A better quality of life, thanks to the science of measurement

Singapore's National Metrology Centre celebrates World Metrology Day, “Measurements in Daily Life”

Singapore, 20 May 2013—Whether you’re comparing the weight of the bak kwa you buy every Chinese New Year, following the doctor’s prescribed dose of medicine, or determining which light bulb conserves energy for your home, all these units of measurement you use regularly are results of metrology, the science of measurement. This year’s World Metrology Day, “Measurements in Daily Life”, celebrates metrology’s contribution to international trade and commerce, scientific advancement, and especially our everyday lives.

2. To commemorate this event, the National Metrology Centre (NMC), an institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), today organised an industry conference to raise awareness of the importance of measurements in daily living, and its role in enabling innovation and industry.

3. Said Dr Thomas Liew, Executive Director of NMC, “Metrology is the study of measurement science. Precise measurements in design and manufacturing are critical for safe and high quality products, and new measurement methods also enable technological advances and innovation. Metrology research at NMC has helped to develop high quality and innovative products, as well as contribute to public well being. NMC’s world class temperature capabilities have helped thermocycler companies evaluate the performance of thermocyclers, where temperature control is critical for DNA replication during the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process. Recently our work in thermal imagers for human temperature screening has been adopted as a Singapore Standard, and our acoustics measurement capabilities helped to improve the quality of hearing screening in healthcare.” [1]

Measurements for Better Quality of Life

4. NMC’s World Metrology Day Conference featured speakers from Proctor and Gamble (P&G), National University Health System (NUHS), Health Sciences Authority (HSA), Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) and other industry partners, along three key themes:

5. Quality of Life:Precise measurement standards can lead to better analysis and understanding of our living environment, for example pollution monitoring, to protect and improve the quality of life. NMC works closely with the environment sector in the areas of indoor and outdoor air quality measurement, and provision of gas certified reference materials and gas mixtures. The Centre’s metrology standards help to provide accurate measurements for gas quantities, which can enable the collection of precise information about local air pollution.

6. Enabling Technology:Through the development of measurement techniques, metrology enables innovation of products in many areas, such as in healthcare and assisted living. For example, NMC’s expertise in acoustics measurement help to improve the accuracy of hearing test instruments and sound calibrators, that are widely used by audiologists and manufacturers for hearing aid production and quality control.

7. Industry Upgrading: NMC provides industries with access to internationally recognised measurement standards through calibration and measurement services, and helps to develop their capabilities through upgrading of metrology skills and competency. In December 2012 NMC launched the Measurement Assurance Programme (MAP) to improve measurement capabilities and standards such as through proficiency testing. NMC also provides metrology upgrading training to help industry improve their skills in measurement accuracy and enhance productivity and quality.

About World Metrology Day 2013
8. World Metrology Day commemorates the signing of the Metre Convention by representatives of seventeen nations on 20 May 1875, marking the importance of the science of measurement in industrial, commercial and societal application. The Convention provides an inter-governmental framework for coordination and uniformity of measurement, and led to the eventual adoption of the International System of Units (SI) as the units of choice for all scientific measurements. Singapore became a signatory of the Metre Convention in 1994.
9. More information about the NMC World Metrology Day Conference 2013 can be found at: http://www.nmc.a-star.edu.sg/WMD2013.htm

Fazilah Latif
Corporate Communications, Science and Engineering Institutes
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: +65 6419 6529
Email: [email protected]

Lisa Chong
Corporate Communications, Science and Engineering Institutes
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: +65 6419 6544
Email: [email protected]

About the National Metrology Centre (NMC)

The National Metrology Centre (NMC) is Singapore’s measurement science and technology institute, under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). NMC conducts R&D in the science of measurement to enable innovation for emerging technologies. With a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers, NMC supports the growth of advanced technologies for industries such as clean energy, nanotechnology, and medical technology.

NMC establishes and maintains measurement standards at the highest level of accuracy in Singapore, and are recognised worldwide through the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on measurement as being traceable to the International System of Units (the SI units) under the Metre Convention. Our internationally recognised measurement capabilities help Singapore companies in a broad range of industry sectors, including aerospace, electronics, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, and oil and gas, meet international trade requirements and gain access to markets worldwide. The enhanced accuracy of measurements and standards provided by NMC promotes fair trade, safe environment, productivity, high quality and reliable products.

NMC works with companies on research projects, consultancy, training, precision measurements and calibration services. For more information about NMC, please visit www.nmc.a-star.edu.sg

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and six consortia & centres, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their immediate vicinity. For more information about A*STAR, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg.

Case studies of NMC and industry collaborations

1. Metrological Development and Assurance of Handheld Network Analyzer

NMC is partnering with Psiber Data Pte Ltd on a two-year project, “Metrological Development and Assurance of Handheld Network Analyzer”. Psiber Data Pte Ltd is a fast growing SME focusing on testing and measurement solutions for communications infrastructure. The company has developed a handheld network analyzer (“WireXpert”) for testing of high speed 40 Gbps Ethernet copper cables.

Metrological expertise and capabilities at NMC ensure traceable accuracy measurement for Psiber’s handheld network analyzers and achieve recognition of their quality of results and performance globally. In addition, NMC works with Psiber to obtain the US Electronics Testing Laboratory (ETL) certification, as well as participate and contribute to the revision of Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and ISO standards for next generation cabling infrastructure.

This enables Psiber to be the first company in the world to have an instrument capable of certifying 40 Gbps Ethernet copper cabling systems. Psiber expects to increase market share for cable certification from 15% in 2012 to 30% in 2015 in the rapidly growing telecommunication industry.

2. DNA Sequencing

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is an important process in early detection of cancers such as leukemia and lymphomas; identification of certain microorganisms, viruses, and other infectious agents; and in forensics. In the PCR process, a single or a few copies of a particular DNA sequence is replicated millions of times. The PCR process occurs in a thermocycler, through cycles of repeated heating and cooling of the reaction for melting and enzymatic replication of the DNA, and precise temperature control is critical for the quality of DNA replication. The world class temperature standards and capabilities at NMC has helped manufacturers of thermocyclers to verify the preset temperature accuracy of the thermal block, and to evaluate and improve the performance of thermocyclers.

3. Thermal Imaging for Body Temperature Screening

Thermal imaging has a vast application across many fields. In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the use of thermal imagers for bio-medical application, such as for detecting early stages of breast cancer, arthritiss and other diseases caused by poor blood circulation.

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, thermal imagers were set up for the first time at Changi Airport for body temperature screening. NMC responded by studying and identifying critical parameters of thermal imagers which are suitable for rapid and non-contact human temperature screening, for use in airports and other ports of entry. NMC helped to ensure these parameters are validated through the measurement process, which enabled the authorities to select suitable equipment for deployment. Following these activities, a technical protocol for certifying the thermal imagers was then implemented as the Singapore Technical Reference (TR15) and later used as the draft document for the ISO/IEC standard. Today, 10 years after SARS outbreak, the TR15 has been revised and published as Singapore Standards Thermal Imagers for Human Temperature Screening by the technical committee, which is led by NMC.