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What Is A Standard?

Here are a number of definitions of a standard from major Standards Developing Organisations:

  • ISO (International Organization for Standardization): "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."
  • SCC (Standards Council of Canada): "A standard is a document that provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results. Most standards aim to achieve an optimum degree of order in a given context. Standards are guidelines that establish accepted practices, technical requirements, and terminologies for diverse fields. 
  • BSI (British Standards Institution): "In essence, a standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers." 

"A Standard establishes agreed parameters for design, capacity, or property characteristics which permit interchangability of parts or materials. Examples are threaded bolts, what constitutes a litre of gasoline or milk, electrical cable capacity, light bulb design and wattage, and steel composition or mechanical properties. A Standard may also set qualifying conditions for performance or certification, for example, SAE J3040, "Electric Vehicle (E-Vehicle) Crash Test Lab Safety Guidelines" or CSA W47, "Certification of companies for fusion welding of steel"." - adapted from a definition by Dr B Patchett, Professor Emeritus, former NOVA Professor of Welding Engineering, University of Alberta.

Primer on Engineering Standards