What Are ISO Standards?

Kate Onissiphorou

by Kate Onissiphorou

3rd August 2022

ISO standards are an internationally-recognised set of industry certifications that aim to standardise best practices and quality standards.

These standards were introduced because various industries in different countries have their own sets of best practices and quality standards, and some do not qualify for internationally recognized standards. The ISO standards try to remedy this problem.

Similar to the metric standard of measurement, the ISO international standards are international quality standards for various industries that are agreed upon by experts in those industries. They mainly focus on quality management standards with the objective of reducing product failures. They also help ensure that manufacturing processes and methods are as efficient as they can be.

Each industry has its own sets of ISO standards with corresponding codes. The codes facilitate indexing because of the numerous standards that are highly specific.

What are ISO standards & why are they important?

ISO standards are sets of standards that cover a wide range of industries, products, and practices. The standards correspond to high quality standards that are formulated and agreed upon by a body of experts in specific fields.

ISO is a global federation of national standard organisations from 167 member countries. Each member country is represented by the corresponding national standard body. For example, the United Kingdom is represented in the ISO by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

The various national standards organisations that are members of the ISO work together to develop and promote high quality standards on an international level. These standards are used in various industries and sectors, such as the science and technology sector including chemical manufacturing, the labour sector, business sector, academic sector, and even the government sector.

Interior of the ReAgent Chemicals manufacturing facility

ISO standards are very important in the chemical manufacturing industry

The ISO also awards certifications to government agencies in terms of efficiency, management, and fulfilment of their respective thrusts.

ISO standards help uplift the credibility and efficiency of the institutions, businesses, and agencies that the organisation certifies. International cooperation and trust are also reinforced in the process.

What does ISO stand for?

ISO is sometimes mistaken as an abbreviation for the International Organisation for Standardisation. However, if this were the case, the correct English abbreviation should be IOS – and the correct French abbreviation should be OIN for the French for ‘Organisation internationale de normalisation’. 

ISO is actually a word derived from the Greek ‘isos’, which means ‘equal’. It’s also the root for the prefix iso- used in many borrowed or adopted words in English, such as isosceles triangle, isotope, isometric, isonomy, and isomer.

The name ISO is chosen to avoid confusion and a wide variety of abbreviations in various languages. Hence, it is always ISO in whatever language and country.

Why do we need ISO standards?

Primarily, ISO standards facilitate the global standardisation of products, services, best practices, management, and certain industrial protocols. They are how the compatibility of a wide range of products, such as automobile parts, for example, can be ensured. In turn, this promotes global trade. 

At the same time, the standards help protect customers in terms of avoiding fake and substandard products. They also promote sustainable development by reducing waste in the manufacturing process.

The benefits of ISO standards for a business

Businesses that have ISO certifications have improved credibility, both locally and internationally. Concept illustration of ISO standards

ISO certification is a seal of quality that a company’s stakeholders, consumers, and business partners can trust. Some benefits of ISO standards for businesses include:

  1. Improved sales and profits – quality products translate to higher profit margin and customer patronage because of brand trust.
  2. More investors – if your company has a high level of brand trust and profitability, it should be much easier to attract investors.
  3. Better production efficiency – ISO standards encourage best practice, making businesses more efficient in production in terms of both quality and quantity.
  4. Minimise production downtime – following international standards means less downtime as production facilities, machinery, and equipment are up-to-date.
  5. Broaden your market coverage – even if your company targets a niche market, you can expand your business in other geographical areas as your products become internationally accepted.

What are the most popular ISO standards?     

Here are some of the most popular ISO standards because of the wide reach of their respective industries, which also have the largest impact in society. 

ISO 9001

This is a family of standards that pertains to quality management, and it’s the most popular category of ISO standards. ISO 9001 focuses on the importance of putting a quality management system in place in order to make an organisation or business produce high quality products and services. ISO 9001 word cloud

ISO/TS 16949

This set of standards is focused on the automotive industry. It includes technical specifications of automotive components and the standardisation of production.

ISO 17025

ISO 17025 applies to the testing of food and medicines. It guarantees the validity and reliability of test results based on clinical and technical methodologies and equipment.

ISO 13485

ISO 13485 does not belong to a family or category of standards. Rather, it only deals with medical devices and equipment. Hence, it is very specific to the health industry.

TL 9000

This is a set of standards that applies to the telecommunication sector. It includes various aspects of the sector such as hardware, software, and services.

How often ISO standards are updated

All ISO standards are open for review every five years. Although some of the industry standards do not radically change much, others need periodic and significant updates. 

For example, the software industry has rapid change that can occur in a matter of months or even weeks. Some of these changes are minor, but they can easily accumulate into major changes.

ReAgent’s ISO certifications

ReAgent currently holds four ISO accreditations: ISO 9001 for quality management, the ISO 14001 environmental certification, ISO 13485 for quality management systems relating to medical devices, and ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety.

ReAgent's ISO Accreditations

If you’d like any further information about our ISO certifications, please feel free to contact our friendly team.

Original post: What Are ISO Standards?. No Republication or Redistribution allowed without written consent. Contact ReAgent Chemical Services for more information.

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