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Practical Solutions from Industry Experts

ISA standards help automation professionals streamline processes and improve safety, cybersecurity, and efficiency in operations spanning multiple industry segments. Over 150 consensus standards and guidelines reflect the work and knowledge of more than 3,000 participating experts worldwide.

What is a Standard?

A standard sets forth requirements that a process, system, product, or material must satisfy if it is to be truthfully stated (or advertised) as meeting that standard.

ISA standards are not government regulations, but rather are voluntary documents that are sometimes referenced in regulations. In addition, contracts between private entities may include requirements to follow specific ISA standards.

Among their many benefits, standards help manufacturing and related organizations by harnessing years of experience and expert knowledge to:

  • increase human safety,
  • improve communications,
  • reduce design and implementation costs,
  • enable component and systems interchangeability,
  • reduce downtime and maintenance costs, and the need to keep large inventories, and
  • protect the natural environment.

ISA also develops two types of informative documents that support the understanding and use of ISA standards—but that do not carry the normative standing of an ISA standard:

  • Recommended practices (RPs) embody guidelines that may be followed or adopted to work effectively in specific applications within the scope of an ISA standards committee;
  • Technical reports (TRs) set forth informative material and guidelines to help users understand and apply an existing standard, or to better understand a topic that is important within the scope of an ISA standards committee.

ISA Standards Participation is Open to Experts from Any Country

ISA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop industry standards following approved processes to ensure openness and balance—and to prevent dominance by specific interests, companies, or organizations.

ANSI is a nonprofit organization, not a government agency. ANSI accreditation does not prevent participation in ISA standards by those outside the U.S. In fact, individuals working on ISA standards committees are based in more than 40 countries. Membership in ISA is not a requirement.

ISA Standards Committees

The key elements of ISA’s standards development program are set forth in our ANSI-accredited procedures. Those procedures call for main (oversight) committees that develop standards strictly within their approved scope areas to ensure that different committees do not work on the same or overlapping topic areas. Main committees typically have working groups that work on specific documents or projects.

ISA main standards committees include:

  • Instrumentation Symbols and Diagrams (ISA5)
  • Management of Alarms (ISA18)
  • Instrumented Systems to Achieve Functional Safety (ISA84)
  • Batch Process Control (ISA88)
  • Enterprise-Control System Integration (ISA95)
  • Industrial Automation and Control Systems Security (ISA99)
  • Wireless Systems for Automation (ISA100)
  • Human-Machine Interface (ISA101)
  • Procedure Automation for Continuous Process Operations (ISA106)
  • Intelligent Device Management (ISA108)
  • SCADA Systems (ISA112)
  • Fossil and Nuclear Power Plants (ISA77 and ISA67)
  • Control Valves (ISA75) and Valve Actuators (ISA96)

Serving on ISA Standards Committees

Participation on ISA standards committees is open to automation professionals from any country who agree with and abide by the following:

  1. To follow the ISA Standards Code of Conduct (see ANNEX A in our procedures).

  2. To understand you serve on an ISA standards committee strictly as an individual expert, not as a company or organizational representative.

  3. To never represent yourself in discussions, presentations, articles, or other communications as speaking for or on behalf of ISA or of a specific ISA standards committee or project without prior approval by ISA’s staff Director of Standards.

  4. To focus strictly on the technical content of standards, with no discussion or consideration of commercial/business issues in standards committee meetings or at any other time within the context of ISA standards development. This includes pricing of components or systems, sales information, market shares, warranties, and guarantees.

  5. To recognize and understand that ISA asserts ownership of all rights of copyright to its standards, including drafts, technical reports, recommended practices, and the completed, adopted standards for the convenience and benefit of all concerned. Specifically, ISA standards committee members:

  • must respect the intellectual property rights of others and must not knowingly provide or insert any copyrighted works into any committee materials for which the member has not received permission as necessary for use with the standard.
  • must not disclose any proprietary or confidential information in the course of ISA standards committee participation without authorization.
  • must agree to irrevocably transfer to ISA all right, title, and interest in and to any standard or other material developed under the auspices of ISA, including copyright, that such participant might otherwise acquire by law.

Voting and Nonvoting Members

ISA main committees include voting and nonvoting (also called information) members. The voting membership of main committees must be balanced across interest categories that include users, suppliers, integrators, consultants, government/regulators, and test/certification providers. This balance is intended to allow fair and open input from all categories without domination by any one category.

Voting members must meet active participation requirements (such as submitting content to documents) as defined by the main committees to qualify for and maintain their voting status. There may be no more than one voting member employed by the same company or organization.

New members to ISA standards committees typically join as information (nonvoting) members. Information members are observers who may submit review comments on documents and participate directly in committee work, including writing documents and leading working groups. They may apply for voting status if they can meet a committee-defined level of participation.

Working groups under a main committee may conduct informal votes on documents or other matters, but do not have official voting and nonvoting members.

Approving New or Revised ISA Standards

For details on how standards (as well as RPs and TRs) are approved by committees, see our procedures. To summarize:

  • Committee chairs approve the issue of a ballot on a standard, TR, or RP.
  • ISA standards are consensus documents, and thus unanimous approval by main committee voting members is not required.
  • For approval, standards require (a) a majority of the voting members to respond and (b) 2/3 approval of those voting members who responded.
  • TRs and RPs, being informative documents, require majority approval of the voting members.

All committee members, voting and nonvoting, may submit review comments during a ballot. All comments must be responded to in writing (typically in a spreadsheet) for viewing by the entire committee. Responses are usually prepared by the working group that developed the document.

Voting members are given a chance to change their votes based on the responses and any resulting changes to the document.

The process of voting, response, and reconsideration can sometimes go through several cycles, but when finished the document is balloted to a governing body, the ISA Standards & Practices Board, for final approval. This latter ballot is strictly to approve that ISA’s procedures have been followed properly in the development of the document. It is not a ballot on the technical content, which is solely the responsibility of the respective standards committee, being made up of technical experts.

Obtaining and Viewing ISA standards

ISA standards may be obtained at the listing of all ISA standards.

For ISA members, a major benefit of membership is free viewing of ISA-copyrighted standards, RPs, and TRs.

Do you have a suggestion for a new standard, topic, or training that ISA should consider? Please send it to ISA Standards.



Member Benefit

One of the many benefits of ISA membership is free viewing of most ISA standards. Members have two ways to access standards.

  1. Login to Pub Hub to get access to Standards, InTech archives, white papers, e-books, and more!
  2. Visit the Member Access to ISA Standards page for more information. 
If you are not already an ISA member, learn about all the benefits and join today!