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Standardization refers to the formulation , publication and application of rules, guidelines or characteristics by a recognized organization and its standards committees . They should be based on the established results of science, technology and experience and aim to promote optimal benefits for society. The specifications are drawn up with consensus and accepted by a recognized institution.


Standardization is mainly used when objects of the same type or similar are used in many different contexts in different places by different groups of people. By setting up and introducing specifications for recurring use, national and international standardizations are created within the group of interested parties. So be

Other goals can be associated with standardization, such as rationalization , reduction of diversity, compatibility , usability and safety . The goal of mutual understanding is also supported by the definition of terms .

The term de jure standard comes from the English usage, which corresponds to the German term “norm” (for example in DIN standard ). In contrast to this, a de facto standard is a result that has not been developed by at least a national standardization process (for example under the direction of DIN, the German Institute for Standardization). In this respect, there is no compact translation with a comparable definition for the German term norm with the English term standard (as indicated in).

For de facto standard , the term "is the industry standard ," the term for its emergence standardization used. In this respect, all standards of industrial interest groups are de facto standards , such as the Bluetooth protocols of the Bluetooth SIG or the IrDa protocol of the Infrared Data Association .

In addition to standards with public access, companies can also create internal standards (company standards). You can prescribe these as binding for suppliers.


A standardization process usually takes place in several stages:

  1. First of all, the subject of the standardization project must be identified and, if necessary, clearly differentiated from similar subjects that are not to be included.
  2. A committee made up of all relevant specialist and interested parties (scientists, producers, users and political officials) will be convened for the preparation. The broadest possible participation of all groups ensures the acceptance and applicability of the standardization of an object.
  3. First drafts and improvements of a regulation are being worked out.
  4. The draft of a regulation is subjected to a public comment and objection procedure, this is intended to ensure broad acceptance and applicability of the regulations. The DIN online portal for draft standards offers free online access to current draft standards and the option of submitting comments on draft standards online.
  5. Objections and suggestions are checked and, if necessary, incorporated into a new version of the regulation.
  6. Steps 3 to 5 may be repeated until a satisfactory status is achieved and no more significant objections are made.
  7. After the final processing, the result of the standardization process is documented as a “norm” or “standard” in the usual way for the respective organization and made available to interested parties and the public.

The flow charts of the standardization processes correspond to the business process for standardization work ( DIN 820-4), but may vary depending on the type of standard and the supporting organization. What they all have in common is that standards are drawn up in a multi-stage process in a democratic manner, with the involvement of all parties concerned, based on the principle of consensus. It is not the standardization organization that standardizes, but rather the experts use it to develop and publish standards.

See also:

Form and content of a standardization

The essential product of a standardization procedure is the document that contains the agreed and stipulated rules of the procedure and is referred to as a “norm” or “standard”. According to EN 45020, such a “standard” is a “document that has been drawn up with consensus and accepted by a recognized institution and that defines rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results for general and recurring use, with an optimal degree of order in one given context is sought. Note: Standards should be based on the established results of science, technology and experience and aim to promote optimal benefit to society ”.

EN 45020 defines the following types of standards: Basic or basic standard, terminology standard, test standard, product standard, procedural standard, service standard, interface standard, standard for data to be specified / declaration standard, there are also the types: planning standard, construction, calculation or Dimensioning standard, service contract standard and execution or processing standard.

Standards can have very different scope. A standard can only have a few pages or several parts. The structure of a standard consists of: title page, table of contents, the informative foreword, followed by the normative sections: scope, definitions and the main part in which the requirements are defined.

Well-known standards are for example:

In many cases, the result of standardization has not only resulted in rules that are isolated on individual subjects, but rather an interlocking set of rules that can be mutually referenced in individual standards. For example, in a standard for a single screw type, reference to materials and special types of construction can be made to other standards in which these requirements have already been developed.


everyday life

Standardization is a classic industrial policy field that can be significant for everyday life and is of great importance for the functioning of our economy. With regard to the economy, norms and standardization particularly support the free movement of markets. The rules created in the standardization process also provide general information on the state of the art of the respective subject or subject. Those who apply standards follow recommendations made by professional circles. Their creation and their application qualify them as recognized rules of technology.


Common norms and standards allow the free trade of goods and services without additional adjustment costs . Standardization promotes rationalization and quality assurance in business, technology, science and administration. According to a scientific study, cooperation and networking in standardization work in Germany alone leads to an annual economic benefit of 16.77 billion euros , which corresponds to around 0.7% of Germany's gross domestic product .

Legal character

By virtue of their origin, sponsorship, content and area of ​​application, standards have the character of recommendations, which everyone is free to observe and apply. Standards per se are not legally binding.

Standards can become binding through legal and administrative provisions of a legislature or regulatory authority or through contracts in which compliance with them has been agreed. They often serve to fill in vague legal terms, e.g. B. the term " state of the art ", and thereby acquire legal significance. (see also: Recognized rules of technology ).


Standardization is a classic industrial policy field that is of great importance for everyday life and the functionality of an economy. In relation to the economy, norms and standardization particularly support the free movement of markets and the ability of companies to innovate. Standardization helps technical knowledge and innovations spread more quickly and thus strengthens the competitiveness of companies. Standardization also relieves and deregulates the state because the interested parties set technical standards faster, more flexibly and in some cases more knowledgeable than the state to which the state can refer.

Levels of standardization work

National standardization

The so-called "interested groups" (companies, retailers, universities, consumers, crafts, testing institutes, authorities) send their experts to working groups (committees) of a national standardization organization (e.g. German Institute for Standardization), in which the standardization work is organized and carried out.

National standardization organizations also adopt regional (here European) and international standards, which then - translated if necessary - appear as national standards. In the case of the titles, for example, DIN or Önorm is mentioned at the same time with EN and ISO (for example DIN EN ISO 9001). It says that a standard under the same number is a German, European and international standard at the same time. DIN aligns its numbering with EN and ISO as far as possible (see the list of DIN standards ). New standards are therefore almost exclusively DIN EN, DIN EN ISO or DIN ISO. In the case of a few traditional standards of German origin, the DIN number is retained after the readmission.

European standardization

The European standardization is under the three organizations CEN , CENELEC and ETSI performed. CEN describes itself as a "system of formal processes for the production of standards that is supported by the 33 national member organizations". The national member organizations vote on European standards and implement them. The standardization organizations - with the exception of ETSI - have only one member per country who has to represent the entire standardization interests of that country. When voting, the members have different votes according to their economic strength.

German interests in European standardization are represented by DIN, whose standards committees decide whether to participate in a European standardization project. The technical supervision is assigned to a so-called "mirror committee", which carries out a German opinion-forming process and is responsible for representing it in the European committee. This can be done through written comments, sending delegations and / or appointing experts. If there is a standardization application in Germany, DIN must check whether there is a European standardization process on this topic or whether the standardization proposal for this level should be considered.

If the final draft of a European standard has been adopted in a formal vote by the majority of the voting countries, it must be adopted by the member organizations in the national standards.

The aim of European standardization is to harmonize the national standards in the member countries through the uniform introduction of European standards. European standardization is intended to dismantle trade barriers and create a level playing field and competitive environment for the European internal market.

Thanks to the “new concept” , European standards have a function in the deregulation of the European internal market. Lists of DIN standards, the application of which it can be assumed that the basic safety requirements of European directives are met, are published in the Federal Gazette.

International standardization

International standardization is carried out within the framework of the three organizations “ International Organization for Standardization ” (ISO), “ International Electrotechnical Commission ” (IEC) and “ International Telecommunication Union ” (ITU). ISO and IEC have only one member per country, who has to represent the entire standardization interests of that country. The German Institute for Standardization (DIN) is for Germany, the Austrian Standardization Institute (ÖNORM) for Austria and the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) for Switzerland .

The Vienna Agreement regulates the cooperation between ISO and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) .

The aim of international standardization is to publish international agreements as international standards. Its task is to promote standardization and related areas worldwide in order to facilitate the international trade in goods and services and to expand cooperation in all areas of intellectual, scientific, technical and economic activity.

Participation in international standardization is based on principles similar to those used in European standardization (see above). In contrast to European standardization, members of international standardization only have one vote each. The national members have the possibility, but no obligation, to incorporate international standards into the national standards. Should an international standard be adopted in the national set of standards, this may only be done as a complete, identical adoption.

Adoption of international standards

European standards must be adopted by all member states of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and by CENELEC in the national standards. National standards on the same subject must be withdrawn. The aim is the Europe-wide harmonization of standards and thus the dismantling of technical barriers to trade. International standards can be adopted voluntarily as national standards by the national standardization organizations. In Germany, the responsible DIN working committee decides whether to adopt an ISO standard. Upon adoption, the standard will be translated into German and given a national foreword.

The European CEN has reached an agreement with the ISO which provides for selected international standards to be incorporated into the European regulations. As stated above, these must therefore be incorporated into the national regulations.

Standardization carrier

Standardization is carried out on various levels and in different contexts by national and international organizations that have different corporate status. The smallest organizational unit are technical offices in commercial companies that create their own company standards for this company.

The German Institute for Standardization (DIN) is a private registered association (e.V.), the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is a private, not-for-profit organization, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission ( IEC) are international standardization bodies that consist of members of national committees who represent the interests of their country and bring them into international standardization work.


The German Institute for Standardization (DIN) and the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies (DKE) are the most important institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany responsible for standardization. You are the German member of the European and international standardization organizations for the relevant tasks.

The legal basis for DIN's standardization tasks are:

  • the statutes of DIN,
  • the standards of the DIN 820 series “standardization work” and
  • the standards agreement of June 5, 1975 concluded with the Federal Republic of Germany.

Within the framework of the standards contract, DIN and thus at the same time the DKE are obliged to

  • to take the public interest into account in standardization tasks;
  • to ensure that the DIN standards can be used to describe technical requirements in legislation in public administration and in legal transactions;
  • to involve the relevant authorities in the implementation of the standardization work;
  • Give preference to requests from the Federal Government to carry out standardization work for which the Federal Government asserts a public interest.

On the other hand, within the framework of the standards contract, the federal government has already announced its intention to refer to DIN standards in legal provisions and has promised to use DIN standards in administration and tenders.



Since the industrial revolution of Great Britain ran out, it is not surprising that there the first efforts were made on standardization of machine components. After Henry Maudslay had developed a lead screw lathe with cross support in 1797, he was able to manufacture threaded spindles with high reproducible accuracy. His student Joseph Whitworth started normal teaching in 1837. Standard gauges (e.g. limit gauges , gauge blocks , plug gauges ) are instruments with which the shapes and dimensions of a workpiece can be checked. The use of standardized components made it possible to replace defective machine parts. The components manufactured in large numbers according to the drawing with precise dimensions and tolerances not only reduced maintenance costs, but also production costs. Although the French Honoré Blanc had already introduced the mass production of individual components for weapon production in 1785, it was Whitworth who laid the foundations for the industrial mass production of individual components through the standardization he introduced. The Whitworth thread established by him in 1841 was to become the world's first national thread standard .

The first " Electrotechnical Association " was founded in 1879 by Werner von Siemens and the Imperial Postmaster General Heinrich von Stephan . It was the first association worldwide that dealt with all areas of electrical engineering. His self-set task consisted in the development and promotion of the technical application of electricity as well as in the maintenance of the scientific basis. After further electrotechnical associations had emerged in Germany, their delegates founded the “Association of German Electrical Engineers” (abbreviated: VDE; today's name: Association of Electrical, Electronics and Information Technology ). The first technical VDE committee had the task of developing regulations for the installation of electrical low-voltage systems . On November 23, 1895, the VDE committee members in Eisenach passed the first "safety regulations for electrical power systems ". This forerunner of today's DIN VDE 0100 was published in the Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift (ETZ) on January 9, 1896. The VDE regulation on cable lugs and clamping screws was also issued in 1896.

In Great Britain, the Engineering Standards Committee (today's name: British Standards Institution ) was founded in 1901 as the first national standards body. In 1904, the VDE published its first "Standard Parts Book". A year earlier, the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects published the first standard in reinforced concrete construction. The " International Electrotechnical Commission " (abbreviated: IEC) was founded in 1906 with VDE participation. In 1917, the “Standards Committee of German Industry” (today's name: “ German Institute for Standardization eV”) was established in Germany. In Austria, the “Austrian Standards Institute” (ON) was founded in 1920 (today's name: “ Austrian Standards International ”) . In 1970, the electrotechnical safety standardization of the VDE was merged with other standardization activities of DIN in the DKE German Commission for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies of DIN and VDE .

With the intention of further advancing industrialization through rationalization , interest in standardization grew in the individual states.

In 1926 the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA) was founded. The results of the work of the ISA were regarded as proposals or recommendations for the national standards committees.

First and foremost were the ISA fits , which made the interchangeability or compatibility of machine parts possible in the first place.

The first efforts to standardize on a global level are much older. Electrical engineers recognized the need for continuous, methodical and international standardization at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The " International Electrotechnical Commission" (IEC) was founded as early as 1906 .

After the interruption caused by the Second World War , the name “ International Organization for Standardization ” (ISO) was created, the new international standardization commission as the successor to the ISA. Germany has been a member of ISO and IEC again since 1952 through its national standardization organization DIN. The ISO's business is carried out by the central secretariat, while the IEC is carried out by a general secretariat, both based in Geneva . The "Technical Committees" (TC), which are composed according to subject areas, do the standardization work.


The work of the standards bodies reflects the interests of the members. The quality of a standard is determined by the qualifications of those involved. However, just like the existence of a de facto standard, the existence of a standard is in itself not proof of a certain market penetration and of a special position in technical competition.

In contrast to the assumed general interest, standardization can also be used to establish differentiation from competitors. Examples are sets of standards in security technology, such as the VDE 0825 personal emergency signal systems or the VDE 0834 call systems standard that update the requirements, the requirements of which are rarely fully met outside of Germany, although the meaningfulness of the requirements withstands technical criticism.

DIN standards and VDE regulations can be viewed in German academic libraries. This is only the case to a limited extent for standards and sets of standards of the IEC and ISO. Their acquisition is associated with high costs. As a result, only a small group of “initiated” people have access to these norms. For such written works or documents, which the general public can only access for a fee, the question arises as to whether they should be referred to as a “standard”.

See also


  • Thomas Wilrich , The legal significance of technical standards as a safety measure: with 33 court judgments on recognized rules and the state of the art, product safety law and traffic safety obligations, Beuth-Verlag, 2017
  • Martin Klein (Ed.): Introduction to the DIN standards . Teubner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-519-26301-7 .
  • Wolfgang Niedziella: How does standardization work? VDE, Berlin 2007, ISBN 3-8007-3006-5 .
  • Stefan Wiesendahl: Technical standardization in the European Union . Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-503-09761-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d EN 45020: 2007-03 Standardization and related activities - General terms (ISO / IEC Guide 2: 2004); trilingual version.
  2. Blind / Jung Mittag / Mangelsdorf: The macroeconomic benefits of standardization. Published by DIN, Berlin 2011 (pdf; 2.8 MB).
  3. The German Standardization Strategy currently. (PDF; 1 MB) DIN, November 26, 2009, accessed on February 16, 2016 .
  4. (June 30, 2017), History of the VDE , accessed on January 29, 2019.
  5. Karl-Eugen Kurrer : 100 years of standards in reinforced concrete construction , in: Beton- und Stahlbetonbau 98 (2003), no. 12, pp. 794–808, here: p. 801
  6. Barbara Schäder: 100 Years of the German Institute for Standardization - This is where order is taken care of ,, accessed on December 22, 2017.
  7., VDE 0825 - Personal Emergency Signal Systems , available on January 29, 2019.
  8., VDE 0834 - call systems , available on January 29, 2019.