The use of standards is increasingly becoming a prerequisite to worldwide trade. A very large percentage of export is influenced by the European and international standards business. For instance all European Union standards are automatically adopted as British Standards.
Although standards are designed for voluntary use and do not impose any regulations, by law many industry bodies and trade associations require products (e.g. motorcycle helmets) to conform to a British Standard or a European Directive before they can be offered for sale in the UK or EU. This is to ensure that countries and companies can compete on equal terms.
Standards are also used as flexible alternative to regulation.
In fast-moving industries and sectors, standards can also offer huge savings in Research and Development costs. Where common platforms for technological advances are established, tested and shared with all interested parties this can ensure commercial viability and consumer confidence.
Standards are essential to trade in increasingly competitive markets. They ensure any business offering products, services or processes is:
- cost-effective and time efficient
- commercially viable
They can also make significant impact on society at large. For example, as purchasers or users of products we would soon notice if they turned out to be of poor quality, do not fit, are incompatible with equipment we already have, are unreliable or dangerous. We are usually unaware of the role played by standards in raising levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability - as well as in providing such benefits at an economical cost.
Above all, any business, large or small, can benefit from the conformity and integrity that standards will bring. Through the development and adoption of best practice guidelines companies and organizations can make sure they are meeting consumer concerns and keeping up with best practice.