About Standardisation

Some dictionaries define “Standardisation” as the successful implementation of standards. Indeed, once a standard has been developed it must be applied and it must be applied across individual businesses in the same, or in a standard way.

Standards contain specifications for a product agreed to by a wide range of participants. Specifications vary widely across product types with some examples being, strength, purity, temperature resistance, tolerance, etc. Participants include product technical specialists, health and safety regulators, consumer groups and others that agree on the specifications that are important for a product. The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) describes the process well:

“An ISO standard is developed by a panel of experts, within a technical committee. Once the need for a standard has been established, these experts meet to discuss and negotiate a draft standard. As soon as a draft has been developed it is shared with ISO’s members who are asked to comment and vote on it. If a consensus is reached the draft becomes an ISO standard, if not it goes back to the technical committee for further edits.”

And so a standard is created. Once created however it must be implemented. How does one know that company "A" has implemented it correctly and in the same way as company "B"? This is where accredited laboratories and certification bodies enter the picture. Businesses provide samples of their products to laboratories which conduct testing and measure the product’s characteristics to the specifications in the standard. Certification bodies then take all this data along with other information required by the standard and confirm, or not, that the product conforms to the standard. Conformance means a certification is issued and thus the process of Standardisation is completed.

The difference between product standards and management standards such as ISO 9001

There are various types of standards, some are known as product standards and some are known as management system standards.

Product standards are made specifically to apply to products be they agricultural, electrical products, building components, vehicle components, consumer goods and so on. These standards set measurable baseline characteristics for the object; characteristics that instil in the product a certain level of quality or safety. Examples of these characteristics include such things as durability, purity, melting points, size, thickness, colour and so on.

A system standard such as ISO 9001, quality management systems, does not instil specific characteristics into your product. These standards govern your growing, manufacturing or distribution processes and help you to produce and manage your activities with greater consistency and control. This in-turn leads to an operation that runs more smoothly, results in fewer random production errors and therefore less wasted product and more satisfied customers.

The system standard in combination with the product standard will result in a production process that meets the product safety and quality requirements in a consistent and controlled way. Almost all buyers or importers will expect conformance to a product standard, the system standard will assist you to produce to your buyers’ requirements in a reliable and steady manner.

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