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CMCs: getting them 'right first time'

The BIPM welcomed 24 participants from 20 countries who successfully completed the 2017 "Sound beginning in the CIPM MRA"; capacity building course.  The two-week course, organized by the BIPM and sponsored by NIST, was held from 13-24 November in Sèvres (France) with expert lecturers drawn from leading NMIs across the world and the BIPM. Candidates were selected from National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) that are new to, or inexperienced in, the CIPM MRA processes. The knowledge that the participants gained will accelerate the international recognition of their NMI's calibration and measurement capabilities (CMCs), and ease the international review burden.

The "Sound beginning in the CIPM MRA" course was organized under the BIPM CB&KT banner specifically to advance the ‘right first time’ philosophy to participation in the CIPM Mutual Recognition Arrangement  (CIPM MRA). Internationally accepted CMCs are the key output within the CIPM MRA and they underpin world-wide acceptance of measurement and test results in all fields. The NMIs and Designated Institutes (DIs) from around 100 states, as well as four international organizations, participate in this acknowledged pillar of the international quality infrastructure. States with emerging metrology systems face particular challenges integrating into the system, so the BIPM and its partners facilitate their effective engagement through a series of capacity building activities such as this course.

Effective participation in the CIPM MRA

The CIPM MRA can be challenging if newcomers are not aware of appropriate guidelines and mechanisms. The course focused on effective preparation of CMCs and the associated processes, which will result in a decreased workload for both the NMIs submitting the CMCs and the experts who have to review their submissions. Additionally, the knowledge gained will help inexperienced laboratories participate more effectively in comparisons. The hope is that in the future, these NMIs may even lead comparisons, enabling a more balanced distribution of work.

The unique structure of the course allowed participants to reach desired learning outcomes by instilling a climate of inquiry and dialogue. With this in mind, topics followed a logical sequence starting with the importance of global quality infrastructure and its key elements, followed by specifics in implementation of the CIPM MRA requirements on quality systems, comparisons and CMCs.  Course activities included lectures, group work, case studies and laboratory tours to maximize knowledge transfer between participants and experts.

"Hitting the Target"

Implementing the knowledge gained on such courses is not always easy. The final days of the course were therefore tailored to equip the participants with the wider understanding necessary to bring change into their laboratories. Prof. Philip N. Dearden, Head of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT), an organization specializing in strategy development, facilitated a module on setting priorities entitled "Hitting the Target". This module introduced a methodology to help define national needs and set priorities in metrology. Working in teams, participants demonstrated their understanding by designing metrology projects to improve their implementation of the CIPM MRA, and increase its impact. The course concluded with presentations of their future plans.

Support of NIST

The BIPM acknowledges the US Government Grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which has enabled the BIPM to run both this course and a leadership course in 2016.

Some feedback from the participants:

"I feel I have acquired the strategic approaches necessary for developing metrology related capabilities.  All this makes a 'sound beginning' to develop a fit for purpose and recognized metrology capability. Most importantly, NMIE will become an Associate of the CGPM in January 2018 and this of course is perfect timing!"

Mulugeta Derebew, Deputy Director General, National Metrology Institute of Ethiopia (Ethiopia)

"I have gained a lot of knowledge in the understanding of the CIPM MRA, its importance and how our NMIs may participate fully. In my NMI, we are in the process of submitting CMCs to the KCDB of the BIPM and the course has helped me to gain deeper understanding in the requirements of the CMC submission in the temperature laboratory. I go back home full of knowledge of not only Temperature but several other metrology field requirements for their submission of CMCs as well as the materials needed to mentor and transfer knowledge to other colleagues in my country as well as the AFRIMETS region. I have no doubt that the 'achieve right first time' emphasis will be met in the future submission to the KCDB."

Blessing Chibaya, NMI-SIRDC (Zimbabwe)

"After these two weeks of intense training I can conclude that I have increased my knowledge in metrology, especially in the CIPM MRA, heard the experience of colleagues, of people who implemented a management system and who were pilots in comparisons. The course gave me the necessary tools to achieve it and I hope to implement it at my institute."

Maria Lourdes Valenzuela, INTN (Paraguay)

"The course content was excellent. I gathered very essential knowledge. I achieved numerous technical skills upon completion of this course such as participation/managing comparisons and how to prepare CMCs and to modify of CMCs in different metrology areas."

Md. Masud AL Mamun, NML-BSTI (Bangladesh)

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