Why use Standards?

"A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose." - ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 

Interoperability and Safety: At the turn of the 20th century, there were 600 different variations in fire hose couplings and hydrant outlets.  Read how the Great Fire of Baltimore led to the adoption of a national standard for fire hydrants.

Types of standards

  • Methods of manufacturing, designing, or drawing
  • Methods of testing, analyzing, appraising, verifying, or measuring 
  • Terms, abbreviations, symbols, marks, preferred numbers, or units 

Points to remember when using standards

  • Some standards are government-mandated, and others are voluntary.  There may be various penalties associated with not adhering to the standard. 
  • Standards are updated frequently to keep pace with changing technology - check to see if the standard you are using is the latest version. 
  • Older, superseded versions of standards may be useful in many cases, such as legal disputes concerning the performance of a product that was manufactured when the older standard was in force.  

Identifying Standards

Standards typically have the abbreviation of the organization that produced the standard, a report number, the year it was approved, and a title.

  • IEEE 1708-2014 - Wearable Cuffless Blood Pressure Measuring Devices
    • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is the organization
    • 1708 is the report number
    • 2014 is the year it was approved
    • Wearable Cuffless Blood Pressure Measuring Devices is the standard's title

Standards are created by a wide variety of organizations such as:

  • Professional societies (e.g. IEEE)
  • Industrial or manufacturing associations (e.g. American Wire Rope Manufacturers)
  • Governmental agencies e.g. U.S. Department of Commerce -  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or British Standards Institution (BSI)
  • Companies or non-profits e.g. American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  • International bodies, such as the ASTM International (formerly, American Society for Testing and Materials) or ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

Example standards

Learn more about standards