What is an ISO Standard?
Definition of a standard
The ISO/CEI 2: 1996 guide defines the standard as being a document developed by consensus and approved by a recognized entity, which ensures, for common and repeated use, a set of rules, guidelines or characteristics for either activities or their results, with the purpose of obtaining the optimum grade of order in a given context.
The content of a standard
The standards vary in subject, character or volume. These include several fields, starting with the technical, economical and social aspects of the human activity and closing with all basic fields such as language, mathematics, physics, etc.
- They are coherent and consequent: the standards are developed by technical committees, coordinated by a specialized entity and they ensure over passing the barriers between different fields of activity and different commercial policies;
- They are a result of a participative effort: they reflect the results of a common activity which involves all the competent parties and are validated by consensus in order to reflect all the relevant interests: manufacturers, users, laboratories, authorities, consumers, etc.
- They are active processes: the standards are based on real experience and lead to material results in real life practice (products – goods as well as services, trial methods, etc.); they establish a compromise between latest progress and nowadays economical constraints;
- They are constantly updated: the standards are revisited either on a timely basis or as per the circumstances dictate, in order to maintain their relevancy in time, and therefore, they evolve at the same time with the social and technological progress;
- They are considered to be references in commercial contracts and in court, in case of legal disputes;
- They are recognized nationally and internationally: the standards are documents acknowledged as valid at national, regional or international levels, as per the case;
- They are available for anyone: the standards can be consulted and purchased with no restriction.
As a general rule, the standards are not mandatory; they have voluntary applicability. In some cases, the implementation can be mandatory (such as in security related fields, electrical installation, public contracts).
The role of the standards
A standard represents a level of experience and technology that makes the presence of the industry indispensable for its elaboration. This is a reference document, used mainly within the context of public contracts or within international trade, on which most of the commercial contracts are based.
The standards are used by industries are indisputable reference which simplifies and clarifies the commercial relations between economical partners. The standards are documents used increasingly in jurisprudence.
For the economical factors, the standards are:
- A factor of rationalizing the production: the standard makes mastering of the technical characteristics possible, in order to satisfy the needs of the client, to validate the production methods, to increase productivity, offering a sense of security to operators and plumbers;
- A mean of clarifying transactions: when faced with an overcrowded goods and services offer, which in practice can have extremely different values, the existence of reference systems facilitate a better evaluation of the offer and reduced the uncertainties, optimizes the relationships with the suppliers, eliminate the need of some additional trials.
- A product innovation and development factor: taking part in the standardization activity enables anticipation and thus, ensures the simultaneously progress of the products. The standards have a favorable role in innovation, due to the knowledge transfer.
- A mean of transfer of new technologies: standardization facilitates and accelerates the transfer of technology in fields which are essential for both organizations and individuals (new materials, information systems, biotechnology, electronic products, computer integrated manufacturing, etc.).
- A criteria for the strategic selection of companies: participating in the standardization process means introducing solutions which are tailored to the competencies of an organization and equipping the company accordingly in order to compete in a competitive economic environment. This involves acting within the spirit of standardization, and not to bear the costs.
Types of standards
There are four main types of standards:
- Fundamental prescription standards, referring to terminology, metrology, conventions, sings and symbols;
- Standards for trial methods and for analysis, which measure characteristics;
- Standards who define the characteristics of a product (product standard) or a service specification (standards for service activities) and the performance thresholds to be met (adequate usage, interface and interchangeability, health, security, environment protection, standard contracts, documentation accompanying products and services, etc.).
- Organization standards referring to the description of the functions of a company and of the relations between these, as well as to the way the activities are structured (management of quality, maintenance, value analysis, logistics, project management or systems management, production management, etc.).