Standardization: an economic challenge
Economic dynamics have always been driven by the will of cutting costs either by means of economies of scale yielded by mass production, or economies of scope related to a rationalization of production, or economies of network resulting from an increased number of companies adopting a given technology. Standards build a reference system allowing an objective evaluation of products or services.
A major issue for the whole community, it is a tool fostering dialogue between manufacturers, customers and other partners. These jointly define a common vocabulary, dimensions, characteristics, testing methods, various rules facilitating exchanges (like interchangeability of products) and a reduction in variety generating economies of scale.
Quality management systems in conformity with ISO 9001 have strengthened the use and control of standards in companies.
Standardization: a societal challenge
The major topics currently covered by standardization actually reflect the socioeconomic concerns, i.e. consumer security, accessibility to older persons and those with disabilities, safety.
Le consommateur a de fortes attentes concernant la performance, la sécurité, la qualité et la fiabilité des produits et services qu'il achète et utilise. Les normes accompagnent le développement et le commerce de produits et services répondant à ces objectifs.
Major issue of the accessibility has become more important with the increasing percentage of older persons in the world’s population and the high prevalence of disability or limitations in this demographic group. Standards provide tools for general use products but also for issues concerning buildings and information technologies.
The use of standards as support to regulations contributes to the improvement of product safety. European Commission extended this approach in the framework of New Approach, with the aim of facilitating the free movement of products in Europe and of avoiding barriers to trade, while maintaining the foreseen safety level. European Commission has enacted Directives defining objectives to be reached in terms of performances, harmful effects, safety through essential requirements (rules that must be observed in order to be authorised to sell), and leaves it to the economic partners to define the ways and means to reach these objectives using standards. Standardization activity in safety of machinery or pressure equipment is related to this approach.
Standardization: an environmental challenge
The public awareness of environnemental issues increased by the end of XXème century : To provide goods and services to allow the highest possible level of material comfort to the maximum of persons, while preserving limites ressources of the Earth and while protecting the global environment.
Initiatives are growing at national, european and international levels.
Mechanical industries, purchaser of most of the economical fields, are in the center of these activities. They implement clean processes for their own use and they develop innovations for all kind of industry, in terms of reduction of water and energy consumption, of reduction of pollutant emissions or of development of renewable energy.
Standardization contributes to this development by providing texts on environmental management, energy management, energy audits, environmental display, energy efficiency and eco-design.