Learn more about National Metrology of South Africa by going through the frequently asked questions
Yes. The NMISA is classified as a Type 3a public entity under the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The NMISA is governed by a board. The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) funds most of the activities of the NMISA and is the largest stakeholder of the NMISA.
Metrology is the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology. The word comes from the Greek metron + logos, that literally translated means to measure and study, calculate or reason. Wrong or inaccurate measurements can lead to wrong decisions, which can have serious consequences, costing money and even lives.
It is important therefore to have reliable and accurate measurements which are agreed and accepted by the relevant authorities worldwide. Metrologists are therefore continuously involved in the development of new measurement techniques, instrumentation and procedures, to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for greater accuracy, increased reliability and rapidity of measurements.
Scientific or fundamental metrology is the establishment of quantity systems, units of measurement, the development of new measurement methods, realisation of measurement standards and the transfer of traceability from these standards to users in society. For more information, read Applied, technical or industrial metrology concerns the application of measurement science to manufacturing and other processes, ensuring the suitability of measurement instruments, their calibration and in general quality control of measurements.
The traceability of the measurement devices to the measurement standards established and maintained through scientific metrology is necessary to ensure confidence in measurements. For more information read Legal metrology is the term where measurements, measurement instruments and methods of measurement are applied in fulfilment of statutory (legal) requirements. Examples are where health, public safety, the environment or consumers must be protected and to ensure fair trade. The requirements are enacted in Acts, Regulations or Compulsory specifications. For more information read.
Metrological traceability is where a measurement result can be related to a reference through a documented unbroken chain of calibrations (each contributing to the measurement uncertainty). An example is where a mass working standard in an industrial measurement laboratory is traceable to the International Prototype of the Kilogram (IPK) if the working standard has a certificate of calibration to a mass standard at a calibration laboratory, the mass standard has a certificate of calibration to the transfer standard at the NMISA, the transfer standard has a certificate of calibration to copy no. 56 of the IPK that is held at the NMISA (the National Measurements Standard for South Africa) and copy no. 56 has a certificate of calibration to the IPK.
The main purpose of the NMISA is to help South Africa to trade across borders. The NMISA has the mandate from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) to develop, maintain and disseminate national measurement standards (NMS) that realises the SI units (International System of Units) for the country.
Our NMS are linked to the SI units and have been compared to the NMS of our trading partners and other countries across the world. If South Africa did not have these NMS we would not be able to perform accurate measurements, we would not be able to do research and be as innovative as we are. We would not be able to trade for all the goods we cannot manufacture ourselves. We would also not be able to grow our economy and protect South Africans against products that are harmful or substandard.
The measurement results produced by the NMISA are based on the national measurement standards (NMS) that are linked to the SI units (International System of Units). Our NMS are compared on a regular basis to the NMS of our trading partners and the national metrology institutes (NMIs) or other countries all over the world through large scale international interlaboratory comparison studies.
Most of the laboratories of the NMISA are also accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, an international standard for the third-party evaluation of the technical competence of calibration and testing laboratories by SANAS (the South African National Accreditation System). Two of the laboratories in the Chemistry division produces certified reference materials and are also accredited to ISO Guide 34 for this activity.
Most of the laboratories of the NMISA are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 by SANAS (the South African National Accreditation System). Two of the laboratories in the Chemistry division produces certified reference materials and are also accredited to ISO Guide 34 for this activity.
In terms of the new Legal Metrology Act the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (the NRCS) will be responsible for the verification and inspection of measuring instruments, such as weighing scales, the volume dispensed by a petrol pump, etc. The contact details of the NRCS can be found here.
The NMISA is responsible for scientific metrology, i.e. the national measurement standards (NMS) linked to the SI units (International System of units) that are used to perform measurements at every level of society in South Africa. These measurements range from the research being performed at institutes such as universities, the CSIR, MINTEK, the Council for Geoscience, the Medical Research Council, etc. right through to the measurements being performed in a factory that produces motor vehicles or packages food or a shop such as a butchery or bakery.
Most of the laboratories of the NMISA are also accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, an international standard for the third-party evaluation of the technical competence of calibration and testing laboratories by SANAS (the South African National Accreditation System). Two of the laboratories in the Chemistry division produces certified reference materials and are also accredited to ISO Guide 34 for this activity. The SABS is responsible for the development of documentary standards that sets the requirements for the products that will be manufactured in South Africa and allowed into the South African market. Most of these documentary standards require measurements to be performed. For this purpose the SABS also has testing laboratories that can perform the some of the tests that are required to make sure that the products in our market conforms to the standards. The reference standards used by the SABS to perform the tests in the testing laboratories are usually linked to the NMS maintained by the NMISA.
You can contact the NMISA Calibration Office. Contact Details are as follows. Calibration Office : +27 12 841 2102 Email enquiries: email@example.com