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8.3 National Calibration Laboratories

DKD – German Accreditation Institution

The German accreditation institution DKD (Deutscher Kalibrierdienst) was founded by German trade and industry and the German state represented by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the German national standards laboratory. The basic idea of the DKD is to transfer as many PTB responsibilities to the industry as possible, including the calibration of measurement and testing equipment. The DKD ensures traceability of measurement and testing equipment to national standards through accreditation and continuous auditing of industrial calibration laboratories. Therefore, calibrations carried out by DKD accredited laboratories offer a secured traceable and well-documented link to national calibration standards. An uninterrupted traceable chain of calibration links to national standards is absolutely necessary for acceptance of measurement devices by any quality management system. The qualification of the traceability to national standards is the job of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the German national standards laboratory. The PTB defines, effects, maintains and transmits the physical quantities of the SI-system, such as a meter, a second, a kilogram, a candela, etc. In order to ensure objective results, equal standards must be used. The calibration of measurement and testing setups based on SI-units is a basis for correct, comparable, recognizable and therefore measurable values that can be audited. Within the DIN ISO 9000 ff. standard, the relationship between quality management and calibration is partially interconnected for continuous control of measurement and testing equipment. DKD accredited calibration laboratories fulfill the requirements of the European standard EN 45001 (general criteria to operate a testing laboratory, May 1990) without exception. Outside of Europe, this standard is not compulsory. The ISO/IEC Guide 25 (General requirements on the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, December 1990) is recognized instead. EN 45001 and ISO/IEC Guide 25 are identical in terms of content. This is the basis for the mutual appreciation between the European cooperation for Accreditation (EA) and its partners outside Europe. In 1999 ISO/IEC 17025 took the place of EN 45001 and ISO/IEC Guide 25 thus eliminating any formal differences.

Existing DKD calibration laboratories automatically qualify for ISO/IEC/EN 17025 conformance.

More information on the DKD:

The European position of the DKD is noted by its membership in the European Cooperation for Accreditation of Laboratories (EAL) in Rotterdam, which was founded out of the Western European Calibration Cooperation (WECC) and the Western European Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (WELAC) in 1994. Within the EAL, different national accreditation institutes cooperate with common goal being international acceptance of calibration certificates of the EAL-calibration laboratories. In November 2000, 34 accreditation institutions from 28 countries, including the PTB, the accreditation institution of the DKD, signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

More information about this arrangement and the participating countries is available at

PTB – Physikalisch Technische-Bundesanstalt

The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is the highest technical authority for metrology in Germany. The PTB defines, effects, maintains and transmits the physical quantities of the SI-system, such as a meter, a second, a kilogram, a candela, etc. The PTB is the official accreditation institution for DKD calibration laboratories for optical radiation measurement quantities. Gigahertz-Optik operates one such calibration laboratory. The PTB is also actively working on bilateral acceptance on national standards. Because of their activities in 1995, a Statement of Intent on Traceability of Measurement Standards was signed between the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Equivalence of the National Standards of NIST and PTB for the SI Units of Luminous Intensity and Luminous Flux was officially recognized in April 1999.

More information on the PTB:

NIST – U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology

The Optical Technology Division of NIST's Physics Laboratory has the mandate to provide a high quality national measurement infrastructure to support industry, government and academia who rely on optical technologies for competitiveness and success. As a part of this mandate, the Division has the institutional responsibility to maintain two SI base units: the unit for temperature, the kelvin, above 1234.96 K and the unit of luminous intensity, the candela. As part of its responsibilities, the Division develops, improves and maintains the national standards for radiation thermometry, spectroradiometry, photometry, colorimetry and spectrophotometry. It also provides National measurement standards and support services to advance the use and application of optical technologies that are ideal for the ultraviolet range to microwave spectral regions for diverse industrial, governmental and scientific uses. The Division also disseminates these standards by providing measurement services to customers requiring calibrations of the highest accuracy and contributes to the intellectual reservoir of technical expertise by publishing descriptions of NIST developed advances in appropriate scientific journals and books. It also conducts basic, long-term theoretical and experimental research in photo-physical and photochemical properties of materials, in radiometric and spectroscopic techniques and instrumentation, in application of optical technologies in nanotechnology, biotechnology, optoelectronics, and in diverse industries reliant upon optical techniques.

More information on the NIST Physics Laboratory Optical Technology Division:

NRC – National Research Council Canada

The NRC’s Institute for National Measurement Standards Photometry and Radiometry Group maintains photometric, radiometric, spectrophotometric and colorimetric standards, and provides associated high-accuracy measurement services to companies, universities and government clients involved with lighting, transportation, manufacturing, telecommunications, public health and safety, as well as the environment.

More information on the NRC INMS Photometry and Radiometry:

NPL – National Physical Laboratory UK

The NPL is UK’s National Standards Laboratory for Physical Measurements. NPL's Optical Radiation Measurement (ORM) Group provides services which are the backbone for optical radiation measurements in the UK and internationally. Here the UK's Primary Standards and scales are maintained and pioneering research in measurement science carried out. ORM anticipates and responds to industrial and academic measurement requirements for the entire IR, Visible and UV spectra, and provides a comprehensive range of measurement and calibration services, instrumentation products, training and consultancy. Some of the range of measurement and calibration services, which are traceable to national standards include the characterization and calibration of:

  • all types of optical radiation sources
  • optical radiation detectors and associated devices
  • optical properties of materials and components
  • aspects of appearance including color, haze and gloss

The development of NPL's primary standards and measurement scales, enables the UK to maintain the most accurate optical measurement references in the world as well as enable the fostering of new ideas and techniques. Areas in which NPL is a recognized world leader include the development of the first cryogenic radiometer and the use of lasers in radiometry.

More information on the NPL's ORM: