ISO 9001:2000 IS A PRODUCT OF THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION, AN organization that works to establish standards for worldwide use across a broad range of disciplines.
Most of us appreciate the value of standardization. Water hoses fit backyard faucets everywhere. Light bulbs fit light sockets no matter who made them. Twin sheets cover twin mattresses pretty much the same way. But the concept of standardization as we know it today is a fairly recent one. International standardization began, interestingly enough, with technology, or at least with the rise of electronics and electrical equipment. This was around 1900, in Europe.
Nations saw the advantage of regulating the production of electrical components so that trade and commerce would be able to cross boundaries with a minimum of adjustments. In 1906, to support this new view toward standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) was established. For the next 20 years, the IEC made successful headway in establishing common and successfully embraced standards. Then a partner organization was established, the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA), set up in 1926. The ISA expanded the scope of standardization, focusing heavily on mechanical engineering, another rapidly growing field.
However, Europe in the late 20s and 30s was not the best place for the growth of international cooperation. With the outbreak of the Second World War, nations focused internally on more pressing matters, and both organizations quickly lost their influence. Both vanished with the rise of hostilities.
But the economic advantages of standardization could not be long squelched. Just after the close of the war, in 1946, delegates from 25 countries met in London and decided to create a new international organization, one designed to define and establish common, unified industrial standards for the whole of the European community. Such standards would provide for the simplified design, manufacturing, and maintenance of products across borders and international boundaries. The new organization, Organisation internationale de normalisation, officially began operations in February of 1947.
Today, the ISOheadquartered in Geneva, Switzerlandis made of up representatives from 148 member countries and has published nearly 14,000 standards. These standards cover dozens of industries and manufacturing specifications, including screw threads, fasteners, roller bearings, metallic fittings, ship and marine technology, boilers and pressure vessels, andas its history might lead us to expectinformation technology.
To date, its most influential, widely adopted, and recognized standard is its ISO 9000 family of standards, those that deal with a focus on quality, quality management systems, and process improvement.