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Calibration certificates and national emblems will become digital

DAkkS and PTB are jointly putting machine-readable certificates and a digital accreditation symbol into practice.

Joint press release of Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS) and PTB

German products have an excellent reputation that rests on a complex system for quality assurance and consumer protection (known as “quality infrastructure” – QI). So that this promise of quality can also be kept valid in the digital world, the required instruments, for example calibration certificates and national emblems, have to become digital. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS) have now started to cooperate closely in order to introduce machine-readable Digital Calibration Certificates (DCCs) with a digital national emblem. By doing this, the stakeholders want to support the German economy in its digital transformation, and they are striving to develop Europe-wide and worldwide uniform standards in this area. This project is a sub-project within the framework of the joint QI Digital Initiative, which PTB and DAkkS are implementing together with their future partners (BAM, DIN and DKE).

Digital calibration certificates provide technical information in a machine-readable form - a distinct advantage for manufacturing and quality monitoring processes. Symbol image © Adobe Stock / zapp2photo

Together with a network made up of stakeholders from science and industry along with players from the private-sector QI, the QI Digital Initiative has set itself the goal of jointly developing a modern quality infrastructure that covers the demand for an interlinked and automated value chain and reduces costs. Digital and machine-readable result reports, for example calibration certificates, are an important component of this.

Calibration certificates furnish proof of the fact that a measuring instrument has been calibrated. Furthermore, they provide technical information on that instrument. It is specifically the machine-readability of DCCs that will support production and quality monitoring processes as these are becoming more and more digitalized. For that reason, over the past several years, PTB has elaborated a format for DCCs in close collaboration with industry and international partners. This new format is furthermore suitable for worldwide use. In close cooperation with DAkkS, the integration and application of a digital accreditation symbol as a machine-readable national emblem is now being implemented. This will make it possible for accredited bodies to issue all important information in a machine-readable manner without having to change between different media. DAkkS and PTB are working on the required processes by means of selected pilot projects. The aim is to make DCCs and the digital national emblem available for broad practical usage in a timely manner.

With regard to the technical specifications:

A DCC contains the entire information about a calibration in a structure that is comprehensible to computers. This information can be read out directly from digital systems and can be used further on in an automated way. This principle can be transferred to any other metrological document. Technologically, the principle is based on developments that, led by PTB, have now been broadly disseminated both nationally and internationally. The DCC is based on XML, a well-established markup language. Uniform semantics enable the transmission of calibration information in machine-readable form, which at the same time meets the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025 standard that is relevant for laboratories.

The digital accreditation symbol of DAkkS is based on a so-called public key infrastructure (PKI). This is a cryptographic system which makes it possible to issue and administrate secure digital identities. The national emblem provided by DAkkS is issued using a qualified seal certificate for advanced seal signatures as per EU regulation eIDAS Art. 3 paragraphs 26 and 30. This ensures that the identity of the issuing accredited body and the status of the accreditation issued by DAkkS are made digitally verifiable by means of a trust service provider.

The Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS)

DAkkS is the national accreditation body of the Federal Republic of Germany. With an accreditation, it confirms that laboratories and certification bodies are qualified to perform their work according to the requirements of internationally valid standards, legal bases and relevant rules. It also monitors whether these requirements are met. This is its legal mandate. With the issued accreditations, DAkkS contributes to making products, processes and services safer and to facilitating trade in Europe and worldwide by means of mutual agreements.

The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is the national metrology institute of Germany and the supreme technical authority of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). It is therefore Germany's highest authority when it comes to correct and reliable measurements. PTB employs a total of approx. 2,100 staff members at its two sites (Braunschweig and Berlin). They conduct research on fundamental questions concerning the physical units, calibrate measuring instruments to meet the most demanding requirements and perform conformity assessments. In cooperation with other stakeholders, PTB is working on a digital quality infrastructure that is geared to the future. if/ptb


  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Raoul Kirmes, DAkkS, Head of the Staff Unit “Accreditation Governance, Research and Innovation”, Phone: +49 30 67059-117, Email: raoul.kirmes@dakks.de
  • Dr.-Ing. Prof. h.c. Frank Härtig, Vice President of PTB, Phone: +49 531 592-2000, Email: frank.haertig@ptb.de

More information

  • For further information on the development and structure of the DCC, please click Opens internal link in current windowhere.
  • For further information on the QI Digital Initiative, please click Opens external link in new windowhere.