Standard is agreed rule which determines required characteristics of a particular product, process or service.
In a broad sense standard is a set of precise unambiguous definitions, technical requirements, measures, certain rules and other additional criteria which clearly and unequivocally prescribes the method of manufacturing, the usability and technical characteristics of materials, products, a variety of processes and services.
It is important to note that standards and their use are not obligatory! Despite its local, national or international character standards are not laws, and their use is based on free and voluntary consent.
Why do we need standards?
There is unimaginable variety of products around the world as well as different ways of manufacturing. In theory, they can all provide a quality product to the end use. However, besides his own experience there is no neutral set of factors to evaluate the safety, quality or value of what is bought. Standards are introduced in order to simplify and harmonize the evaluation process in acceptable and accessible way for everyone. Thanks to standards, today we can determine if a particular product or service is good or bad with a high degree of certainty, or whether its quality justifies the price.
In industry standards can be divided in three levels - the factory, national and international standards.
Factory standards were introduced for rationalization of operations and costs, and they used to be popular also because of the exclusivity of the product, and the availability of service and spare parts. The characteristics of factory standards - exclusivity, lack of transparency and the incompatibility, often caused resentment among final consumers.
National standards are the standards used in a whole country. They are introduced to enable easier collaboration between companies within the state. They are usually transparent and accessible to everyone, and also provide greater confidence in the quality of the products on the market.
International standards were created by agreement of several countries to introduce common standard that would meet the demands of manufacturers, retailers and consumers for transparently defined, better and safer products. Nowaday needs of international market simply requires all participants to stick to the required international standards and / or national standards.
Some national standards, such as the German, British and American crossed the borders of their countries and are internationally recognized as the proven quality standards of products and services.
In Croatia all significant standards are currently used: Croatian standard - HRN, International Standard - ISO, German standard - DIN, American standard - ANSI and British standard - BS. In the region of former Yugoslavia, the old Yugoslav standard JUS is still used, which is mainly transformed into national standards by national institutes for standardization, after the breakup of the state in the 90's.