German Standards for Construction and Engineering
At the end of the 19th century, a lack of universal standards was making trade increasingly difficult. Just about every company had its own standards, which differed from everyone else’s. The Engineering Standards Committee was established in London in 1901 as the world’s first national standards body (this eventually became the British Standards Institution in 1931). Standards were adopted throughout the UK, and enabled an increased level of economic cooperation. After the First World War, national standards bodies were set up in several other countries. The Deutsches Institut für Normung, or DIN (German Institute for Standardisation) was set up in Berlin in 1917, and has remained based in that city to the present day. DIN is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation and has been recognised by the German government as the official national-standards body since 1975, representing German interests at the international and European levels. Today, ninety percent of the standards work carried out by DIN is international in nature. There are currently around thirty thousand DIN standards, covering almost every technological field.
DIN’s first published standard was ‘DI-Norm 1’ (for tapered pins) in 1918. One of the earliest and most well-known German standards is DIN 476, published in 1922. This is the standard that introduced the A-series paper sizes. DIN 476 was adopted as International Standard ISO 216 in 1975. Today, DIN is also known for its connector standards, which have given rise to the electronics term “DIN connector”. A DIN connector is a type of cable that plugs into an interface to connect devices. Its architecture is composed of multiple pins within a protective circular sheath. The original DIN standards for older connectors are no longer in print and have been superseded by the corresponding international standard IEC 60130-9.
DIN views its remit as being to promote and supervise standardisation activities through systematic and transparent procedures for the benefit of society as a whole, while safeguarding the public interest. The purpose of DIN’s work is to advance innovation, safety and communication among industry, research organisations, the public sector and society as a whole, and to support quality assurance, rationalisation, occupational health and safety, and environmental and consumer protection. DIN publishes its work results and promotes their implementation. Some 30,000 experts contribute their skills and experience to the standardisation process.
Another German organisation which publishes standards is Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, also known as the VDI (Association of German Engineers). Established in the small town of Alexisbad in 1856, the VDI promotes the advancement of technology and represents the interests of engineers and engineering businesses in Germany. The first VDI standard – a document on the examination of steam boilers and engines was published in 1884. Today, the VDI is based in Düsseldorf and its technical divisions produce around 200 standards based on the latest technical developments per year. This has enabled the VDI to build up a set of technical regulations, which include more than 2000 standards extensively covering technology fields. VDI standards enable the VDI to fulfil its primary function: the transfer of technical knowledge to engineers and students.