Units, NMS and Measurement Capabilities
The International System of Units (SI) defines the system of measurement globally and for a country to be connected to the International Measurement System, it must adhere to and apply the SI. The 7 base units of the SI (kilogram, metre, kelvin, ampere, candela, mole and second) each has a definition of how to realise the unit in a primary way and thus to establish a National Measurement Standard directly traceable to the SI. The International General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) has approved a plan to redefine four of the seven base units (kilogram, kelvin, ampere, mole) of the SI in terms of fixed values of natural constants. The initiative would make possible new worldwide levels of consistency and accuracy, simplify and normalise the unit definitions, and liberate the system from dependence on the International Prototype Kilogram (the IPK) as the unit for mass.
The revised formal definitions of the SI base units are expected to come into force on May 20, 2019. The International definition of the kilogram has not changed since 1889. The kilogram (unit of mass) is defined as the mass of a Pt-Ir alloy cylinder (the IPK) that is kept at the BIPM in Paris. When a country signs the Metre Convention and becomes a member of the BIPM, it procures a copy of the IPK. All mass measurements done under the SI are traceable through the copy to the IPK. The revised definition of the kilogram will be in terms of Planck’s constant. Two approaches have been adopted to obtain this value, one is to use an electro-mechanical device called a Kibble (Watt) balance, and the other is to derive the constant from Avogadro’s number, by counting the number of silicon atoms in a silicon sphere. NMISA is developing both technologies as the Avogadro project will also provide a primary standard for amount of substance (mole). For the Kibble (Watt) balance, a collaboration has been entered into with the National Research Laboratory (NPL) of the UK to fast-track the development of working Kibble (Watt) balance at NMISA by end of the financial year 2020/21. For the Avogadro, NMISA is collaborating with PTB of Germany, INRIM of Italy and DEFNAT of Tunisia.
Three other units are also redefined at the same time with their realisations being modernised, the ampere, kelvin and mole. NMISA will also update its realisation of the ampere and kelvin with a primary gas thermometer (developed with NMIJ of Japan) and the determination of the electron charge (developed with UCT, NPL and NIST). The maintenance and dissemination part of the programme entails the continued maintenance of the systems for the realisation of the base units, and the proper dissemination to the Region and Nationally. The programme thus is the fundamental, technical basis of most capabilities of NMISA.
Quality of Life
The Quality of Life programme works at bringing measurement solutions for health, safety, industry and the regulatory bodies. This is done through calibration, specialised measurement solutions, testing for medical, NMISA Strategic Plan 2019/24 19 health and safety, and law enforcement. The strategic direction will be to focus on initiatives dealing with measurement solutions and measurement traceability in cancer care, primary health care, pharmacology, health and safety and maternal health care for the country.
This will include testing of medical devices, rolling out of a National Audit programme in radiotherapy and other medical devices. Traceability for microbiological testing required for the country will be looked at, and capabilities already available in the country will be considered to decide on whether to establish NMISA capabilities or designate another Government Entity or Department that already has capabilities so that they can service the country.
The programme supports food and feed safety, paramount for the development of South Africa and Africa. The African Union (AU) acknowledged the challenge in the Maputo declaration of 2003 on Agriculture and Food safety, as reaffirmed in the Malabo Declaration of 2014 on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. New foods produced will inevitably follow with the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the removal of customs, new foods produced would need nutritional content and safety confirmed for internal trading. It is imperative that NMISA can support food and feed quality to not only safeguard its population against unsafe imports and produce but also to retain and open markets for its products and to ensure competitiveness globally. NMISA’s Reference Material Production Facility will provide fit-for-purpose Africa relevant matrix reference materials, calibration solutions and PTs that will address the challenges associated with industry needs and to facilitate Intra-regional trade. An intensive stakeholder engagement with the food testing laboratories in South Africa, indicated a clear need for traceability in food contaminants, residues, additives and labelling. There is a need for import replacements for reference materials used in not only South Africa, but Africa as a whole.
By replacing 10% of the imported food labelling reference materials over a three-year period, growing it to 40% in 6 to 8 years, will uplift the welfare of African consumers. NMISA, in partnership with NMI's, stakeholders and universities, is building a Food Safety Training and Testing laboratory. Countries cannot import/ export if they cannot demonstrate that their product meets the minimum safety requirements for food quality and consumer safety. The training facility will allow South Africa to achieve method alignment and harmonisation in analytical measurement to ensure accurate testing of food and commodities and provide the necessary training needed by young scientists who are performing these measurements in their laboratories.
The Green Economy programme focuses on the reference measurements required in support of reference material production and environmental, industrial, and applied monitoring as well as the development of alternative technologies to support the production of reference materials, certified reference materials, quality control standards and the maintenance of reference measurements and Proficiency Testing Schemes (PTS) offered to industry. NMISA continues to develop and improve Primary Reference Gas Mixtures (PRGMs) for air pollution monitoring. NMISA collaborates with universities, research institutions and industry, and offers advanced materials measurement services to diverse industries such as additive manufacturing, metals/alloy beneficiation and processing, packaging, electronics, and advanced material research. Some of the key projects include the design and fabrication of cost effective solar cell devices. These devices will prove to be beneficial to the country, as it will be used in rural areas to generate electricity, using only the sun’s energy to power the device.
The NMISA Energy Efficient Solutions (EES) programme was identified from National Government needs and priorities, particularly those related to reducing the National energy consumption. In support of IPAP, EES develops and promotes measurement capabilities that enable the efficient usage and saving of electrical energy. Specific projects include metrology for Smart Grids, improved measurement standards for power and energy, a calibration facility for light emitting diodes and the development of nano-wire based photovoltaics.
The programme focuses on metrology services for the manufacturing industry. The target market, the broader manufacturing industry, was identified from the dti Annual Report, the dti APP, IPAP and industry interaction. The programme supports all manufacturing, but specifically assists the areas of the manufacturing industry which has the largest markets: Automotive and especially component manufacturing, Rail transport and the building of locomotives and coaches, 20 NMISA Strategic Plan 2019/24 • Metal beneficiation and fabrication, • Ship and boat building, and • Advanced manufacturing (including advanced material manufacturing in aerospace and defence). New areas to be addressed by the programme includes, diagnostics and measurement standards for additive manufacturing and nano-manufacturing.
Advanced Measurement Solutions
Metrology applications in industry increasingly demand ultra-high accuracy and sophisticated designs while keeping costs at a minimum. The common drivers of current demands include miniaturisation, high volume and increased accuracy. Recent scientific advancements in the field of metrology provide accurate, fit-for-purpose, yet cost-effective solutions. The Advanced Measurement Solutions programme finds new and innovative solutions to existing measurement problems experienced by clients. It comprises projects delivering new realisation solutions for reference time, gas flow and pressure measurements, amongst others. Systems design engineering principles are embedded in the development processes. The main current activity is accurate time measurement for the SKA, and the application of structured light technology to accurate thin film or layer analysis, chirality measurements for reference materials and time-transfer through air.
Regional and International Integration
There is a continued drive and focus to support the Regional Integration goals of IPAP, and to position NMISA appropriately in the Regional and International arena. Other focus areas, include the development of new business through consultancy to NMIs in Africa and assistance to SMEs with the potential to export. Further, targeted assistance will be given to rural SMEs with basic training in metrology. Co-operation with the metrology institutes of the BRIC countries are being improved on issues of joint concern, such as to provide accurate measurement for biofuels, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing. Specific metrology development projects with other NMIs in the Region include assistance to Intra-regional trade and support to the AfCFTA. This also includes a special focus on assistance to exporters to negate technical barriers to trade with main trading partners, both Regionally and Internationally. Activities in support of SADC and SADCMET, Africa and AFRIMETS and the CIPM MRA such as attendance of meetings, training, benchmarking of NMISA capabilities against other countries and organising of comparison of National measurement Measurement Standards of Regional NMIs will continue, but there is a special focus to leverage the NMISA position in these structures to increase impact and revenue. Research collaborations with universities and research institutions (including the top NMIs), in support of the research programmes and especially the redefinition of the SI, is high on the agenda. It also provides the basis for NMISA to access more funding from the NRF and DST for research. NMISA assisted DST with the development of a roadmap for Materials Characterisation as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap. DST has allocated R15 million for 2019/20 to establish a node to manage the project and NMISA is proposing to host the facility.
All NMS maintenance and product development are captured under the various research programmes. Once the product has matured and is ready to be offered to industry as a service, the projects are captured under the Commercial Services programme. These projects then include dissemination services associated with traceability to the NMS that generate revenue. In cases where industry is not able to provide a measurement service or calibration, this service is then offered by NMISA (pending resources and affordability). If a measurement service is not routine and includes innovation or advanced interpretation, the service is captured under the Research programmes for development until such service can be offered to industry.