2010 has arrived the year South Africa has been waiting for as it brings the FIFA World
Cup 2010 to our soil. As the construction of the stadiums for the football games are nearing
completion, new road infrastructure opens up, hospitality and food services receive
accreditation, and compliance to safety regulations are ensured, we as a nation look back
with pride on what has been achieved and what we will be offering the world in June.
The NMISA is just as excited about 2010 and specifically the FIFA World Cup 2010. As
keeper of the national measurement standards, the NMISA is the foundation of all accurate
measurement in South Africa, and primarily ensures that the South African measurement
standards and units are internationally comparable and scientifically valid. In terms of the
football, the NMISAs reach will be supporting all aspects of accurate measurement, from the
pressure of the football to optimising the lighting in the stadium to ensuring that the
timekeeping is accurate.
But going beyond the football excitement, the NMISA works closely with the dti and other
government departments to improve the competitiveness of the South African industry in
support of national strategic goals. The dti summarised their response to the Industrial
Policy Framework in the Industrial Policy Action Programme (IPAP) in 2007, and a revised
version is currently before cabinet for approval. The revised IPAP seeks to deepen South
Africa's manufacturing base, and to stretch further to address challenges in other sectors.
The NMISAs strategy is thus well aligned with the IPAPs objectives as metrology is crucial
for the manufacturing industry, mining, aviation, construction and energy sectors, and
increasingly underpins food safety, waste management and environmental monitoring.
The NMISA is looking forward to an action packed 2010, where our activities will support
each and every South African, as well as the countrys wellbeing.
The National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA) is responsible for realising,
maintaining and disseminating the SI units and to maintain and develop primary scientific
standards of physical quantities for SA and compare those standards with other national
standards to ensure global measurement equivalence. It must also provide reference
analysis in the case of a measurement dispute and maintain and develop primary
methods for chemical analysis to certify reference materials for SA and the region.
The SI unit for mass, the kilogram, underpins virtually all our trade. It is also the foundation
for all chemical measurements (as the definition of the mole refers to mass) and is part of an
endless number of derived units that have applications in all sectors of life. As part of the
maintenance of the national measurement standards (NMS), and with the vision to improve
the mass laboratorys classification from E2 to E1 (the highest class of accuracy of weights),
the NMISA installed a new mass comparator in January 2010 to disseminate the national
kilogram. This higher accuracy class will benefit South Africas trade positively in the long
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The new 1 kg comparator is fully automated with a four-position weight handler. It has a readability
of within 1 microgram and a repeatability of within 2 micrograms. During the commissioning phase,
the comparator performed well within these specifications.
The Asia Pacific Metrology Programme (APMP), the regional metrology organisation (RMO)
of the Asia Pacific region, is primarily responsible for developing international recognition of
the measurement capabilities (CMCs) of the regions national and territorial measurement
laboratories as part of the International Committee of Weights and Measures Mutual
Recognition Arrangement (CIPM MRA). Part of this arrangement to prove equivalence is to
participate in comparisons between the National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) in the region.
Before the establishment of the RMO for Africa, the Intra-Africa Metrology System
(AFRIMETS), the NMISA joined APMP as an associate member so that we could participate
in comparisons between NMIs in this region, and have South Africas Calibration and
Measurement Capabilities (CMC) vetted by APMP, thus fulfilling this requirement of the
CIPM MRA. South Africa still maintains the close liaison and associate member status with
APMP while the AFRIMETS technical structures and competencies are being developed.
Delegates from the NMISA thus attend the yearly meetings of APMP.
Apart from the technical meetings where the comparisons of measuring standards are the
main topics, the general assembly and developing economy committee (DEC) was also
attended. The DEC's principal objective is to help address the needs of APMP member
NMIs from developing economies, and to oversee and coordinate associated work programs
similar to those in AFRIMETS and the sub-regional metrology organisation for SADC,
SADCMET. Mr Donald Masuku made a presentation to the DEC and shared the experiences
of capacity building programmes under a SADC EU project and the challenges faced by
AFRIMETS members, most of which are developing economies. The DEC resolved to work
closely with AFRIMETS in sharing experiences which will help improve the functioning and
implementation of the capacity building programmes offered to developing economies.
2010 kicked off with a number of employees joining the NMISA.
Corne Gouws was a NMISA bursar at North West University (Potchefstroom campus) and
obtained his B.Eng (Mechanical) at the end of 2009. He joined the Force laboratory (Mechanical
Refiloe Moganedi has joined the Dimensional laboratory (Mechanical Metrology. Refiloe holds
a National diploma in electrical (light current) engineering and completeda nation trade in
Pieter Greef joined the Dimensional laboratory (Mechanical Metrology).He was also a NMISA
bursar at the University of Stellenbosch and recently successful defended his M.Eng. (Megatronics).
He was also a NMISA bursar at the University of Stellenbosch and recently successful defended
his M.Eng. (Megatronics).
HR welcomes Violet Makhubele, who will be assisting until the end of April 2010. Violet worked
in HR for the past 5 years and has a passion for training and development
As part of the NRF-dti Internship programme, the NMISA welcomes Pinkie Sebata to the Ionising Radiation
laboratory. Pinkie will spend one year at the NMISA on the program that aims to equip young graduates
with practical experience to join the workforce. Pinkie is a University of Pretoria
graduate and holds a B.Sc.
Dr Adriaan van Brakel joined the NMISAs fibre optics group (Electromagnetic Metrology) from
his previous position as a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Johannesburgs
Photonics Research Group. Adriaan holds a D. Ing from the Rand Afrikaans University (presently
the University of Johannesburg). In 2004 he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue a
Ph.D at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton in the UK, where he
investigated microstructured optical fibres for use in gas absorption sensors.
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The NMISAs Organic Metrology group hosted Mr Jack Cochran, the Director of New Business with Restek
Corporation, Bellefonte, PA, USA, in December 2009 for collaborative research. Jack is a chromatography specialist
in the fields of environmental and food chemistry and has been working in collaboration with various
chromatographers in SA for a number of years, including the NMISA. Chromatography is an analytical separation
technique used extensively in chemical analyses, both for routine analysis as well as higher order measurement
research in the analysis of multi-component organic solutions and complex matrices, as is utilised in the
NMISAs Metrology in Chemistry laboratories.
The objectives of this visit to the NMISA were twofold. First he demonstrated to the NMISA
organic chemists how to survey pesticides in local fruits and vegetables using QuEChERS
(Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe -for more, see http://www.restek.com/blog/).
The other aspect that was addressed during Jacks visit is the
value assignment of purity to raw materials using on-column injection techniques. The complexity
of the determination of purity in the analysis of many chemical and pharmaceutical compounds can
be quite challenging in efforts to minimise sample losses while identifying and quantifying the
During his visit, Jack also hosted training seminars for ChromSA (the Chromatographic
division of the South African Chemical Institute, SACI) on QuEChERS sample
preparation. The training seminars were prompted by previous discussions on whether
QuEChERS could be applied for my sample type and analytes, e.g., crocodile eyeballs
that were analysed as part of the investigation into the reason for the high crocodile
mortalities in the Olifants River gorge in the Kruger National Park.