Specifications and Standards (IHS Engineering Workbench)

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This tutorial will cover how to

  • Find the Specifications and Standards Database
  • Perform a basic search

Let's get started!

To move forward or back, simply click the arrows at the bottom of this column.

First, what are standards?

Standards, often referred to as "technical standards," "industry standards," or "engineering standards," are documents that communicate agreement. The agreement conveyed may relate to a variety of topics, such as consistent methods, designs, processes, procedures, or use of language. These documents are created by professional organizations who want to ensure quality of technology and procedures. A couple of these organizations include ASTM International and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

So what can the Specifications and Standards (IHS Engineering Workbench) database provide for us?

Available to Purdue users, this database is a collection of national & international standards available online with downloadable, full-text PDFs. Purdue has access to many but not all standards in the database. If an online standard is unavailable, check out our other standards databases or our Print Standards Database.

To begin, we’ll start here, at the Purdue University Libraries' homepage.

Underneath the search bar are options to browse catalogs, databases, or online journals.

Click on "Databases”


As you can see, as a member of the Purdue University community you have access to hundreds of databases!

To limit our search results based on our area of interest, in the category drop-down menu, click on the "All Subjects" button and select "Engineering & Technology".

Select Engineering and Technology in Database All Subject drop-down

To filter our search results a little bit further, we can decide on any number of subcategories that best fits what we're looking for.

Thankfully, the database we're looking for is in the Best Bets list!

Scroll down the list and click "Specifications and Standards".

Select Specifications and Standards from the Best Bet list highlighted in yellow

From here you will be directed to login with your Purdue user information.

  • Important Note: Purdue University is a subscriber to this database, which only allows a limited number of simultaneous users. If you are denied access, wait a few minutes and try again.
  • If you continue to have login issues after a few separate attempts please visit the Reference Desk for the Library of Engineering and Science located on the second floor of the Wilmeth Active Learning Center or contact us at engsclib@purdue.edu or (765)-494-0831, as there may be a problem with our access.

After you have logged in with your career account, you will need to create an account within IHS.

To register, click on the "Register" button on the right side of the screen.

Click on Register to register for an account through IHS.

Fill out the necessary information to create an account, and then click "Submit".

Fill out the boxes with your information & click submit to create an account

If you already have an account, go ahead and login with your information, then click the arrow below in the tutorial to move on.

Once you are logged in, click the "IHS Engineering Workbench" link.

Click the IHS Engineering Workbench link to access the database 

This database allows us to search and access thousands of issued standards by entering the document number, issuing organization, or keywords and text within the corresponding boxes.

Before we start our search, let's explore the many query options within this database.

  • Having a variety of query options will make our search more efficient.
Directly under the search box, click the "Advanced Query Tools".
Click on Advanced Query Tools to see more query options

Our first set of query options directly underneath the search bar let you limit your search to the following fields.

  • "Titles" only searches for search terms in the title of the standard.
  • "Abstracts" searches the abstracts of the standards for your search terms.
  • "Organization & Publisher" will help you narrow down the search to the organization that published the standard.
  • "Document Language" clearly narrows down your search by the language the document was written in.
  • "All Document Text" will search the full text of the standard for your terms.  This is most useful if you are looking for a very specific material or process that might be one small piece of a more general standard.
  • "Standard Classes" can help you narrow down to specific area standards cover.
  • & of course "Keywords" searches by key terms defined by the author.
  • As well as many, many others

List of search query options

Now that we have covered the different query options, we can finally start our search.

  • For this example, we will be searching standards issued by the ASME, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
    • More information about other major issuing organizations can be found through our guide to Standards Organizations.

In the second box in the first set of query boxes, select "Organization & Publisher".

Next, type in ASME into the box that says "Enter publisher" to search for documents by this organization.

To make sure our results come up with documents we actually have access to, go ahead and check the "Search My Subscriptions only" option at the top of the window.

Lastly, click the green magnifying class button at the top!

Check the "search My Subscriptions only" box & type ASME in the second search box.

As you can see, there are hundreds of standards issued by ASME that are available within our selected search queries.

Our results are displayed alphanumerically by document number. Within this list we can view:

  • the title of the document
  • the status of the document
  • the date it was published
  • the publisher
To the left of the screen, you will notice additional limiters for results, such as Content Classes and Document Status, which are also very helpful!

Let’s take a better look at our result, “ASME A17.1 HDBK Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators”

Click the document number or title to access the document.

Important Note: This will open a new tab in your window. Be sure to navigate back to this tutorial to move on.

Select the standard with the document number "ASME A17.1 HDBK" titled "Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators"

As you can see in looking at the document, there is a table of contents on the left side of the screen, which is a great way to navigate lengthy documents.

Locate the Table of Contents drop-down on the left side of the screen.

If you click on "SCOPE" under the table of contents, the document will navigate to the scope section.

This section, sometimes referred to as the abstract, gives a brief overview of what the standard is about and clarifies its applicability.

Navigate to the scope section within the Table of Contents to view the Scope of the document

If you notice on the right side of the screen, three little blue icons.

  • The ribbon icon, will allow you to bookmark this document.
  • The eye icon will allow you to add it to a watch list.
  • The arrow icon will allow you to download this document as a pdf.
Three icons on the right side of the screen
At the top of the page, there is a row of tabs, click "Summary", the second tab.
The summary view provides metadata, or descriptive information, about the standard whereas the document view provided you with the actual document itself.
Summary tab view
Click the third tab, titled "Document History".
Here we are able to view the current and last status for this document.

For example, we see that this document has been revised. The oldest version of the document will appear last.

  • By looking under the date column, we see that it was published in 1981 and was revised several times. It has remained active since 2013.
Document History view
Click on the document number at the bottom of list, the original publication of the standard.
Important Note: This open a new tab in your window. Be sure to navigate back to this tutorial to move on.
As you can see with this example, we do not have access to this version of the document in this specific database.

Even though Purdue does not currently have access to this version of the standard, you have a couple of options to consider.

Need help with these options? Contact the Library of Engineering and Science by phone (765)-494-0831 or by email: engsclib@purdue.edu

Now you know how to perform a basic search using the IHS Engineering Workbench; Specifications and Standards Database.

If you would like more training on Engineering Workbench, you can visit here: https://www.ihs.com/Info/engineering-workbench-resource-center/training.html 

If you can't find a standard online or in print through our Database of Print Standards, please visit us at the Reference Desk in the Library of Engineering & Science located in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center or contact us at engsclib@purdue.edu or (765) 494-0831. We will be happy to assist you in locating the information you need.

Thank you for using this tutorial.