SIRDC-NMI Attains a Double in Accreditation and International Recognition

The Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centreӳ-National Metrology Institute (SIRDC-NMI) Mass Laboratory, was accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) in accordance with the recognized International Standard, ISO/IEC 17025:2005 on 05 October 2011.

Two more laboratories, namely Dimensional and Temperature were later accredited under the SADC Accreditation Service (SADCAS)/SANAS Twining Partnership Programme on 15 March 2012 , with the Volume Laboratory being accredited under the same Programme on 16 May 2012.

The Centreӳ NMI, has been, in the past few years, working towards the attainment of such a prestigious status which is a formal recogniton of the laboratory to carry out specific tasks competently.

On 14 September 2010, Zimbabwe, through SIRDC-NMI became an Associate Member to the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM). The CGPM is the Secretariat of the Metre Convention, which benchmarks the International System of Measurements Standards, through the scientific work of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

A rigorous peer review process of its technical competence in various fields of metrology and the successful implementation of a solid quality management system based on ISO/IEC 17025:2005 were the cornerstones for SIRDC-NMIӳ membership acceptance.

SIRDC-NMI also became a signatory to the International Committee for Weights and Measures-Mutual Recognition Arrangement (CIPM-MRA), which recognizes Measurement Standards used by SIRDC-NMI as National Measurement Standards. Under the CIPM-MRA, Calibration and Measurement Certificates issued by the SIRDC-NMI are recognized by all signatories to the Arrangement.

Metrology which is the science and practice of precision measurement is a critical necessity for the production of quality products in the manufacturing industry, the testing and inspection of products and services and maintaining safety and health standards.

In this regard, the NMI of SIRDC serves as Zimbabweӳ focal point in all fields of measurement such as Electrical, Mass and Volume, Mechanical, Force, Pressure, Heat, Time and Frequency, Radiology and Chemistry. Zimbabweӳ industry and commerce have over the years benefited from services provided by the Institute.

The NMI services range from calibration, training in metrology, consultancy in setting up of Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14000, ISO/IEC 17025, etc.) for calibration and testing departments in industry, installation and commissioning of measuring equipment.

The NMI also develops testing processes and equipment capable of higher precision and more accurate measurement, with the objective of transferring this technology to Quality Assurance departments in industry and testing laboratories performing various types of measurements.

Some of the benefits of Accreditation

It represents quality: Organizations and companies look for ways to communicate their commitment to excellence. In the scientific community, International accreditation shows that an institution is serious about setting, achieving and maintaining high standards. NMI International Accreditation offers the only international accreditation for calibration Laboratories in Zimbabwe and it has become recognized around the world as a sign of quality and good science.

It promotes scientific validity: When research is done, reliable scientific results depend on calibration results from an accredited calibration laboratory. So accreditation of NMI means better research practices and outcomes.

It provides assurance in a global marketplace: Today itӳ common for research institutions to partner or contract with other research entities around the world. Laws and regulations related to measurements research vary widely from country to country, International accreditation can be used worldwide as a way to gauge the quality of a particular program, harmonize measurement practices, and provide assurance to diverse stakeholders.

It is a recruiting tool: Internationally accredited institutions can use their accreditation as a recruiting tool to attract the best and brightest researchers and professors. Talented professionals look for high quality organisational systems and programmes to support their research. Accreditation assures potential employees that the institution is dedicated to achieving the highest standards for measurements.

It demonstrates accountability: In todayӳ world, companies and organizations are held to very high levels of accountability - by their own constituents and the general public. Accreditation is voluntary and demonstrates a willingness to go above and beyond the minimums required by law. It tells the public that the institution is committed to their measurement practices.

It provides a confidential peer-review: Accreditation requires an institution to first perform its own self-evaluation (an extremely valuable exercise for any institution to undertake). After that, a team of highly qualified assessors provides an in-depth, confidential, on-site evaluation of the institutionӳ quality system. This independent peer-review ensures that the institutionӳ program is meeting International standards.

It stimulates continuous improvement: When an institution participates in an accreditation program, it is committing to a process that stimulates continuous improvement. Earning and maintaining accreditation keeps an institution aware of, and engaged in, current best practices. Accreditation is a true commitment to measurement practices and shows the world that an institution is serious about ensuring best measurement practices and conducting good science.

Risk reduction: The achievement of excellence via competence reduces the likelihood of risk.

Advice and development: The accrediting body is a source of impartial advice and knowledge transfer which may, in turn, lead to development opportunities.

Due diligence: Using an established accrediting bodies to carry out an independent evaluation helps to demonstrate due diligence.

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