The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a US government organization that coordinates the creation of voluntary national standards. It is the official US representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). More detailed information is available at www.ansi.org.
ANSI works towards promoting national standards. These standards help consumers in the long run, as national standards ensure that competing companies in the same industry are following the same ground rules. Things like crash tests for cars, wind speed ratings for aerial work platforms, and a host of other things are all covered by national standards. ANSI estimates that there were more than ten thousand national standards in mid 2006.
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The American National Standards Institute pushes for acceptance of US standards internationally. Its standards are developed by consensus, meaning that affected parties have a voice. Conformance is voluntary, but to be certified in compliance, one must meet all of the requirements of the governing ANSI standard.
Like many things, an ANSI certified product is not necessarily better than a non-certified one. It is, however, a good indicator.
ANSI certification also carries weight with customers, especially B2B customers, who understand what ANSI means. It gives a reliable indicator about what they are buying. Being certified to ANSI standards is significantly more important in products with the potential to cause injury.
The primary way ANSI impacts continuous improvement is the need to develop additional task that needs to be for certification. These steps consume resources, and can affect flow. Continuous improvement efforts should focus on reducing the impact of certification on processes. A good opportunity to do this comes in the area of design. Products should be designed to make them easy to test. Designs should also minimize the risk of failing a test.
ANSI also plays a role in competition. A company selling a non-certified product that is competing with a certified product has to overcome a buying criteria where it won’t stack up well. It will need to compete in some other way to earn business. Continuous improvement shines at giving that competitive advantage to a company.