design standards[di′zīn ‚stan·dərdz]
Specifications of materials, physical measurements, processes, performance of products, and characteristics of services rendered. Design standards may be established by individual manufacturers, trade associations, and national or international standards organizations. The general purpose is to realize operational and manufacturing economies, to increase the interchangeability of products, and to promote uniformity of definitions of product characteristics.
Individual firms often maintain extensive and detailed standards of parts that are available for use in their product designs. Usually the standards have the effect of restricting the variety of parts to certain sizes and materials. In this way the production lots required for inventory purposes are increased, and production economies may thereby be realized through the wider use of mass production. However, even if the larger quantities needed of the relatively few sizes do not in themselves lead to a cheaper manufacturing process, the costs of carrying inventory and setting up for production runs are reduced. A further development of this design approach may lead to the modulization of the entire product line, by reducing it to certain major subassemblies that are common to as many products as possible. Special jobs then typically require only a few added features, and cost savings may be realized.
A possible disadvantage is that the extensive use of generalpurpose parts may jeopardize the space parts business, especially where outside manufacturers can skim off the market for the more commonly used and profitable spare parts once the original patents, if any, have expired, and then leave the more complex and slow-moving spares to the original manufacturer. However, it is precisely this aspect of standardization which is often welcomed by the users of the product.
Standardization also determines the nature of design practice. Especially when the specifications also give data on strength and performance as well as the usual dimensions, it is only necessary to compute loads approximately and then select the nearest standard sizes. Much design effort is thereby saved, especially on detail drawings, bills of material, and so forth. This approach also simplifies programming when computer-aided design is used. See Computer-aided design and manufacturing
Trade associations are the principal sources of American industrial standards. These involve standardization over an entire product line. In general, their scope is considerably less than that within firms with extensive standardization programs, but the technical and policy considerations in the two levels of standardization are quite similar. Trade standards are primarily concerned with specifying overall dimensions, so that products of different manufacturers may be used interchangeably; with performance, so that customers know what they are buying; and with certain design features, such as major materials, in order to assure proper function. In some cases, dimensional standards particularly must be related to standards in other industries; for instance, an American butter dish must accommodate the standard 4-oz (113.6-g) sticks in which butter is packed. Like national standards to which they are closely related, trade association standards should be established on the basis of as broad a consensus as possible within the industry. If standards were established such that any required burden of retooling and product change would fall in a discriminatory fashion upon only certain members of the industry, legal remedy would certainly be sought under the American antitrust laws.
The principal industrial countries have official agencies that approve, consolidate, and in some cases establish standards. Among them are the British Standards Institution (BSS), German Institute for Norms (DIN), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI, formerly ASA). The national standardization agencies are members of a wide variety of international groupings and United Nations agencies. The principal ones are the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). These attempt to coordinate national activities and promote cooperation in the area of standardization. Several of the more than 50 organizations deal with weights and measures; others engage in transnational or international activities in the standardization of many products or cover specific regional issues and requirements. Some, like the European Economic Community (EEC), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), or the administration of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) mainly have other political, economic, and scientific concerns but must necessarily take note of standardization as part of their work. See Engineering design