Standardization first started in the electrotechnical domain, and, in our country, more organizations having standardization as a purpose have been organized chronologically, since 1927: The Commission for the Romanian Industry Norms, The Office for Rationalization and Normalization, the General Association of Engineers in Romania (AGIR). In 1948 the Romanian Centre for Normalization was established and set out the first draft standards devised and developed in a technical and scientific manner. There were 98 draft standards published and subjected to a public inquiry by means of the `AGIR Normalization Bulletin’, which was issued in 1948.
Hence, the first Romanian standard was STAS 1 – Desene tehnice (Technical drawings) published in 1949.
The standardization activity in our country is carried out under the coordination of the National Standardization Body (ASRO). ASRO is the platform which creates the framework for the development and adoption of European and international standards available on the market, and also represents Romania, as a full member, in the international and European standardization organizations. (ISO, IEC, CEN, CENELEC, ETSI).
For example, Romania has been an ISO member since 1950. The direct outcome of the standardization activity, the standards, have a full impact on security, interoperability, performances and environment, for a large variety of products and technologies and indirectly, for the vast majority of the domains which influence aspects of everyday life, regardless if we speak of energy, manufacture, transport, health, constructions, education, trading, learning, agriculture, animal husbandry, either in cities or in rural areas.
As the national standardization body, ASRO promotes, by means of its National Strategy, the principles of a modern standardization system, contributes to the achievement of the strategic objectives of national economy, in general, and actively participates, especially in the industrial policies, services, innovation and technological development domains. Use of standards is the best way to comply with technical regulation and increase of competitiveness of the national industry in the context of the European Single Market.
Top Domains for Standards
Perhaps one of the most regulated and challenging domains is Constructions. It is in this area where a significant number of standards were developed, with the purpose of being an important instrument for the application of national and European regulations. As an example, Eurocodes have a crucial role. Among the domains which cannot function without standards are food processing – production, analyses and tests, the oil and natural gas industry, energy efficiency, metal and textiles, electronics and electrotechnics, environmental protection – water and air quality, waste, but, also, emerging domains, such as hydrogen, circular economy, additive manufacturing, forensics and nanotechnologies.
Getting involved in Standardization
Standardization is open to all its stakeholders, and there are no barriers in this respect. Standards are developed within technical committees (TC), which are created on the basis of some important principles, such as equitable representativeness and consensus.
Within the national technical committees, specialists who choose to become members are the voice of the companies – representatives of the business environment, the research& academic environment, the inspection bodies, authorities, but also stakeholders from the society environment – such as those who defend the rights of the consumers, the environmental protection and even the voice of the trade unions.
At the national level, 151 technical committees, dealing with standardization sectors considered of interest to the market, operate under the coordination of ASRO, in which more than 1500 representatives from about 675 organizations are active. These are involved both at national and European and/or international level. Technical committees at ISO, IEC or CEN-CENELEC level have mirror committees at the national level, as far as the national stakeholders show interest in the scope of the respective technical committees.
For example, one of the most recent national technical committees that were established and are relevant for the energy domain is Hydrogen in energy systems. There are also committees with tradition, such as – Constructions, Natural gas and gas analysis, Materials, equipment and structures for the oil and natural gas industry.
Thus, ASRO makes available for all stakeholders a platform which is open to those who are interested in influencing the contents of the standards and to participate actively in the national, European and international standardization activity.
Benefits of Standardization
Standards are voluntary instruments. However, a company manufacturing products and/or supplying services which fails to comply with the standards will never be competitive enough, and this will be a huge disadvantage as the market will apply its selection rules. Standards contribute to the environmental protection, and to the people’s health & safety. They offer, for example, measuring methods for monitoring and controlling air pollution. The standards in the food hygiene domain provide methods for the classification and testing of the materials that come in contact with food. The standardization of the quality and safety of the products helps companies win the trust of the consumers. For example, tools and equipment designed and tested according to the standards offer a better protection to professionals.
Another benefit of standardization is the improvement of the access to the markets: standards facilitate the access to new markets, thus making the products or services compatible and comparable. And, last but not least, standards contribute to the improvement of the interoperability between products and services.
We may say that standards are those invisible elements which, once implemented, make it easy to understand the complex mechanisms, integrate systems, facilitates the relation with the legislation and regulations, and set up bridges with the end consumer.
Access to the Standards
Companies at the national level ensure that they have access to the standards needed to carry out their activities, either for production, testing and laboratory tests or for management systems, quality assurance of the products and services they provide to their customers, etc. ASRO provides, through sale, customized collections for each activity domain: from standards for the food industry, standards for energy, oil, gas, fuels, textiles, construction, over 32,000 documents, in whole. It also offers a set of minimum standards required for any company, which is key to the success on the market by implementing quality, environmental, occupational and information security management systems, as well as risk management, business continuity, social responsibility and resilience.
Standards for the Future
The economic, as well as the commercial uncertainty, the change in the company’s expectations, the impact of climatic changes and digital transformation are the main challenges the standardization will have to face during the years to come.
Which is why ASRO, together with the whole standardization community will have to keep up with the emergent technologies, in order to be able to cope with the future challenges.
Standards can contribute to an inclusive digital society and build a shared ecosystem of trust. The international and European standards organization – ISO, IEC, CEN, CENELEC develop standards for cutting-edge digital technologies, such as cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, quantum, Fintech, eAccessibility, while still aligning with European values that respond to relevant European policy needs.
The future can happen with standards.