What is a standard? Why are standards important? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines standard as:
1) “a conspicuous object (as a banner) formerly carried at the top of a pole and used to mark a rallying point especially in battle or to serve as an emblem”
2) “something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example”
3) “something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality”
4) “the fineness and legally fixed weight of the metal used in coins”
5) “the basis of value in a monetary system”
6) “a structure built for or serving as a base or support”
From these definitions, it appears that one could conclude that a standard should have value; be established by general consent or by an organization; be a “yardstick” to measure quantity, quality, and value; and be a “base or support” upon which one can built procedures and policies.
Standards have been developed and are continually being developed to help provide uniform and consistent actions or results, improve safety, minimize legal action, and to improve efficiencies.
Standards are a vital part of our every day lives. Many of the benefits that we have gained as a result of standards often go unnoticed. We are usually unaware of the role of standards in raising quality levels, reliability, safety, interchangeability and efficiency. We often take for granted that a pipe fitting we purchased at one store will thread onto a pipe we purchased from a different store. We expect that a USB memory stick we “mail ordered” will plug into the new computer that we purchased at a local discount store. When things go well – when systems, machinery and devices work well and safely – it is because they conform to standards.
The gas industry has adopted standards for these same reasons. Without standards that set guidelines for meter tube dimensions, orifice plate thickness, BTU calculations, etc. each company may be tempted to use whatever methods might benefit their company the greatest. A different method might even be used for selling than might be used for buying. Standards help insure that all participants participate on the same level, use the same guidelines, and without unfair advantages.