Use standards to your advantage

Sometimes I buy something that is a replacement for something I have owned for a time and have either lost or just worn out. Often I am disappointed that the replacement is not of the same quality as the original. What has happened is that the marketplace has been at work while I was doing other things. Competition, the development of new technology or the dreaded “globalization” has caused the rules to change.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all product change is negative. Often times the “new one” is more functional, has more features or in some other way is a better value. Also, as a culture we have buy-in to the “throw it away and get another” mentality. Actually, that works to our favor in areas of rapidly changing technology. The computer of 5 years ago is not quite up to speed and you find the new polymer replaces the metal on your car without any loss in durability.

What happens when the true value of a product demands a minimum level that cannot be seen and its failure might result in very negative consequences. Enter….stage left…..STANDARDS. Standards are the metrics that allows the public to compare prior to purchase. Many manufacturers have turned to standards to combat cheap and poorly made products. Read the following from Bluff Manufacturing’s reasoning behind development of the new ANSI standard for dockboards and dockplates.

…….“The products of the loading dock industry were historically pretty much the same. The steel or aluminum historically has come from the same domestic sources. Manufacturing techniques and processes were very similar. A lot has changed in recent years in the availability of plate materials. No longer do we have US Steel, Inland Steel, and Lukens as suppliers of heavy steel floor plate. No longer do we have Reynolds and Kaiser as aluminum plate sources. Alcoa has its hands full supplying the aircraft industry. In their place, foreign sources have filled our needs with a variety of aluminum alloys.

It is important therefore to devise standards by which manufacturers can test their products to guarantee that they are as safe as ever……..” Read the full text.

When we buy or sell, standards are important. Remember, sometimes it is OK to sell a cheap product (toy plastic soldiers)…..sometimes its not (bridge carrying a person driving a $30,000 piece of equipment).

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