February 12, 2014

Standards ensure positive change

Essay written by St Jude’s Form 3 student Ebenezer for the Tanzanian Bureau of Standards’ 2013 national writing competition.

There were around 200 entries and 46 came from St Jude’s. Ebenezer made it into the top 10 and travelled to Dar es Salaam for the award ceremony. He didn’t get one of the major prizes but was awarded a merit certificate and Tsh/-50,000. Ebenezer says he wants to use the money during the break to enlarge his chicken house so he can keep more chickens. Here's his essay: 

Standards are documented agreements containing specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines or definitions of characteristics to ensure that material, products, processes and serves are fit for their purpose. For example, the format of credit cards and smart cards that have become common place is derived from an ISO international standard. Adhering to the standards which defines such features as an optimum thickness (0.76mm) means that the card can be used world wide. Positive change is the act or result of replacing things, people and services from a worse situation to a better one.

Standardization began many years ago but started accelerating and becoming common in the 1960’s during the time of industrial revolution in many parts of the world. Standards were introduced to increase productivity and the quality of the goods. Currently each country in the world has its own national standards organization. In Tanzania we have Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) which was established in 1975 under a Ministry of Industry and Trade by an act of parliament. In 1976 the name was changed to Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) which effectively and officially began its operation in 1977. The world standard organization is called ISO. The International Organization for Standardization was established in 1947 with the mission of promoting the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitate the international exchange of goods and services and to develop cooperation in spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economical activity.

Standards ensure positive change in many ways. These changes are beneficial to individuals and the world at large. These are some of the positive changes brought about by standards.

Standards reduce the cost in production by optimizing operations and therefore improve the bottom line. Since the tools used in production are standardized, they work efficiently hence reducing the cost compared to when non-standardized tools are used. For instance, electronic machines which have no standards consume a lot of electric energy. This becomes a burden in production since the cost is multiplied. Tools and machines with no standards may only last a short time. This can cause an organization to undergo unnecessary costs in purchasing new tools or repairing them often.

Standards enhance customer satisfaction and increase sales in business when products are at their best quality and approved by standards such as ISO or TBS, customers are found to be satisfied leading to an increase in sales. For example, American products are often most preferred due to the fact that they are approved by the American National Standards which is very strict so as to ensure quality of the product. Imagine the world without standards. People would be complaining due to the increase of fake products in the market. It would be very difficult to determine quality products. Businesses would face difficulties in proving the qualities of their goods to their trusted customers.

New markets are accessed due to the existence of standards. International standards help prevent trade barriers and open up the global market. People of the African continent are able to import computers from Europe and Asia due to the presence of international standards. Any product approved by international standards to meet the requirements can be sold in any nation without any barrier. Even though the product is quality but it is not approved by the international standards, such products may be regarded as fake products. Some fake medicines have been imported into our country but because we have the national bureau of standards (TBS), all these medicines have been noticed and are being banned from sale so as to ensure the good health of citizens. This leads to economic development of the nation. Tanzania experienced rapid growth in production since 2006 due to roles played by TBS in ensuring standards for efficiency of the society as shown in the graph below

Standards increase market share through increasing productivity and competitive advantage. International standards raise competition in productivity and quality of goods. Many countries in the world have tried their best to produce quality products so as to attract more customers so as to increase their export trade. Goods imported to our country come from foreign nations. This is because we are still undeveloped because we import more compared to what we export. Standards raise competition in the global market by deciding which product deserves to be exported or imported. When goods which are below the required standards are imported or exported, such goods may be banned from being sold by the concerned national standards organization. Every nation in the world has its criteria for assessing the quality of products depending on the development of that country. Some products for instance can meet the required standard in Tanzania but cannot do the same in the USA. This is due to the technological and economical gap that exists. The biggest role of international standards is in increasing market share is creating national prestige where by each nation wants to honored in quality of goods it produces hence leading to global competition in productivity.

Standards also reduce negative impacts on the environment. Taking importation of cars as an example, some of the cars produce a lot of smoke into the atmosphere. In order to reduce such problems, international standards had to be introduced. For that reason, car manufacturing industries have tried their level best to modify car engines which produce less pollution in the atmosphere to meet the required standard. Imagine the world with no standards.

Standards ensure peace and security in the world. Products such as explosives and flammable liquids like petroleum have to be approved by international standards so as to avoid various accidents in case they are misused. Tanzanian and other international standards ensure that chemicals are stored in favorable conditions. For example, acids which are imported to our nation are ensured to be at optimum concentration and not being too concentrated. This is to safeguard the users.

Standards ensure expertise in the entire world. Through standards people become experts in various fields such as engineering, information and communication technology, electronics and mechanics. Since quality and efficiency of goods are judged based on standards, industries and manufacturing companies ensure creativity which induces expertise. Example, in South Africa we have well experienced experts in car manufacturing and these are made to the international standard and able to suit the conditions for transport in Africa.

Employment opportunities are broadened by standards. The standards organizations across the world provide employment opportunities to many people. Managers, laboratory technicians, chemists, scientists are among the careers provided by standards organizations.

A standard stimulates Innovation in the society. Standards have a considerable role to play in stimulating a knowledge-intensive activity such as innovation, regardless of whether this is focused on products or processes. Researchers, developers, engineers and marketing experts use standardization documents as important sources of information about state-of-the-art technology and processes. Standards and standardization activities strongly support the processes by which new technology is adopted and used, and they have a potentially powerful influence on the dissemination of information about technology.  Standards increases creativity in the society where people have been coming up with new techniques in undertaking production.


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