What are standards?

According to the Bureau for Standardisation, NBN, a standard is an agreement about a product, a service or a process. Standards reflect best practices in the industry, the service sector and the public sector.

Standards cover a wide range of subjects from construction to nanotechnology, from energy management to health and safety, from protective gloves to sports fields, and to prove that standards are not aloof of reality and shifting concerns, the concept of sustainability has been introduced as an important criteria in the drafing and revision of many standards. Standards can be very specific, such as product and test standards, or general such as management practices.

BSI, the British Standardisations Institute describes Standards as follows:

Standards are the distilled wisdom of people with expertise in their subject matter and who know the needs of the organizations they represent – people such as manufacturers, sellers, buyers, customers, trade associations, users or regulators. 

Standards are knowledge. They are powerful tools that can help drive innovation and increase productivity. They can make organizations more successful and people’s everyday lives easier, safer and healthier.

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    Who makes standards?

    Standardisation is the process of creating a standard. Interested parties, including companies, public authorities, consumers organisations and others, agree on the specific characteristics of a product, service or process. Standardisation takes place in committees with representatives from all stakeholders, on the basis of consensus, with all participants having an equal say.

    Standards are mainly developed on an international level. The Bureau for Standardisation (NBN) represents Belgium in this process in European and international standardisation committees, by delegating Belgian experts who actively participate. These experts share their knowledge and develop standards within Technical Committees (TCs).


    How to play a role in standardisation?

    Participating in standardisation yields some very interesting benefits: 

    • Access to first-hand knowledge on future developments and trends
    • Better protection of your product and R&D investments by influencing the standards development process.
    • Societal stakeholders can call attention to environmental protection or consumer issues
    • Opportunity to create an international network of international experts

    Centexbel's standards cells

    The standards cells are an initiative of the Belgian FPS Economy and have been created to better inform SME's about the impact of standards on their companies as well as to promote the application of standards.

    Sector operator for the textile industry

    As a Sector operators recognized by by the Board of Directors of NBN (Bureau for Standardisation), Centexbel is responsible for administrative and technical monitoring of several textile-related standardisation committees. This means that we act in the name and on behalf of the Bureau for Standardisation in the following ISO and CEN commissions and sub-commissions:

    • E099 Wallcoverings: CEN/TC 99
    • E134 Floor coverings: ISO/TC 219 & CEN/TC 134
    • E189 Geosynthetics: CEN/TC 189 & ISO/TC 221
    • E217 Surfaces for sports areas: CEN/TC 217
    • E248 Textiles and Textile products: CEN/TC 248 & ISO/TC 38, including
      • ISO/TC 38 SC 1
      • ISO/TC 38 SC 2
      • ISO/TC 38 SC 20
      • ISO/TC 38 SC 23
      • ISO/TC 38 SC 24
    • E398 Child protective products: CEN/TC 398
    • E411 Bio-based products: CEN/TC 411
    • I094 Personal protective equipment: ISO/TC 94
    • I09401 Head protection: ISO/TC 94 SC 1 & CEN/TC 158
    • I09403 Foot and leg protection: ISO/TC 94 SC 3 & CEN/TC 161
    • I09404 Protection against falls from a height: ISO/TC 94 SC 4 & CEN/TC 160
    • I09406 Eye protection: ISO/TC 94 SC 6 & CEN/TC 85
    • I09412 Hearing protection: ISO/TC 94 SC 12 & CEN/TC 159
    • I09413 Protective clothing and hand protection: ISO/TC 94 SC 13 & CEN/TC 162
    • I09414 Personal protective equipment for fire fighters: ISO/TC 94 SC 14
    • E079 Respiratory protection: CEN/TC 79 & ISO/TC 94 SC 15
    • I18801 Personal safety equipment: ISO/TC 188/SC 1

    In addition, the Centexbel experts are monitoring the activities in other commissions, such as:

    • CEN/TC 205 Non-active medical devices
    • WG 14 Surgical clothing and drapes used as medical devices in health care facilities - Performance requirements and test methods
    • CEN/TC 207 Upholsterd furniture
    • CEN/TC 351 Construction products - assessment of release of hazardous substances
    • CEN/TC 389 Innovation management
    • CEN TC 249 Plastics
    • ISO TC 61 Plastics
    • CEB-BEC CEN-CLC-JTC 10 Energy-related products - Material Efficiency Aspects for Ecodesign

    The importance of sector operators

    Sector operators manage standardisation committees, acting as the link between the experts in these committees and NBN. They also ensure that all stakeholders can take part in the standardisation process.

    Sector operators are highly competent within their field and maintain close links with the business world. They can rely on an extensive network of experts to disseminate all relevant information on standardisation activities within their field. This makes them essential partners for NBN.

    Standards and Innovation

    How does standardization support innovation? 

    There are certain rules and conventions that make up the framework for how our society works and how we live within it. For example, how money can be exchanged for goods and services, rules on how markets can operate, how scientific research is done, and how laws and policies are made. 

    Standardization creates a foundational framework from which innovators can design specific solutions. It provides a set of parameters to work within so that they can focus their energies on creating tailored and impactful solutions. 

    ISO 56002:2019

    Innovation management — Innovation management system — Guidance