Don't give up your seat at the table when it comes to standardsBy S. Joe Bhatia, President and CEO, American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration just released a staggering statistic. According to its latest research, up to 93 percent of global trade is impacted by standards and technical regulations.

So, if you aren’t already engaged in the standards work that impacts your business, you are missing a huge opportunity—and you could also be hurting your prospects for growth and advancement.

For example, in your field, standardized components can save you significantly in manufacturing. And operator manuals and graphical symbols that are standardized help keep operators and job sites safe.

And looking ahead, advanced manufacturing, the IoT (Internet of Things) and 3D printing technologies are sure to play a larger and larger part in standardization for equipment manufacturers.

Collectively, your industry is already doing a great job of engaging in standards development work, both domestically and internationally, at for an organization like the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).

As the U.S. member body to those two international standards organizations, ANSI holds hundreds of leadership roles on behalf of the nation. For example, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers has funded ANSI’s role as secretariat of ISO committees that develop international standards for tractors, earthmoving machinery, graphical symbols and elevating work platforms.

These leadership roles are very important for the U.S. to hold from a larger political and strategic perspective, but these activities also pay dividends for each and every one of you as well.

When ANSI holds a leadership role in an ISO activity, we have a clear advantage when it comes to communicating the preferences of our U.S. stakeholder community. And when your preferences make it into an international standard, you can see a clear positive result on your bottom line. You don’t have to change your manufacturing practices to suit someone else’s whims. You sell more products and services. And you do all of this because you were at the table. You were there when the standard was written.

But in recent years, companies have been decreasing their involvement in standards. As we relinquish our power and position at the tables where global technologies are developed, the Chinese, Koreans and many others, with funds in hand, are eager to snatch up the chance to exert greater influence. And who could blame them? It’s an incredibly powerful opportunity.

I think as an executive, you have two choices: position your organization to take a seat at the table, or let your competitors—or foreign governments like the Chinese or the EU Commission—dictate the way you will be doing business.

I hope you will reach out to ANSI and get involved. Working together, we can harness the power that standards and conformity assessment wield for U.S. businesses in the global market.

ANSI is the coordinator of the private-sector-led U.S. standardization system.

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