Friday, May 20, 2016

TBS to educate the public on the importance of measurements

AS Tanzania joins other countries today to mark the World Metrology Day today, the Metrology Laboratory at the national standards watchdog, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), is faced with the challenge of having state-of-the-art equipment to cope with technological advances. The Metrology Laboratory has been given the statutory responsibility for establishing custody and maintenance of the National Measurement Standards related to all physical parameters, at internationally accepted level of accuracy and to disseminate the SI Units of measurement by providing traceability to the public via the National Measurement Standards. The laboratory undertakes apex level calibration of measurement standards and precision instruments in various fields of measurements such as length, mass, temperature, Time Intervals, volume (including vertical and horizontal bulk storage tanks), pressure, electrical measurements in DC/AC Voltage (at low Frequency), Current and Resistance. TBS acting head of the Metrology Laboratory, Vida Rusimbi, says the World Metrology Day is a special occasion to commemorate the signing of the Metre Convention, which took place in Paris, France, on May 20, 1875. The Metre Convention advocates for adherence to the International System of Units (SI units) of which the TBS Metrology Laboratory is the custodian of National Measurement Standards. The establishment of the Custodian of National Measurement Standards aims at ensuring accuracy and traceability of all measurements in the country. With technological advances, TBS needs support to cope with the challenges of changing technological equipment in telecommunication, power and energy as far as calibration is concerned. Rusimbi urges manufacturers to take their equipment for calibration at the laboratory entrusted with the statutory responsibility for supervision and maintenance of the National Measurement Standards. “When a person measures the length of a piece of cloth in Tanzania and finds it to be one metre, the same cloth should also measure one metre when measured in another laboratory in the United Kingdom or France,” she says. In that sense, a 20 degree Centigrade temperature measured in Tanzania should be the same when measured in the United Kingdom or any other country; and one kilogramme should be the same throughout the world,” Rusimbi says. “We can only ensure that our measurements are compatible with measurements in other countries if we calibrate our measuring implements at the TBS Metrology Laboratory,” says a senior metrologist, Alphone Kagoma. “Wrong measurements have very negative effects. That is why we are compelled to sensitise the public in general and the industrialists in particular, on the importance of ensuring use of right measurements,” he explains. He added: “Suppose you go to a hospital to check your body temperature and you are wrongly told that it is at 42 degrees Centigrade. This means the doctor will give you wrong prescriptions. You check the pressure and you are given wrong readings. You measure your weight and you get wrong readings. You measure carbon monoxide emission from a vehicle and you get wrong readings.” Government’s decision to establish the TBS Metrology Laboratory as the Custodian of National Measurement Standards is part of its efforts to ensure that Tanzanians use appropriate measurements. The Metrology Laboratory is already accredited to ISO 17025 general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories since December 15, 2006. This is the first laboratory in Tanzania to reach such a step. This means the laboratory is capable to issue test reports which are recognised throughout the world. “There is a need for the general public to utilise the services of this laboratory. Even when one goes to hospital you can ask, ‘Is this thermometer/pressure gauge calibrated by TBS?’ Kagoma says. A time and frequency metrologist, Ramadhani Mfaume, lays emphasis on the need for calibration for trade development since measurements accredited by the laboratory will be accepted anywhere. “There has been a good response for industrialists, manufacturers and hospitals who test their measurement before using them, thus creating harmonisation when it comes to calibration,” he says. Adam Ziagi, a specialist on temperature and pressure is positive on how hospitals have now been taking equipment for measurement, which he said will bring harmonisation in the end results. “All referral hospitals in the country have their equipment tested on measurement, which is very important, since patients will be assured of proper results and treatment,” explains Ziagi. Apart challenges in technological aspects, Rusimbi says despite the fact that “we are now well staffed, we are spending a lot of financial resources to follow customers upcountry.” She is, however, optimistic that with the establishment of zonal offices, TBS is likely to serve customers without any delays. “There is need for all interested parties to test their measurement for customer assurance of quality services.”

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