What is a standard?
A standard is established by consensus and provides rules, guidelines, or characteristics for activities or their results.
Why are standards important?
Behind the scenes, standards make everyday life work. They may establish size or shape or capacity of a product, process or system. They can specify performance of products or personnel. They also can define terms so that there is no misunderstanding among those using the standard. As examples, standards provide guidance for identifying corrosion and maintaining pipelines and storage tanks to avoid leaks that can be hazardous to people and damage the environment; bridges to avoid failures, thereby, protecting people and the infrastructure; ship hulls to avoid environmental contamination issues throughout the world, etc.
In the U.S. alone, there are more than 100,000 standards at work across all industry sectors. These include:
- Product-Based Standards (examples: car airbags, washing machines, banking cards)
- Performance-Based Standards (examples: toy safety, greenhouse gas emissions, food safety)
- Management System Standards (examples: ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 Quality and Environmental Management Systems)
- Personnel Certification Standards (examples: cyber-risk technicians, food handlers, crane operators)
- Construction Standards for buildings and systems in the built environment (examples: building, electrical, and plumbing codes
NACE Standards are useful for many purposes including:
- Providing best practices for corrosion mitigation across industries
- Providing a basis for common training and certification
- Offering early access to latest measurement and testing technologies related to coatings
- Identifying corrosion early on or inside of oil and gas pipelines helps protect people and the environment
- Extending the life expectancy of storage tanks, metal structures, railway tank cars, etc.
- Saving money on maintenance of metal structures, infrastructures, etc.
Who creates standards?
In the United States, any entity or individual can participate in standards development activities. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you’re interested in working on, and then finding the standards development organizations that are currently working in that area. The U.S. market-driven, sector-based approach to standards development offers flexibility, efficiency, and a responsiveness that is unparalleled in most other nations.
Lots of companies, organizations, trade associations, consumer groups, and government agencies are already developing standards. And by being an active part of the process, these groups are gaining a tangible competitive advantage over their competitors. For example, they are:
- Gaining insider knowledge and early access to information
- Exerting influence on technical content
- Developing new markets for products, services, and technologies, and keeping market access doors open
Hundreds of standards developing organizations (SDOs) and consortia are engaged in the creation and maintenance of standards used in virtually every industry sector. These SDOs — and the experts who populate their committees — work to enhance quality of life and improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses operating in the global marketplace.
At NACE International approximately 10% of the membership is writing and updating about 250 new and existing standards and reports throughout the year with in-person task group meetings held at annual events like CORROSION 2019 held in the spring and Corrosion Technology Week (CTW) held in the fall. NACE international has more than 250 standards and reports covering every major industry from infrastructure and transportation, to oil and gas, mining, and maritime.
What is conformity assessment?
Conformity assessment is defined as any activity concerned with determining directly or indirectly that relevant requirements are fulfilled. Sometimes, conformity assessment is referred to as conformance or compliance.
While a standard is a technical expression of how to make a product safe, efficient, and compatible with others, a standard alone cannot guarantee performance. Conformity assessment, however, provides assurance to consumers by increasing consumer confidence when personnel, products, systems, processes or services are evaluated against the requirements of a voluntary standard.
How is compliance with standards verified?
Conformity assessment is a vital link between standards that define product characteristics and the products themselves. It can verify whether a particular product meets a given level of quality or safety. And it can provide information about the product’s characteristics, the consistency of those characteristics, and the performance of the product.
Product problems (such as the 2007 toy recalls) are frequently not due to inadequacy of the standard, but rather conformance to the standard. Testing, inspection, and auditing of products and management systems is as important as the standard in ensuring that products and systems are safe and perform as expected.
The task of assessing compliance to a standard may fall to a manufacturer, to an independent third party like an auditor or testing lab, or to a public official like a building code inspector.On almost any given day, a standards group or technical committee is meeting and making decisions that could affect your bottom line.
*Content on this page has been used with permission from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).