Standards and certification: Case Studies

E-business networks
Henri Martre, honorary president of AFNOR

Given the dazzling progress in computers and telecommunications, the exchange of computerized data between firms can be expected to develop fast. For this to occur, an advanced standardization of national and international interfaces must be adopted. The race between technological progress and standardization lets everyone in this sector panting.

Which certification(s) for electronic signatures ?
Frédéric Tatout

Banks and some companies have been using electronic signature procedures for more than a decade. The gradual liberalization of cryptology over the past few years has come along with the expansion of Internet. We suppose that such procedures will be widely diffused since they form the cornerstone for confidence in the information society. On 13 December 1999, the EU published a directive for setting up a legal framework that, favoring this diffusion, is supple enough not to curb market creativity. The occupations related to electronic signature procedures are complex both technically and organizationally, in particular because highly reliable security techniques and safeguards have to be installed. Establishing a certification procedure for these activities and procedures is a rather imprecise but useful part of the European directive that will be hard to organize.

Water standards : Measuring and serving
Dominique Olivier and Catherine Moutet

Managing the water cycle, whether for household, industrial or agricultural purposes, or for conserving natural resources, requires highly specialized, technical as well as organizational, qualifications and interventions by professionals. Given this context with tighter legal and regulatory controls, standardization is taking on increasing importance. Initially centered around products and measuring methods, it has, with the help of innovations, turned to focus on managing water systems and the quality of services. Standardization thus helps both to improve the efficiency of public services by evaluating their performance and to satisfy requirements stemming from sustainable development, accountability and democracy. It facilitates a dialogue between public officials, water authorities, operators, consumers and citizens.

Standards for preventing explosions in electric power plants
Claude Bicard and Patrick Catherine

Current events sometimes cruelly remind us that the risks of explosions in plants are not imaginary. The accidents at the AZF chemical plant in Toulouse or the silo in Blaye are still fresh in the minds of the French public. In the electric power industry, as in others, standardization is an essential component for preventing explosions.

Standardization, a strategic tool in mechanical engineering
Philippe Contet and Jean-Pierre Chanard

Since the start of the industrial era, standardization has, for mechanical engineering, been a major strategic tool for changing the organization of production and improving products, both the latter’s intrinsic quality and the degree to which they fit client's needs. It is an essential vector in the competitiveness of firms that want to be leaders in the world market. For this reason, this industry has always tried to have its own standardization agency. Trends in producing standards for industrial design, mechanical components and equipment all show how much this industry is economically implicated in its market.


Coproducing automobile standards
Paul Serre

"Automobile standards" is a frequently occurring phrase that no one would dare define. Are they really standards… or rather regulations? Standards in the automobile indsutry have evolved away from these two models, by creating a hybrid: "societal standards" have emerged out of pressure from public authorities and private initiatives. These two factors will spur future innovations in this car-making.

Standardization and intelligent transports
Jean-François Janin

In many industries, the success of new products depends on users and operators rapidly adhering to a set of technical specifications, directions for use and contractual rules guaranteeing that products can be used in safety along with other products. If investments might not make much money, parties will take time to make decisions until they have a clear enough view of available technology — whence the disappointment of developers of new technology, who were drawn into what seemed to be a vast marketplace. The case of transportation, an industry that reacts slowly to innovation, illustrates this.

Standardization practices in industrial control and automation
Patrice Noury

At the start of standardization, well-known engineers placed their know-how in the community’s service in the effort to draw up technical specifications. Nowadays, techniques are infinitely more complex, and intellectual investments are expected to turn a profit right away. A standard is supposed to be profitable and facilitate diffusing the products it concerns. Industries in "control-command" and industrial supervision have severely criticized the CEI and ISO for their slowness in publishing standards in this field. After improving administrative delays, the CEI asked for the opinions of big industries; and it, along with the ISO, has just approved the conclusions. Two case studies (networks in industry and rail transport, and functional security) give us a glimpse of how standards will be put to use in the 21st century.

Standardization and certification in rail transports
Roland Merindol

The European Commission wants to stimulate rail transports in Europe. Actions are being carried out for redesigning railways. French and European standardization procedures have integrated this new policy orientation. What consequences will this have on evaluating and certifying whether standards are met?

Controlling assays of precious metals
Serge Maurel

National laws, which have changed little over time, have long regulated precious metals. Though still specific to each land, they are now gradually adjusting to EU standards. Given persistent opposition between "liberal" and "interventionist" countries, standardization at the EU level has not been fully achieved. The lack of a common jewelry market handicaps this industry.

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