Flexible Thinking: Standards—An Industrial-strength Glue

Reading time ( words)

Standards are frequently viewed as cumbersome nuisances and impediments to progress by those pressing for rapid change. The process of writing, getting approval, and promulgating standards can be arduous and frustrating. It has a lot of similarities to the creation and passage of laws in various government bodies in that there are many opinions and interested parties who engage in the process to make sure that it results in a product that does not damage or favor one solution or party over another.

People involved in the generation and passage of legislation have equated it to sausage making. As you can imagine, it’s not a very pretty process; however, when done right, can result in a palatable product that presumably can be enjoyed by the greatest number of consumers. You would think that at some point, there would be enough laws. Yet with the changing dynamics of society, there is a near-constant flow of new laws to address our changing needs, and that is no less true for standards for our industry as technology evolves and changes.

And just as there are many government bodies around the globe, there are hundreds of standards bodies around the world with sometimes conflicting missions in terms of the generation and guidance in the enforcement of industrial standards. In this regard, just as laws help to hold societies together, standards serve the vital purpose of holding industries together. They are an industrial-strength glue (if you can tolerate a little tongue-in-cheek metaphor) in that they hold the industry together.

Four Types of Standards

In the world of electronics manufacturing, there is a myriad of standards, covering virtually every aspect of the ubiquitous products our industry makes. These standards cover everything from raw materials to production processes and the inspection and test of the numerous discrete and individual products that make up the final product acquired by the consumer or user. Standards come in a number of forms, and here are the four main types.

1. De Jure Standards

You are probably the most familiar with de jure standards, which are standards according to an agreed-upon process. This is often by a committee that is endorsed by a formal standards organization, such as IPC, IEEE, IEC, JEDEC, UL, or JEITA. Each organization ratifies its standards through its own official procedures and gives the standard its stamp of approval.

2. De Facto Standards

De facto standards have come to exist based on commonly accepted practices and have been adopted widely by an industry and its customers much like common law. De facto standards are created when a critical mass likes them well enough to collectively use them. They are often codified and turned into de jure standards by standards bodies when the value is seen or finally recognized (something arguably still in the works for concepts like the Occam process and SAFE technology. Emerging markets often evolve using de facto standards in the early stages because normal standards organizations are wedded to incumbent markets and technologies and typically focus only on the here and now.

To read this entire column, which appeared in the September 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.



Suggested Items

Dana Korf: What Fabricators Expect From Designers

06/18/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties spoke with Dana Korf, former chief PCB technologist for Huawei and currently principal consultant of Korf Consultancy, about the breakdown in communication between manufacturers and designers. Dana discusses exactly what a fabricator expects from a PCB designer, why these expectations are often not met, and the need for designers to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.

DownStream Technologies Update With Joe Clark

06/17/2020 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
On June 15, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, about the company’s drive to take care of its customers and employees throughout the pandemic and beyond. As the U.S. slowly starts reopening, Joe discusses some of his customers’ current challenges, especially those working from home for the first time, and how DownStream’s forecast has helped the company prepare for the uncertainties in the industry right now.

Meet Patrick Crawford, I-Connect007 Columnist

05/13/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Meet Patrick Crawford, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! Patrick’s columns will provide updates on IPC Design activities. He is currently the liaison to the Design Community Leadership, the industry leadership group of IPC Design. Patrick and the Design Community Leadership work to develop the IPC Design program as IPC redoubles its efforts to serve the printed board design engineering industry.

Copyright © 2020 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.