What You Need to Know About...Standards

By Jeff Endres
Why are standards important?

Everyday life in an optical lab would not function as well as it does without standards. As defined by ANSI a standard is “a document, established by consensus that provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results.” As such, they establish the size, shape, or capacity of products or systems. Standards can specify the performance of the lab consumables you buy, processes, or even personnel. They also define terms so that all involved, ECPs and labs, speak the same language. Standards ensure that optical machinery can be used anywhere in the world, that base curves can be trusted, and that the plane carrying your jobs from the local airport, can be refueled anywhere in the U.S. In the U.S. there are more than 100,000 standards at work across all industry sectors, but only one primary standard that is of critical importance to labs in the production of prescription eyewear, ANSI Z80.1.

Who Makes the Standards?

In short, if your lab is not involved in the process, your competitors, your suppliers, and your customers are. By being active with ASC Z80, accredited for this work by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), your production lab experts can contribute to the standard written for eye wear. In this role you or your expert, working in close collaboration with other stakeholders from industry and government can identify standards-based solutions to production, safety and related vision issues that affect your bottom line. How are standards created?

Standards are developed by technical experts working together to meet the need. Twice annual meetings in the spring and fall cover the main extent of the contribution.

Points to Ponders

 Is your staff aware of the applicable standards?  Do you have the most recent copy of Z80.1?  Does your adherence to Z80.1 play a role in your marketing or sales strategy?  If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are already a stake holder. So what is your standards strategy?

ANSI guides the process by which groups like ASC Z80 function by accrediting the procedures and approving the documents produced. These methods promote compliance with an open and fair consensus development process that protects the rights and interests of every participant through a set of “cardinal principles” such as:

o Openness – Any materially affected and interested party shall have the ability to participate. o Balance – Participants should represent diverse interests and categories, and no single group or individual should have dominance in standards development. o Due Process – All objections shall have an attempt made toward their resolution. Interests who believe they have been treated unfairly have a right to appeal. o Consensus – Agreements are reached when more than a simple majority of the participants concur on a proposed solution.

Weights and measures may be ranked among the ­necessaries of life to every individual of human society. — John Quincy Adams quoted from the Report on Weights and Measures by the Secretary of State made to the Senate on February 22, 1821

Are standards important?

They should be. The quote from President Adams illustrates that although the details are different—instead of weight we speak in diopters, axis, or prism—standards are more essential for your business today than at any time.

Why You Should Be Involved

ANSI Z80.1, the mainstay standard for U.S. labs, was written by industry experts just like you. Experts that saw the value in helping themselves through helping industry, and who took the time to participate. Z80.1 has become the “rule” that addresses the safety and quality of the product to the end user, and also levels the playing field between competitor labs, and between lab suppliers across the country and across borders.

Taking the time to participate provides a chance for your company to receive information on important issues from peers, and to establish contacts in a forum where you can network with the business community, customers, government, and regulators. Participating in the standards process means gaining detailed advance knowledge and so enables you to anticipate requirements and manufacturing trends. If you choose, your business can get recognition for leading in your field, and use this status as a marketing tool.

How do you proceed?

In general anyone who is interested in participating and developing a standard can do so, provided the individual has the needed expertise and comes to the issue through the established channels. Contact your industry technical experts. They will steer you toward the best solution to an engaging standards experience, and at the level of commitment that fits your needs. Don’t wait—the time is never exactly right—but there is never a better time to expand your business opportunities.

This article was written by Jeff Endres senior technical director for The Vision Council. To become involved in the standards affecting the optical business and for more information please contact him at jendres@thevisioncouncil.org The Vision Council serves as the global voice for vision care products and services representing manufacturers and suppliers in the optical industry. To join The Vision Council OLA Lab Division contact Bob Dziuban at rdziuban@thevisioncouncil.org

CURRENT ISSUE


May/June LabTalk 2017