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Searching for Industry Standards: Home

What Are Standards?

Industry standards are documents that provide for a consistent way of creating an end product or performing a particular task.  They attempt to capture and reflect best industry knowledge or best practices, and represent general agreement by experts in their fields.

Adherence to some standards is mandatory; for others it is voluntary.  Benefits from adhering to standards include increased customer confidence, compliance with government or industry mandates, and lower costs due to regularization of processes.

 For the purpose of this guide, we will include codes, specifications, and regulations in our discussion of finding standards, although these documents do have differences in focus and content, and definitions may vary across different industries.

How Do I Find Appropriate Standards?

The process of finding standards includes three basic tasks: Identify relevant standards, gain access to the desired standards, and seek to understand how their content impacts your product or process. Click on each item above or on the tabs at the top of the page to find helpful resources for each step.

Types of Standard Documents

Different types of documents can be found that are considered "standards." These may have different names within the various standards organizations but generally include:

  • Definitive Practices - these documents specify standard requirements for a product or a standardized way of performing various operations.  They may include:
    • Specifications (requirements for materials, products, etc)
    • Test methods (methods for obtaining specific test results)
    • Operational practice documents (methods for non-testing operations)
  • Definitions - these documents describe a standardized way of referring to items within the domain of the particular standard, including:
    • Terminology (definitions of terms used in domain language)
    • Classifications (organization of items according to selected group characteristics)
  • Recommended Practices - these documents capture industry best practices although they do not prescribe a specific method of performance.  These include:
    • Guides (information about a topic of domain interest)
    • Recommended Practice or Procedure Documents (may include calculations, measurements, etc)

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Standards Organizations

A large number of organizations are involved in developing, promoting, and maintaining standards (ANSI: List of Standards Developing Organizations lists several of these).  The majority of these are affiliated with professional organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI).  These organizations have a scope that is limited to their professional domains. Other organizations, like the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), have as their mission to publish and disseminate standards from many industries, and therefore have much broader scope. Some of these are attempting to create unified standards that are applicable across the world.