ISO Crazy: The Lighter Side of ISO Standards

By ETQ on May 26, 2011

When I first started my career, I knew nothing about ISO.  In college, I got about a day’s worth of ISO explanation in business school.  It was summed up as, “ISO 9000 is a management standard…..Deming…..Japan….quality management…….any questions?”

(I slept through much of that class, so there are a few pieces missing in my memory).

Now, many years later I’ve entered into a field where we the ISO standard mean more than a footnote in an overpriced textbook.  Many professionals make their career out of adhering to these (and other similar) standards.  ISO is not limited to Quality Management, EH&S Management and the like.

And now that i’ve lived in this profession, it’s actually pretty cool.  When I train the average “layperson” about ISO standards, I always ask, “Why are screw threads and heads always the same size, or why does every brand follow the same shoe size?”  ISO standards govern these, and it’s designed to keep every industry “on the same page” – like a wonderful orchestra of manufacturing.  Some of my more favorite standards include:

ISO 3591:  Sensory analysis — Apparatus — Wine-tasting glass

Yes, there is a standard for the glass you use to taste wine – the dimensions, length, curvature, all of it.  Pretty cool.

ISO 9407: Shoe sizes — Mondopoint system of sizing and marking

As i mentioned above, there is a standard for determining shoe size.  There are actually ones for the US and international as well.

ISO/FDIS 13289: Recreational diving services — Requirements for the conduct of snorkelling excursions

In case you were wondering how to handle yourself on your next vacation to the carribbean, there’s a standard for that.

ISO/CD 10788: Space systems — Lunar dust simulant

The space program has hundreds of standards, and with good reason – we didn’t land a man on the moon out of sheer luck  This one is the standard for replicating the surface of the moon.

ISO 16508: Road traffic lights — Photometric properties of 200 mm roundel signals

Always important to make sure that you follow proper guidelines for your traffic lights, otherwise you end up with a situation like this:

What about you?  What do you think of some of the more unique ISO standards?

What are the more fun ISO standards you have come across?