell, CEO of Standards Australia.