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Context: One of my colleague is arguing I can't use one of my baseline equipment for a long lifetime (15years) product because it is not an "industry standard" and might become obsolete and unsupported during that timescale.

Question: So when should we consider a particular equipment or device is an industry standard? Is there a database? How are industry standards defined?

This is not intended to be an open-ended question: "industry standard" appears to be a well-defined definition and I'm looking for that definition (I've looked at several sources including wikipedia and it doesn't help), guidelines on how to identify them, and explanations of how they are defined

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    \$\begingroup\$ Industry standard is more a popularity contest than a standard that is controlled and available from a standards organization. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Dec 9 '14 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ IMHO there are 4 "industry standards": 7400 series logic, 4000 series logic, the 555 timer, and the 741 op-amp. Everything else is transient by comparison. \$\endgroup\$ – Majenko Dec 9 '14 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ For example, take the 10:1 sample rate to analog bandwidth ratio on oscilloscopes. That's very much standard in that almost all manufacturers follow it, but it is not a written standard anywhere I am aware of. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Dec 9 '14 at 16:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your colleague means that you will probably not be able to find that component 15 years later which might be true depending on the application. Technology allows to make things smaller/cheaper/more efficient/etc. that causes products to be changed, or the customer demands cause products to be changed, or due to new technologies the old component's are not demanded or needed anymore then the producer stops producing it as it is not profitable anymore to manufacture it. It depends on the application but 15 years sounds long product life. \$\endgroup\$ – Angs Dec 9 '14 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mandatory xkcd strip on standards. (I'm obligated by law to post it here.) \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Dec 9 '14 at 17:37
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"Industry Standard" varies wildly from industry to industry. It very much depends on what you're buying and for what. In some industries, it means the device has passed testing (IE, automotive components passing AEC-Q# testing), while in others it means that it has a certain set of safety features (such as SEMI F47).

Very often, what it really means is "commonly used", not actually defined by a standard. Perhaps if you share what industry you're in or what type of device you're looking at, someone could give you a better answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point, I'm working on ground system equipment for the calibration of satellite instruments. \$\endgroup\$ – Mister Mystère Dec 10 '14 at 10:36
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Tautologically, something is industry standard if it's standardised by the industry. That means there will be a standards body issuing documents which define what the standard is.

For example, DIN standardise e.g. DIN plugs such as on PS/2 keyboards and audio equipment. JEDEC various things to do with ICs. IEEE. ISO. British Standards Institute for our BS1363 plugs. MILSPEC for high durability. There are quite a lot of these but they're not very search-friendly.

(The PS/2 keyboard is a good example of a defacto standard that didn't come from a body, rather from everyone making IBM compatible equipment. Defacto standards are harder to pin down.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what I thought. Can you give an example of equipment, rather than interfaces, which are industry standards? \$\endgroup\$ – Mister Mystère Dec 10 '14 at 10:38
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In general, your colleague is simply wrong. A given model of equipment may be widespread in the industry (for instance, the Tektronix 465 scope was a workhorse for 20 years) but there is no such thing as an "industry standard" piece of equipment in the sense that he means it. There are industry standards (such as RS232, which is still in use after 50 years) but equipment gets superseded as the technology advances. The 465 is a prime example, having been made obsolete by newer digital scopes. What counts in equipment is performance.

It would be inappropriate for you to specify performance in terms of your favorite equipment, though. That is, you should not specify measurements as "made by an XYZ Widgets bogometer model 3.14159". Rather you should specify limits and precision in terms of volts, or amps, or ohms, or whatever is appropriate.

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An example of a standard that will probably stay around forever is the NEMA 1-15 specification for polarized two-prong plugs in the US. Along with that is the 120v, 60 Hz power we use (although I'm not sure there is a formal standard for that.)

However standards can become obsolete; for example ungrounded two-prong NEMA 1-15 receptacles have been prohibited in new construction for 50+ years, making that standard obsolete. They have been replaced by the NEMA 5-15 three-prong polarized receptacles. However many grounded and ungrounded two-prong receptacles still remain in older buildings (and are not required to be replaced, but if replaced, must be brought up to current standards).

If standards are updated, they need to be done in a compatible way if possible. For example, the now obsolete unpolarized NEMA 1-15 two-prong plug will still fit into a three-prong polarized receptacle. (However, a polarized 1-15 plug will not fit into an old-style unpolarized 1-15 receptacle by design, since it would defeat the purpose of the polarized plug.)

NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) is not a governmental organization, but rather an association of some 450 member companies.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, like the USB chargers for phones have been standardized (but maybe not formally?) by a a group of industrials rather than an normalisation body. But can equipment be industry standards as well? For example, a multimeter, a power supply... \$\endgroup\$ – Mister Mystère Dec 10 '14 at 10:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MisterMystère USB chargers are a good example; the Micro-USB connector was chosen in 2009 as the standard power/data connector for all new European smartphones. I don't believe there are any standards for equipment per se as you describe; it is usually the connectors that are standardized, and in many cses these are de facto standrds, such as the use of BNC connectors for oscilloscope probes. Of course all radios much adhere to whatever frequency bands they are designed for. \$\endgroup\$ – tcrosley Dec 10 '14 at 17:15

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