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As ANSI Turns 100, Reimagining Standards Development for a Strong Future


In recognition of its 100th anniversary, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is publishing a series of guest editorials from ANSI members and other standardization community leaders highlighting trends and advancements in the standards and conformity assessment system through 2018 and beyond. Interested in contributing? Please contact [email protected].

Guest editorial by Kevin J. Cosgriff, NEMA President and CEO*

The world runs on the safe, reliable, and efficient products manufactured by the electroindustry. Since quickly developed and regularly updated standards play a central role in maintaining that sense of security, ANSI's 100-year anniversary is a good time to reflect on its role in bringing products to market in a future increasingly driven by digitization and connectivity.

An entirely new suite of offerings under development and testing heralds extraordinary opportunities, but one important area remains largely unchanged: standards development. While many leading companies have embraced a digital design process, the standards process in many cases has not been an early adopter. Standards need to come to market more quickly, better matching the pace of business and product development. This will become increasingly important as ANSI and NEMA standards efforts expand more into systems that include not only hardware, but software, networking, and communications as well.

Reimagining the standards development process in the digital age has three key benefits:

1. Faster development: With cloud computing and online workspaces, multiple experts can propose, modify, and agree on improvements nearly simultaneously.

2. Faster publication times: Digitally formatted standards that are issued electronically can help market drivers employ them immediately.

3. Faster and more frequent updates. Because things change quickly as experts find and implement best practices, standards must keep pace to remain relevant.

A process of embracing these attributes will help manufacturers and users alike. And we know it is doable. Wired and wireless communication protocols evolve quickly with high levels of success. We can develop and implement our version of these protocols for the electroindustry so that our standards are integrated with a market that depends on safety, reliability, and efficiency in all electrical products and systems.

A significant byproduct of reimagining the standards development process is the area of regulation. When industry standards are delayed, regulators often develop their ownand corresponding test proceduresthat do not take into account the latest advancements in research and engineering. Experience has taught us that this can result in industry mandates that add cost but little benefit. A dynamic standards process also enables regulators to maintain a level playing field and more effectively police counterfeit and noncompliant products in the market.

With nearly 700 published standards, and hundreds more that NEMA helps ANSI and other standards developing organizations (SDOs) develop each year, we understand the importance of rethinking this process. We know there will be challenges along the waythere always are. But meeting the future by embracing change outweighs the short-term discomfort of learning new ways to achieve good outcomes.

About NEMA

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) represents nearly 350 electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers that make safe, reliable, and efficient products and systems. Its combined industries account for 360,000 American jobs in more than 7,000 facilities covering every state. Its industry produces $106 billion shipments of electrical equipment and medical imaging technologies per year with $36 billion exports.

Kevin J. Cosgriff has been NEMA's president and chief executive officer since 2014. NEMA is an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer.

*This is a guest editorial contributed by an outside source and may not reflect the views of ANSI.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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