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What is a Standard?

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.

Each standard is developed by a committee made up of people with technical, business, academic, government and community wisdom and expertise who come together to debate how a product or system should perform and how it should be made. They represent people such as manufacturers, sellers, buyers, customers, trade associations, users or regulators.

Standards are published documents setting out specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, reliable and consistently perform the way they were intended to. They establish a common language which defines quality and safety criteria.

These documents are practical and don't set impossible goals. They are constantly reviewed to ensure they keep pace with new technologies.

Standards cover a wide range of subjects from construction to nanotechnology, from energy management to health and safety from cricket balls to goalposts. They can be very specific, such as to a particular type of product, or general such as management practices.

The point of a Standard is to provide a reliable bases for people to share the same expectations about a product or service. This helps to:

  • Facilitate trade
  • Provide a framework for achieving economies, efficiencies and interoperability
  • Enhance consumer protection and confidence

Standards come in a range of guidance documents including:

  • Australian Standards
  • International Standards and joint standards
  • Codes
  • Specifications
  • Handbooks and
  • Guidelines

 Standards Australia History    

Originally called the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association,  Australia Standards have been established for 90yrs.  However  Standards  were used as far back as 7000yrs buy ancient civilisations such as the Babylonians and early Egyptian's. 

The earliest Standards were the  physical Standards  for weights and measures. They provided a single reference point against which all other weights and measures in that society could be  Standardised   

Written Documents or  written Standards  soon evolved which set down mutually agreed  Standards  for products and services such as Buildings, Ships, weapons and Agriculture, as trade and commerce developed. 

Standards  were initially a unique document and part of a single contract between purchaser and supplier. The concept of  common  Standards  evolved, where the same Standard could be used across a range of transactions. This portability, offering a uniform set of criteria, is the bases for modern day Standards. 

The early 19th Century brought us rapid industrialisation in the form of the Industrial Revolution. However huge inefficiencies  caused by lack of conformity and National Standardisation were beginning to become apparent. 

With Steam powering the technology of the late 19th century, fatalities and occupational injuries were common, high pressure steam boilers and vessels were fraught with danger.  The American Society of  Mechanical Engineers (ASME), one of the first voluntary standardising  bodies, was established in 1880  in responses to numerous boiler explosions and established the Boiler testing code of 1884

National Standards   

By the end of the 19th Century the value of standardisation in specifications, materials, testing and confirmation was recognised as a National priority. 

On January 22nd 1901 the same day that marks the end of Britain’s Victorian era  British Standards Institution (BSI)  along with the familiar  BSI Kitemark  was established.  BSI was the world’s first  National standard body  , one of the first Standards it went on to produced was to reduce the number of sizes of tramway rails. 

In 1918 the first  American National Standards  body was formed when five engineering societies one of which was the ASME and three government agencies founded the American Engineering Standards Committee which later became known as the  American National  Standards Institute (ANSI).   

In 1922 the  first Australian National Standards body was founded  called the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association which later became known as  Standards Australian.   

Australian Standards History in brief:   

1929  Renamed the  Standard Association of Australia (SAA)  to recognise wider role in society. 

1947  The International Organization of standardization (ISO)  is established with SAA as founding member. 

1950  SAA received a Royal charter to develop Standards in the national interest. 

1988  SSA drops 'Association' from name and becomes  Standards Australia  . Signs a memorandum of understanding with the  Federal Government which recognises Standards Australia as the peak non-government standards development organisation.   

1998  Standards Australia is  one of the first National Standards bodies to develop an internet delivery system  for its Standards and technical publications. 

1999  Standards Australia changes its name to  Standards Australia  International limited (SAI Limited)  and becomes incorporated as an Australian public company limited by guarantee. 

2003  Standards Australia sells its commercial businesses to SAI Global  Limited  and this company is floated on the Australian Stock Exchange. Initially it retained a 40 percent interest in SAI Global, but progressively sold down this share holding down to zero, enabling it to focus exclusively on its core business of developing and managing its collection of 7000 Australian Standards and representing Australia's interest in International Standardisation 

2010  Standards Australia becomes principal sponsor of the  Australian International Design Awards (AIDA).   

Standards  have now become such an integral component of our economic, social and legal systems with over  half million Standards  published Globally 


John Bedwell Obvius Access 2015



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