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Examples standardization

Examples standardization


The Big Mac is the same all over the world. But standardization at McDonald’s goes much further. The procedure within the restaurants is also the same everywhere. There is even a “Hamburger University” for senior managers of the company. This is a form of standardization within the company, also called company standardization. Both the production method and the presentation to the customer are standardized.

Creditcard and debitcard

You can pay with the same card in almost all countries in the world. Shops, hotels and restaurants accept it. Apparently a lot of parties have accepted this payment method: banks, companies, private persons. McDonald’s can set his own standards, but agreements about debit and credit cards require agreements between a large number of parties.

Crash on Mars due to conflicting standards systems

The internationally agreed quantities and units are not used in the United States and Great Britain. This can have fatal consequences. In 1999, the American Mars Climate Orbiter burnt in the atmosphere of Mars. Damage: $ 125,000,000. Cause: Using the International Standardized Metric System and the deviating US Metric System in parallel. The software of the Orbiter used the metric unit newton (1 N = 1 kg.m / s2) for the force quantity. However, the team on Earth used the ‘pound-force’, which corresponds to 4,448 newtons. The engineers at the space agency NASA failed to convert the measurements from the Orbiter to the other galaxy. As a result, they worked with incorrect data about the exact location of the spacecraft relative to the Martian surface and then issued incorrect instructions for course adjustment. The Orbiter got too low and burnt in the Martian atmosphere. This was a “human error” of an overworked team, but if the metric system had been used consistently, the problem would not have arisen.


The gasoline from Shell, BP, Esso etc. differs little or not at all in composition. Moreover, this petrol can be used for any brand and type of car. The same petrol is not only available in the Netherlands, but also abroad, so refueling abroad does not generally have to be a problem. This independence from supplier, customer and location greatly increases the ease of use for the buyer. The suppliers will have to compete with each other on matters other than the product specifications, the constancy in product specifications is their common interest.

Paper sizes

The A range of paper sizes is well known. This standardization was developed in Germany, around 1920. Main goal was the economical use of paper: sheets of paper are cut from large rolls of paper, and standardization reduced the cutting losses. A second advantage was – and remains – in the ease of use: the sizes of storage devices such as folders, ring binders and drawers can be adjusted to the standard paper sizes.

After eighty years, the same paper formats are still proving their usefulness: for copying, digitizing, printing, etc. Thanks to standard paper formats, these new technologies have been able to take hold more quickly, because no “conversion problems” had to be overcome.

Screw thread

Even older than the standardization of paper sizes is the example of screw threads: bolts and nuts that are matched to each other. A limited number of variants have been determined from the infinitely large number of possibilities. The user can choose from this “preferred range”. Because the designation is also standardized, screws, bolts, nuts and the like of the desired size can be ordered anywhere, without having to depend on one supplier.


Condoms must protect against pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. They must therefore be sound, but without unnecessarily hindering the experience of the intimate togetherness. That is why a number of standards have been developed for it. Standards for male condoms include requirements for dimensions and model, color fastness, packaging and labeling, among other things. Test methods for determining the length, width, burst volume, force and elongation at break and holes of condoms have also been laid down in standards.

Barcode and QR code

We all know it from the supermarket: the bar code. A number is displayed in a line pattern. The code indicates the country of origin, the manufacturer and the product number assigned to the product by the manufacturer. A scanner can read the code. Scanning the bar code at the till makes it possible to issue specified till receipts. But it can also be used to keep track of stock records. This makes it possible to automatically order additional products. These and other types of bar codes link products and product flows with data about these products and the transport of the products. By normalizing the bar codes, the applicability becomes universal: independent of industry, product type and application. In addition, affordable scanners can be developed that can read the standard codes. Without standardization, bar codes would only be used in isolated environments. In addition to the bar code, the QR code is now widely used as standard.

Electrical voltage

The Dutch 220 Volt is gradually being changed to the 230 Volt agreed at European level. Unity in electrical voltage makes it easier for manufacturers: they do not have to make different variations of their products per country. Users benefit from this, due to – slightly – lower prices and because they can also use their shaver etc. abroad (apart from problems with plugs.) It will be clear that once a voltage has been chosen, it is difficult to change: the change can have consequences for both the electricity grid and the connected equipment.

GSM, 4G en 5G

Without standards, your cell phone wouldn’t work. Your cell phone sends a signal that is received elsewhere and eventually ends up with the person calling you. This is impossible without clearly agreed specifications about the transmission signals. These agreements are laid down in standards of ETSI: European Telecommunication Standards Institute. In this case, the product even received the name of the collection of standards: GSM – Global System for Mobile Communications.

Environmental measurement methods

The government sets legal requirements for the maximum permissible concentration of pollutants in water, soil or air. Determination methods are required to measure those concentrations. If the polluter and the controlling authority use different methods, yes-no situations can arise: is there too much pollution or not? Determination methods have been standardized to prevent this.

Management systems

Who does not know the ISO standards for management systems? Originated from the need to set requirements for a supplier, so that they can be confident that they can fulfill the agreements about deliveries. Because there is a need for generally accepted criteria for this, these requirements have been laid down in international standards.

In the meantime, there are also international standards for environmental care and various countries, including the Netherlands, have started standardization in the field of care for working conditions.