OIML – OVERVIEW

The history of the International Organization of Legal Metrology

BERNARD ATHANÉ, Director of the International, Bureau of Legal Metrology, 1974–2001

1 The gestation period, up to 1956  

Despite the fact that the International Organization of Legal Metrology is relatively young (it is not yet 50 years old), in fact discussions concerning its establishment started at the dawn of the 20th century.

When the Meter Convention was signed in 1875, participants in the founding Conference referred to National Weights and Measures Offices, which were in fact legal metrology bodies since at that time National Measurement Institutes did not yet exist. It was the opinion of these participants that the harmonization of national measurement standards for the kilogram and the meter would be sufficient to eliminate barriers to trade resulting from divergences in measurement results, but in fact it was quickly realized that this harmonization was far from sufficient. Divergences in measurement results exist not only when primary standards are different, but also when the traceability schemes between primary standards and measuring instruments are different or when the accuracy requirements for measuring instruments and verification procedures are not harmonized. This is why the participants in several General Conferences of Weights and Measures (CGPM) discussed, during the first decades of the 20th century, the possibility of enlarging BIPM responsibilities to cover practical and legal metrology aspects, these being mainly matters of calibration and verification of measuring instruments.

Following decisions made by the CGPM and by the CIPM (International Committee of Weights and Measures) in 1933 and 1935, a first International Conference on Practical Metrology was convened by the French Government in July 1937, in the context of the Paris Exhibition. This Conference, which was attended by representatives from forty countries, was intended to establish a Permanent International Consultative Committee for Practical Metrology acting as an advisory body to the CGPM. Very quickly however, it was decided that the objectives of the Conference should cover “legal metrology” and the main output of three days of discussions was to create a Provisional Committee of Legal Metrology aimed at preparing the establishment of a permanent international body for legal metrology. The Provisional Committee should have met in Berlin in 1938. Owing to the prevailing international situation, it was only in 1950 in Paris that it was able to meet for the first time, to start developing the layout of a Convention Establishing an International Organization of Legal Metrology. Then during two years the Provisional Committee pursued its activities by correspondence and met again in 1952 in Brussels. This meeting and the intense activity which followed resulted in two essential steps in the life of the OIML:

● in 1955, the signature by 24 countries of the Convention Establishing an International Organization of Legal Metrology;

● in 1956, the First International Conference of Legal Metrology, held in Paris.

2 The OIML Founder Fathers

It is not possible to retrace the history of the OIML without mentioning the names of those who contributed significantly to its establishment and first steps. This is however a difficult task owing to the risk of forgetting specific persons whose names do not explicitly appear in the archives of the OIML although they may have positively influenced – sometimes just at the national level – the existence of the OIML.

To diminish this risk, the names given below are extracted from the addresses delivered at the First OIML International Conference and the attendance list of this Conference.

Amongst the participants in the 1937 Conference on Practical Metrology, those who were able to contribute to further steps were mainly Messrs.:

Kösters (Germany)

Jacob (Belgium)

Nielsen (Denmark)

Viaud and Costamagna (France)

Rauszer (Poland)

Statescu (Rumania)

Volet (Switzerland)

Chatelain (USSR)

Kargacin (Yugoslavia) and

Perard (Director of the BIPM).

The Provisional Committee also benefited from the experience of Messrs. Stulla-Götz (Austria), Dolimier (France), Idema (The Netherlands) and Zalutsky (USSR).

Most of these names were referred to in various addresses delivered on the occasion of the First OIML Conference. Special emphasis was put on the role of Messrs. Jacob, who chaired the International Committee of Legal Metrology (CIML), and Costamagna, who had acted as Secretary of the 1937 Conference, of the Provisional Committee, of the First Conference and of the CIML, before being appointed Director of the International Bureau of Legal Metrology (BIML).

In addition, the First Conference was attended by a number of “new” persons who subsequently played a role in the development of the OIML, especially Messrs.:

Vieweg (Germany)

Chritiansen (Denmark)

de Artigas (Spain)

Honti (Hungary)

Koch (Norway)

König (Switzerland) and

Bourdoun (USSR).

The Conference was chaired by Mr. Perard with Messrs. de Artigas and Honti as Vice-Presidents. The CIML, chaired by Mr. Jacob, elected Mr. Bourdoun as its First Vice-President.

Most if not all of the persons mentioned above have now passed away. At least three participants in the First Conference are nevertheless still alive. One of them is Mr. Koch, from Norway, who went on to be CIML Member. The other two were members of a unified German Delegation including representatives from both Western and Eastern parts of Germany: those are Messrs. Mühe and Liers who thereafter also represented the Federal Republic of Germany and the Democratic Republic of Germany on the CIML, up to the re-unification of this country.

It should also be noted that two countries which had participated in the 1937 Conference and in the Provisional Committee attended the First Conference as Corresponding Member and Observer respectively: the United Kingdom (represented by Mr. Poppy) and the United States of America (represented by Messrs. Crittenden and then Astin) which joined as Member States in 1962 and 1972 respectively. Other countries became active within the OIML following its establishment: certain of those are mentioned below.

3 The first years, 1956–1968

During its first twelve years the OIML simultaneously benefited and suffered from a number of characteristics inherent to its role as defined by the OIML Convention, to the profile of national legal metrology experts, to its membership, and to the economic and political situation which prevailed at this time.

Most of the national legal metrology services in OIML Member States were well established administrations, with relatively numerous technical staff, eager to cooperate at international and, for certain of them, regional levels. For example the regulatory developments within the European Common Market, including the drafting of legal metrology Directives, took place exactly at the same time as the development of the first OIML Recommendations, with practically the same experts from Western European countries working at both levels. Similarly, cooperation within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance included the development of verification and calibration specifications for measuring devices and the OIML benefited from this activity carried out by Eastern European countries.

However, these beneficial characteristics also had an adverse aspect: the OIML was not really an international body, since most of the human resources were provided by European countries. In addition, Western and Eastern European countries had different views concerning the scope of legal metrology: it was limited to measuring instruments used for trade (and to some extent for medicine, safety and pollution) in Western Europe whereas practically all measuring instruments were covered by mandatory specifications in Eastern Europe. In addition, most of the metrology administrations in this part of the world were included in larger national committees covering standardization and quality control, which in certain cases made the life of legal metrology services somewhat difficult.

The OIML also had to face a problem of acceptance by other international bodies working in fields connected with legal metrology. The cooperation with the bodies of the Meter Convention and the BIPM was nearly non-existent whereas a close cooperation would probably have been useful to promote metrology at the international level. Conflicts appeared mainly with certain standardization spheres; it was considered that OIML work overlapped the responsibilities of ISO/IEC in fields such as the measurement of petroleum products, water meters, electricity meters, gauge blocks, electrical thermometers, etc.

Despite these difficulties the OIML was able to establish its basis and prove its usefulness through its technical output. At the time of the Third OIML Conference held in Paris in 1968, 18 Recommendations had already been approved, 8 were at the level of final drafts and some 33 texts were being developed within the relevant technical secretariats. An extremely important OIML publication had also been approved: the Vocabulary of Legal Metrology (developed under the chairmanship of Mr. Obalski from Poland) which was to remain (together with the IEC Vocabulary) the international basis for metrology terminology up to the issuing, some twenty years later, of the International Vocabulary of Basic and General Terms in Metrology, the now well known VIM developed through the cooperation of seven international bodies, including ISO, IEC, the BIPM and the OIML.

The growth of the OIML during its first twelve years was also made evident by other parameters such as the number of Member States (36 in 1968) and the more frequent meetings of the International Committee which was chaired by Mr. Stulla-Götz (Austria) from 1962 (date of the Second OIML Conference in Vienna) through 1968 and then by Mr. van Male (The Netherlands).

In parallel with its technical activity, the OIML had from its very beginning initiated actions aimed at encouraging the establishment of sound legal metrology resources in Developing Countries. Amongst the main actors of this activity were Representatives of India, Indonesia and Morocco (Messrs. Putera and Benkirane acting as CIML Members for Indonesia and Morocco over some twenty years), actively supported by other Member States such as Sri Lanka and Cuba, as well as by more industrialized Members e.g. Germany, France, United Kingdom and USSR. Cooperation with UNESCO, UNIDO and ISO/DEVCO was effective and it is unfortunate that at this time the BIPM had not developed any action in favor of development since the needs of Developing Countries in fact cover all aspects of metrology.

4 The planning and internationalization period, 1968–1980

From 1968 it appeared that the OIML work should be reorganized with a view to better utilizing the human and financial resources that the Member States would allocate to this work, coping with the various needs expressed by countries or regions in the field of legal metrology, and diminishing as far as possible the technical conflicts that might exist with other international bodies, especially with ISO.

A complete restructuring of OIML technical bodies, including new working methods and a strict planning of the work was developed at the initiative mainly of the USSR (represented by Mr. Ermakov as CIML Member). This action, in which the Presidential Council and the BIML actively participated, resulted in decisions made by the Fourth OIML Conference (London, 1972), with an implementation over the period 1973–1974 (i.e. the time at which Mr. Costamagna retired as BIML Director). The new OIML work program, operated by a number of Pilot and Reporting Secretariats, represented a significant growth in the OIML activities which would have exceeded the current possibilities of the Organization without a significant growth in its membership (e.g. the USA in 1972) and in parallel a more active technical participation of certain Member States such as Australia and Japan. This also made OIML work more international and even if most Pilot and Reporting Secretariats continued to be under the responsibility of European Countries, their international working groups gradually became truly international.

In order to solve certain conflicts with other international scientific, technical and standardizing bodies as well as with certain regional bodies with legal metrology connected activities, the Fifth OIML Conference (Paris, 1976) which was attended by the Representatives of ten such international and regional bodies, encouraged the development of cooperative agreements which were then implemented (in a rather satisfactory manner) by both the BIML and the OIML Technical Secretariats, under the supervision of the Presidential Council and the CIML.

At the end of the second twelve-year period in the life of the OIML, i.e. at the time of its Sixth Conference (Washington D.C., 1980) the OIML included 46 Member States (two countries, Canada and the People’s Republic of China, attending this Conference as observers before joining the OIML as Member States) and 18 Corresponding Members. It had established liaisons with more than 50 international and regional bodies and had issued over 60 publications.

5 The globalization, deregulation and regionalization period, 1980–2000

During this period several economic, social and political aspects of our world deeply influenced the life of the OIML. The first symptoms appeared at the beginning of the eighties to become more and more obvious during the nineties. The so-called “globalization” of our world resulted in the obligation for international and regional bodies to increasingly coordinate their activities and carry out their tasks, bearing in mind what is done within other spheres. Much of this coordination is now conducted under the umbrella of the WTO, and especially its TBT Committee which gives the opportunity to ten or so international standard-setting organizations (including ISO, IEC, OIML, etc.) to explain their respective roles and demonstrate to WTO Members that the existing cooperation is effective. In parallel the OIML has developed a closer cooperation with the BIPM (a merger of the two intergovernmental metrology organizations being impossible for the time being) and with ILAC.

The last twenty years have also been an opportunity for many countries to reflect about the need for regulations, especially in technical fields. This evolution appeared clearly in countries which already had a market-oriented economy, and even more in countries moving from the planned to the market economy. Legal metrology is by definition a regulatory activity and it has been necessary to initiate actions with a view to demonstrating the economic and social role of legal metrology (in connection with that of metrology as a whole) in order to convince Governments that they should continue to support this activity at the national, regional and international levels. A first step was an International Seminar organized in Germany in 1998, with further actions being planned for 2002 or 2003. However, this deregulation tendency connected with economic difficulties in many countries resulted in a significant decrease in the financial resources allocated to national legal metrology services and therefore a decrease in the human resources available within the OIML technical bodies.

The third main aspect (from the point of view of the OIML) was the development of regional activity. This is not specific to legal metrology: scientific metrology, accreditation, standardization and many other activities are also the subject of closer regional cooperation. For the OIML, this resulted in the fact that the already decreasing human resources from Member States had to be shared with regional activities, with a tendency for many people to focus on regional work to the detriment of the international level.

In order to cope with these movements and to maintain worldwide OIML leadership in the field of legal metrology, several important decisions were made by the OIML Conferences in 1984 (Helsinki), 1988 (Sydney), 1992 (Athens), 1996 (Vancouver) and 2000 (London), and by the CIML which, under the chairmanship of Messrs. Birkeland (Norway) from 1980 through 1994, and Faber (The Netherlands) from 1994, met every year (it should be noted that, in response to the increasing rapidity of the events that affected our world, the periodicity of the OIML Conferences was reduced from 6 years to 4 years and that of CIML meetings from two or one and half years to one year).

These decisions mainly dealt with:

● the definition of a general long-term policy for OIML activities;

● as already mentioned, the participation in the organization, in cooperation with the BIPM, IMEKO and the German PTB, of an International Seminar on the economic and social role of metrology (Braunschweig, June 1998);

● the implementation of a study made by Mr. Birkeland concerning the orientations the OIML should follow, including the development of a medium-term Action Plan;

● a drastic revision of the OIML technical work program in order to focus on those work items which are considered as priority topics by a number of OIML Members or the study of which is requested by another international or regional body;

● a restructuring of OIML technical bodies (Technical Committees and Subcommittees) with new work methods (inspired from ISO/IEC rules) in order to introduce better efficiency, rapidity and flexibility in the work;

● a new layout for OIML Recommendations to be developed in terms of performance requirements and supplemented by test procedures and a format to report test results;

● the definition of new responsibilities for the Presidential Council, to better advise the CIML President and Vice-Presidents;

● a restructuring of the OIML Development Council;

● the establishment of a certification system (the OIML Certificate System for Measuring Instruments) through which certificates may be issued for types of instruments that meet the requirements specified in the relevant OIML Recommendations;

● a re-evaluation of the liaisons between the OIML and international and regional bodies, especially Regional Legal Metrology Organizations;

● the development of modern communication and information tools (OIML Bulletin, OIML web site, use of electronic communication means, etc.);

● the modernization of work facilities at the OIML headquarters, the International Bureau of Legal Metrology (BIML) the staff of which has remained at practically the same level (9 staff members in 1974, 10 in 2001) whereas its workload has considerably increased during the same period, with more publications, more liaisons with international and regional bodies, more Member States and Corresponding Members, and the quasi systematic use of English and French as working languages whereas only French was used up to the mid-seventies.

As at mid 2001, the OIML has 57 Member States, 51 Corresponding Members, liaisons with over 100 international and regional bodies; the number of publications amounts to more than 160 and that of issued certificates to more than 800.

6 At the dawn of the twenty-first century

The division of the life of an international body such as the OIML into well-identified periods of time is of course artificial – or at least subjective. There are however signals which show that the OIML could now enter a new period of its life with, beyond the necessary continuity, new developments in its role and its activities.

The extension of the certification system to cover initial verification of measuring instruments, the enforcement of mutual acceptance agreements of test results associated with OIML certificates, the international marking of prepacked products, evolutions in the cooperation between the OIML and international and regional bodies, an acceleration in the production of OIML technical publications and perhaps a new approach in their content, all these developments will probably change the OIML deeply during the next ten years.

At the end of September 2001, a new Director took over the responsibility of leading the BIML in such a way that the OIML will be able to follow the new directions defined by its Members, in order to contribute to better satisfying the needs of our society. ●

OIML B U L L E T I N VO L UME XL I I NUMB E R 4 OC T O B E R 2 0 0 1

Vehicle for the verification of truck scales

WOLFHARD GÖGGE and DETLEF SCHEIDT, Verification Authority of Rhineland-Palatinate, Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the 16 States of the Federal Republic of Germany (surface area about 20 000 km2 – population four million) has about 1 200 truck scales. This means that a large number of initial verifications and (at 3-yearly intervals) subsequent verifications have to be carried out. According to the corresponding European Union recommendations, the initial verification may be carried out by the manufacturer if a recognized quality management system is used, provided that the process is supervised by the Verification Authority.

Market surveillance, i.e. the question of how the truck scales will metrologically function over a long period of time, is carried out by the Verification Authority. One tool is subsequent verification every third year, using standard weights that have been tested by the Authority. However, the verification of truck scales requires the use of weights with large nominal values (between 100 kg and 1 000 kg) and in order to move such heavy weights, auxiliary equipment has to be installed on the truck.

In principle it is imaginable that platform weighing machines may be tested without weights using hydraulic load installations, though up to now nobody has developed such a system. Nowadays almost all balances are provided with electronic equipment that can be tested relatively easily in the Verification Authority laboratory. However, this cannot substitute a complete check with standard weights at the site of a truck scale. This means that for truck scales to be verified, weights will still have to be transported, moved and loaded on site in the future.

This article concerns a Rhineland-Palatinate Verification Authority vehicle that has been in service for some years (see article in the OIML Bulletin No. 114, March 1989) and which was completely modified about two years ago; meanwhile much experience has been gathered with this new verification vehicle. A normal truck can be used for the construction of a verification vehicle, but with the following special features incorporated:

• Small distance between axles, so that high loads can be moved even onto small weighbridges;

• High-powered engine, so that the vehicle can be driven on public roads without slowing down other traffic (despite its heavy weight);

• Remote-controlled hydraulic crane;

• Supports that can be raised by hydraulic jacks for safe operation of the crane;

• Additional hydraulic supports for lifting up the truck’s front axle, so that the necessary weights can be loaded even on very short weighbridges;

• The ratio of the standard weights compared to the weight of the truck when empty should be about 1:1. In this case the application of the substitution method according to OIML Recommendation R 76 is simple; and

• Removable top cover for easy unloading of the weights. For the verification vehicle in question (Fig. 1) all these aspects have been taken into account and therefore:

Verification vehicle. On the tractor: 25 rolling weights (500 kg each); on the trailer: 15 t block weights, forklift and passenger car

Fig. 1 Verification vehicle. On the tractor: 25 rolling weights (500 kg each);

on the trailer: 15 t block weights, forklift and passenger car

• The distance between axles is 4.55 m. Additional hydraulic supports are mounted behind the front wheels to lift up the front axle (Fig. 2);

Additional hydraulic support for lifting up the front axle
High Denominational Weights

Fig. 2 Additional hydraulic support for lifting up the front axle

• Engine power is 368 kW (500 bhp); and

• Maximum crane load (depending on the working radius) is between 1.6 t and 0.5 t for 3.6 m up to 8 m (Fig. 3)

Unloading two rolling weights using a remote-controlled crane
High Denominational Weights

Fig. 3 Unloading two rolling weights using a remote-controlled crane

Trailer: block weights beneath the passenger car and to the right and left of the forklift, which is standing on the loading area
High Denominational Weights

Fig. 4 Trailer: block weights beneath the passenger car and to the right and left of the forklift, which is standing on the loading area

The crane is operated by remote control, and the truck is equipped with supports which can be hydraulically drawn out when the crane is operating; the handling platform is equipped with an awning.

The loading area of the truck serves for the transport of weights of 12.5 t in the form of 500 kg cylindrical weights. The empty weight of the truck is also 12.5 t, therefore the maximum weight is 25 t.

In order to be able to perform the testing procedure as prescribed, the necessary rolling weights have to be manipulated on the bridge without the use of any mechanical device after they have been unloaded using the crane. However, it transpired that there are not enough auxiliary personnel able to move the heavy weights and that the latter involve a high accident risk when they start rolling unintentionally (in Germany two people were killed by rolling weights).

The former truck scales verification equipment was equipped with rolling weights only. To counter the aforementioned problems, the trailer has been modified to cater for the safe handling of rolling weights. However, the tractor itself is still equipped with rolling weights just in case this facility is required under special circumstances.

The trailer was custom-designed so that it can also be used for the verification of small weighbridges; for this purpose supports are mounted on the trailer directly behind the front axle so that the trailer fits on a weighbridge of 4.10 m in length. The trailer has a total weight of 30 t, of which 15 t are standard block weights of 200 kg, 500 kg and 1 000 kg (Fig. 4). Because of the supports on the tractor and trailer it is possible to verify weighbridges even with very short platforms, i.e. a total load of 55 t (Fig. 5) on a weighbridge of length 8.80 m and a load of 44 t on a weighbridge of length 5 m.

Rear view of the trailer
H D Weights

Fig. 5 Rear view of the trailer

Using block weights reduces the risk of accidents, but on the other hand the disadvantage is that they cannot be moved manually so this is done by a forklift with a loading capacity of 3 t. The forklift is used for loading and unloading the trailer (Fig. 6) as well as for positioning and removing weights on particular spots of the weighbridge according to the verification officer’s instructions (Fig. 7).

Unloading a 1 t block weight
High Denominational Weights

Fig. 6 Unloading a 1 t block weight

The forklift is stored along with the trailer and is operated by the driver of the verification vehicle – therefore external auxiliary personnel for moving the weights are no longer necessary.

Moving standard weights to special spots on the weighbridge
Standard Weights

Fig. 7 Moving standard weights to special spots on the weighbridge

When work with the forklift is finished, it is put back on the trailer using two ramp rails which can be moved up and down hydraulically. Since the forklift cannot mount such a steep ramp by itself, it is pulled up by an electric winch (Fig. 8). The remote control for this winch is operated by the driver of the forklift.

Forklift pulled up by a winch
H D Weights

Fig. 8 Forklift pulled up by a winch

On a rack above the block weights there is also space to store a small car (Fig. 4). This has the advantage that the verification vehicle, which due to its exceptionally high load of 55 t is only allowed to use public roads with special authorization, can directly drive from one operation to the next. For all other trips – for example to a verification office or back home – the driver uses this car. Consequently the verification vehicle itself is only used when absolutely necessary.

Car driving up
H D Weights

Fig. 9 Car driving up

Car in its final position on the trailer (beneath the car, winch for pulling up the forklift
Standard Weights

Fig. 10 Car in its final position on the trailer (beneath the car, winch for pulling up the forklift)

The car has to be small enough to fit on the trailer, and since most of the time it is only used by one person, this does not pose a problem. The car in question is a Fiat Cinquecento with 40 kW (55 bhp) which is able to mount the two ramp rails (Figs. 9 and 10).

If necessary, the driver may spend the night in the driver’s cab, which is quite comfortable. He can be reached at any time using a mobile phone.

The cylindrical and block weights on these vehicles are all standard weights and are tested and adjusted every six months by the Verification Authority. As permissible tolerances, the mpe in accordance with OIML R 47 is applied.

The running costs for the verification vehicle are 1 180 DM per day. If this is considered too high, the weights may be picked up at the Verification Office by the truck scale owner, who must ensure that he is equipped with a forklift, a crane and, of course, a truck to transport the weights. He must also use his own personnel to move and place them, and must later return them to the Verification Office.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Authority verification vehicle is fully booked throughout the year, except when repairs and maintenance work have to be carried out. The percentage of annual utilization is actually greater than 100 % since weighbridges are not only verified on weekdays but also on some weekends (on 23 Saturdays and Sundays in 1998). Weekend operation can be necessary because some companies cannot put their weighing instruments out of operation for a long time for maintenance and verification (on average 1.5 days) during the week. Therefore, they prefer to pay an extra charge for the weekend service.

A verification vehicle costs about 680 000 DM to purchase; annual income is about 290 000 DM less operating costs but including maintenance costs. This means that the vehicle costs are depreciated after approximately 8 years.

The verification vehicle (including the driver) is selffinancing – financial support is only necessary from the government for the initial capital – therefore outright purchasing is highly recommended.

The verification vehicle is also occasionally used for testing truck scales during the 3-year period. This is a chance to study the metrological behavior of road vehicle weighers during this period until the next subsequent verification is due.

Private companies own similar vehicles for testing truck scales and it is up to the owner of the truck scale whether he uses a privately operated vehicle or if he prefers the Verification Office one, but the periodical reverification itself is always carried out by an inspector of the Verification Authority.

For your requirements of High Denominational Standard Weights, you may contact:

https://www.weights-swpi.com/contact/

Magazine: “Weights & The Society” Volume: 06 & Issue No.: 1

Logo of SWPI    Magazine: Weights & The Society (Volume: 06  & Issue No.: 1)High Denominational Weights

           Published by Shanker Wire Products Industries

 

                                             

                                     GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS OF METRIC SYSTEM IN INDIA

“Legal Metrology – Achievements of India and what it can offer to others.”

Article by:

Sri P.A Krishnamurthy,

Former Director, Legal Metrology,

Government of India.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION:

The field of ‘Legal Metrology’ or Weights and Measures’ as is known in the common parlance, is the field where measurements are regulated by Government laws for the benefit of all stakeholders. The main object of such regulation is to ensure standardized procedures for calibration acceptable to all stakeholders, transparency in the whole procedure, and accountability of the measurement results. Continue reading “Magazine: “Weights & The Society” Volume: 06 & Issue No.: 1″