BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS) will upgrade its Chemistry and Metrology Departments, according to Director Stuart Laplace.
Laplace said the Chemistry Department upgrades will include accreditation and updated equipment that will facilitate trade. Services at the Metrology Department will expand its weights and measures to enhance its capabilities to collaborate all equipment used in trade.
“Over the next two years, the Chemistry Department will be moving towards ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation<” explained Laplace. According to http://www.iso.org, ISO/IEC 17025:2005 specifies the general requirements for the competence to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling. It covers testing and calibration performed using standard methods, non-standard methods, and laboratory-developed methods.
“It is applicable to all organizations performing tests and/or calibrations,” said Laplace. “These include, for example, first-, second- and third-party laboratories, and laboratories where testing and/or calibration forms part of inspection and product certification.
“Where trade is concerned, they will update some equipment where the department can test and verify items such as jams, jellies, coconut drops, juices and ice-teas made by locals,” said Laplace. “This will assist in trying to get into the international market.
“We are aware of what the standard requirements are for some of these countries,” he said. “We are here to assist those persons in getting their labels, calorific values, sugar, and proteins added to their labels correctly to ensure that when it gets to the borders that we have no issues in terms of trade delays. We are trying to facilitate trade in that aspect.”
Laplace said because the department is tied to the Department of International Trade, the lab is now going to take on the role of Trade Lab as well.
“We will verify some of these items or disputes associated with trade of goods coming out of St. Kitts and Nevis, and coming into St. Kitts and Nevis as well,” he said.
The SKNBS Director said that the lab will be receiving a gas chromatographer with funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
“That piece of equipment is what is going to be used to basically do all what I just mentioned,” he said. “We are going to test all the protein contents and all the stuff of the food using the equipment.
“We can also use it to test the quality of diesel and gas at the stations and of course again we verifying that you the customer is getting the right quality of petrol that you are paying for and ensuring that the person who is buying it as the company is being sold the right quality grade in bulk as well. So, it’s more of a verification additive that we have.”
Role of the Metrology Department
Laplace said consumers deal with the activities of the Metrology Department every day.
“If you go to the supermarkets or you go to the gas stations you would notice that there will be some stickers displayed there to verify that we have been to that location,” said Laplace.
“We have checked those devices to ensure that what they are measuring is indeed correct and the customer is not being robbed. Business owner are not giving away their product either. Metrology covers both the retailer as well as the customer because to us they all are customers involved in trade.”
The new services will include the calibration of medical equipment such as stethoscopes and sphygmomanometers to read blood pressure and heart palpitations.
“The Metrology Department also wants to venture into electrical meter calibrations in a variety of areas,” explained Laplace. “These include the gaming industry, where they will calibrate slot machines, test of aggregates in terms of equipment used on the road and in construction generally, and testing cement, steel, and blocks to ensure they are of the right quality standard to avoid catastrophes.”
At present, the Metrology Lab is being expanded with funding from the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean Development Bank to have an accredited lab in St. Kitts and Nevis where it can calibrate standard weights that it uses to verify others.
“Traditionally, this is an exercise that would have incurred significant amount of money that we would have to send our weights off to another lab, let’s say in Jamaica and that would run us anywhere between US $40,000 to $50,000 a year,” said Laplace. “I’m thinking its best that if we are able to do that ourselves here in St. Kitts and Nevis, we can then offer that service to the neighbouring islands as well that are closer to us geographically.”