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Standards Enable an Interconnected World in Modern Manufacturing

In an era of unprecedented technological growth, standardization efforts must evolve to keep pace with industries facing the greatest upsurge of innovative changes, including manufacturing. This year, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) celebrates 100 years of leading the collaborative U.S. standardization system. While ANSI’s impact on manufacturing traces back to its first standard for screw threads on pipes and the first American Standard Safety Code that protected the heads and eyes of industrial workers, its impact extends to the next wave of systems and products that fuel the nation’s competitiveness and overall economy.


ANSI’s Legacy and Influence on Industry

A group of visionaries made up of five engineering societies and three government agencies formed the American Engineering Standards Committee in 1918, marking the official founding of the organization that would become ANSI. Over the past century, standards have served as the foundation of safety at work and home, and as a gateway to innovation. Today, the Institute represents and serves the diverse interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations and 30 million professionals worldwide.

“Standards touch essentially every product or device we use in daily life,” says Paul Moliski, vice president of accreditation and Latin America electrical and network assurance at Intertek, an ANSI member. “From basic appliances, such as a coffee maker, to extremely complicated surgical devices that require secure wireless connections to integrate interoperability for lifesaving procedures, to the most recent advances in drone technologies, ANSI coordinates the participation of standards bodies originating in the U.S., and in some cases globally, for the development of these standards to create an open and transparent environment for standards development.”

To that end, Mr. Moliski notes that the development of standards is taking place faster than any time in our history, as it is fueled by growth in new initiatives in areas such as 3D printing, wireless technology, autonomous vehicles and battery technology – growth that in some cases is taking place faster than we can track.

“Advancement in manufacturing technologies is no different,” he explains. “The use of virtual reality technologies and 3D printing in manufacturing is accelerating the development of the manufacturing process and protecting people who work in hazardous environments.”

A recent Deloitte study, entitled “Exponential technologies in manufacturing: Transforming the future of manufacturing through technology, talent, and the innovation system,” reflects how the manufacturing industry is being revolutionized by sweeping innovative changes. The report highlights how globally, we’re undergoing another industrial revolution, fueled by “smart, intelligent automation and marked by an unprecedented, exponential pace of change.” The research also highlights how innovation enabled by exponential technologies can help manufacturers expand.1

As studies echo transformative industry development and the fast-paced speed of innovative growth, it’s clear that safety and a baseline language and infrastructure for interconnectivity are critical. Voluntary standards and conformity assessment are at the forefront to support industry transformation, enabling innovators to build on established technologies and deploy cutting-edge advancements with safety, interoperability, efficiency, and reliability.


Standardization Efforts Bolster American Innovation

One action which bolsters standardization efforts is the American Innovation Competitiveness Act, signed into law in early 2017. Under the act, Dr. Walter Copan, Under Secretary of Commerce of Technology and Director of the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), serves as the president’s principal advisor on standards policy as it pertains to the country’s technological competitiveness and innovation ability. Dr. Copan, who testified in front of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee of the U.S. Senate earlier this year, noted that NIST’s current priorities include manufacturing, and emphasized that the manufacturing sector will continue to be a driving force of innovation and productivity for the U.S. economy.2

Furthering the message on how standards help boost industries including manufacturing, ANSI president and CEO S. Joe Bhatia, together with Dr. Copan recently shared how ANSI and NIST are collaborating with industry to further drive innovation through a May 2018 executive stakeholder event hosted by ANSI in Washington, DC. The forum, which included corporate leaders that represented a range of sectors including electrical power, heavy equipment, advanced manufacturing, glass/optical, IT, and software and services, was focused on the ways in which strategic reliance on standards, and participation in standards and conformity assessment activities can help U.S. companies thrive. Discussions were specifically focused on how standards can open up markets and drive innovation, and, ultimately, underpin greater products.

At the event, Mr. Bhatia noted how he met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in 2017 to discuss the importance of standards to U.S. innovation and overall competitiveness. “We talked about ANSI’s role in getting the message out to stakeholders in the public and private sectors on the benefits of a market-driven standardization system, and the importance of U.S. leadership in global forums, and stressed the importance of the U.S. standardization system’s reliance on shared expertise and collaboration across multiple paths of effective standards development,” Mr. Bhatia said. He added the critical role standards play in the economy, impacting 93% of global exports, enabling market access, innovation and efficiency on the company, industry and national levels.

“But we also discussed our concern over what we view as an underinvestment in standards across many companies and industry sectors,” he said. “We need to encourage more corporate leaders to invest and participate in standardization activities – not just for the sake of U.S. competitiveness globally, but also for their own long-term strategic success.”


Insights from ANSI Members on 21st Century Innovation and Standardization

In a recent interview to reflect on ANSI’s anniversary, Don Wright, president of the IEEE Standards Association (IEE-SA), member of the Board of Directors of the IEEE, and president of ANSI member Standards Strategies, said he sees standardization as a way to provide a baseline set of functionality and interoperability that enables developers and manufacturers to innovate in a variety of ways, while still preserving the consumer’s ability to use products from a variety of suppliers.

“As one of the founding organizations of ANSI, the IEEE recognized early on the need to provide a means for broad stakeholder engagement, collaboration and input in the global standardization process,” he said. “Over the past 100 years, that longstanding collaborative effort on standards development continues to achieve marked improvements in manufacturing processes—helping to streamline productivity, improve interoperability, lower costs, and more quickly respond to industry needs.”

The president of another ANSI member, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), added that standardization involvement is increasingly important to support the safety and infrastructure of systems. James Pauley, who served as chair of the board at ANSI, transitioned from a 30-year career in the electrical and energy industry, where he served as senior vice president of external affairs and government relations for Schneider Electric, to lead NFPA.

“Standardization [as we know it] supports electrical products that have radically changed the market nationwide,” said Mr. Pauley. He explained that as innovation is rising, it drives the need for standardization. “Nanotechnology is already an area that has allowed great innovation across a number of areas, including medicine, electronics, solar cells, and fuel cells,” he said. “What is critical is the need for standardization around the terminology and safety considerations to ensure that the various innovators have a baseline understanding of the expectations from manufacturers, users, consumers, and others.” 

As disruptive changes such as nanotechnology continue to fuel scientific advancements, standards and conformance drive efforts in nanotechnology research, development, and applications, which range from nanotubes used for television screens to nanostructured materials for engine parts. ANSI’s Nanotechnology Standards Panel (ANSI-NSP) supports standardization work that drives the development of such innovation. The ANSI-NSP serves as the cross-sector coordinating body to facilitate the development of standards in areas of nanotechnology including nomenclature and terminology; health, safety, and environmental aspects; materials properties; and testing, measurement, and characterization procedures. ANSI is also proud to lead the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 229 focused on nanotechnologies. ANSI is the U.S. member to ISO.


As Innovation Surges, Standardization Participation Is Critical

Especially during such a transformative time, more participation in standardization activities is essential. Mr. Pauley emphasized that standardization leaders and industry alike can find out how to get involved through the Standards Boost Business (SBB) campaign, established in 2010 by ANSI and a group of 30 partnering organizations from the standardization community.

Standards Boost Business3 is intended to inform and educate C-suite executives and senior public policy officials about the ways that standards and conformity assessment activities boost business performance and innovation, lower costs, and help U.S. industry to be more competitive in the global marketplace. It helps industry navigate the standardization system and provide a better understanding of how standards establish a baseline for design and performance that will satisfy user requirements and promote further innovation.

“I think ANSI is always looking for ways to listen to it members and creating innovative solutions to collaborate and lead the U.S standardization system,” said Mr. Moliski, who is on the ANSI Board of Directors and has participated on various ANSI committees for over 20 years.

“At Intertek, we are striving for operational excellence in all phases of our business so that we deliver the very best service to our customers,” he said “This includes using internal standards and performance metrics to track project turnaround time, promised completion dates, and of course customer satisfaction. It is our mission to add value to our customers’ experience through our commitment to finding innovative solutions for global market access which includes collaboration in standards development.”


Happy 100th Birthday, ANSI

In light of its centennial, ANSI is hosting a number of special events and activities in 2018. The Institute will serve as the 2018 administrating organization for the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day on October 18, in partnership with co-chair NIST and the larger U.S. event committee.

The U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day theme will celebrate standardization’s vital role in achieving an “Innovation Nation.” The event will include the presentation of the 2018 Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership Award, which is named after the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce and honors an individual who has effectively promoted standardization as a key tool in the elimination of global trade barriers.

ANSI will also host World Standards Week, the standardization community’s premier annual gathering, with multiple conferences, committee meetings, and special events designed to inspire open dialogue about standardization and conformity assessment on October 15-19 in Washington, DC. Registration is now open at www.ansi.org/wsweek.

As part of its centennial celebration, the Institute has released an array of multimedia resources that illustrate standardization’s dynamic role in fostering progress, safety, and innovation in the United States and beyond. The Institute’s commemorative webpage, www.ansi.org/100, features historical content, event information, and a growing set of interactive tools and videos detailing how ANSI and its members, partners, and stakeholders have evolved to meet the needs of U.S. industry, government, and citizens over ten decades.

“For a century, ANSI has played an integral part in supporting America’s growth and safety, and continues to improve the quality of life for millions,” said S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO. “I’m honored to take part in this legacy, as ANSI, its staff, and our highly collaborative standardization community continue to lead exciting efforts that lay the foundation for innovative breakthroughs for generations to come.”

Endnotes

  1. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/manufacturing/articles/advanced-manufacturing-technologies-report.html
  2. https://www.nist.gov/speech-testimony/one-year-later-american-innovation-and-competitiveness-act
  3. http://www.standardsboostbusiness.org