That subject was the topic of Assembly Magazine’s cover story in its October 2003 issue.
With each project, there’s always a requirement or two that may not be met, at least to the satisfaction of the engineer. The tendency is to add a few sentences to the standard spec to make sure the next machine doesn’t have the same issue. Trouble is, over time, these requirements can add up to become inappropriate, out of date, or even irrelevant if not reviewed carefully with each new project.
This reminded me of an interview I conducted with Mel Bahr in late 2002, president of MGS Machine and then-chairman of PMMI. He has seen many times the dreaded standard specification document that specifies, for example, "a certain brand of crimp-on connector onto a wire. Is that really necessary, and does it really help the performance of the machine? Probably not." Bahr said it’s clear that boilerplate spec documents are extremely common.
Bahr continued: "Quoting to a very thick stack of specifications is very expensive and time-consuming for [packaging machinery builders]. I think we're all solidly behind having a good process and performance specification, but the things that we don't feel are so necessary are some of the component issues that quite often take away from our products." And drive up costs.
Check out the Assembly Magazine article. It includes an excellent outline for writing a standard specification, covering purpose, equipment performance, equipment configuration, builder performance, deliverables, and validation. The outline can easily be adapted for packaging machinery.