Last 13 February the XXXIV edition of the Conference of calibration laboratories was held in Turin. It is an important event, to discuss on the most innovative topics about reference materials, metrology and calibration, and talk about the novelties for accredited testing laboratories. In the frame of the 14th edition of Automation & Testing fair dedicated to Industry 4.0, Measurements and Tests, Robotics and Innovative Technologies, Accredia was in fact very present with a series of meetings and specialized seminars open to the public.
The topics covered were included in four different meetings. One on “Reference Materials 4.0”, which focused attention on the novelties and potential of reference materials made by accredited producers with respect to their use in the era of Industry 4.0 and the services associated with it. The other, the “XXXIV Conference of accredited calibration laboratories“, returned after a year of pause for the review of the International System of Units, in the traditional setting of A&T fair. Then, the meeting “Compliance to specifications, is it a problem?” which developed the subject of specifications compliance seen from different company’s points of view, and the seminar “DM 93: periodic verification of measuring instruments for legal purposes” which focused on the legislation, together with the Ministry of Economic Development and Unioncamere.
The main objective of the meeting was to communicate the role played by accredited Reference Materials Producers (RMP) to ensure the reliability of test and calibration results and validations in different and important production sectors. There are many sectors of the Italian economy that need Reference Materials (RM) made by accredited Producers, and in particular Certified Reference Materials (CRM), to help companies innovate, comply with regulations and be competitive on the national and international markets. Scientific research and industrial development are in fact increasingly based on the use of reference materials, because they guarantee metrological traceability, method validation and quality control in strategic sectors such as agri-food and the environment.
Among the speakers of INRiM (National Institute of Metrological Research), Michela Sega highlighted how, thanks to the availability of certified reference materials, research is able to correctly evaluate global climate changes. Some important fields of research have been presented, aimed at developing new greenhouse gas reference materials to support measures for climate change. Paola Iacomussi, instead, clarified the importance for the manufacturing industry of having reference materials that represent the qualitative properties of products. A particularly appreciated example was the introduction of a specific reference material intended for the calibration of measuring instruments in the field of road asphalts verification.
Claudia Zoani of ENEA (National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) and coordinator of METROFOOD-RI, highlighted how in the agri-food sector the reliability of measures associated to production and consumption of food has a key role, as all decision-making processes depend on the results of measures; while Silvia Orlandini, coordinator of Milk Analysis and Instruments and Methods Validation of ICAR (Institute of Calculation and High Performance Networks of the CNR) illustrated the relevance of certified reference materials for the dairy sector. Very important is the availability of large quantities of a certified primary reference material for somatic cell count which demonstrates stability over time. The analysis, organization of the production process, feasibility studies and tests on preparation protocols have been the subject and are still the subject of projects financed by the European Union.
At the end, prof. Salvatore Graziani of the Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Catania, presented the use of reference materials in the implementation of circular economy processes that limit the use of non-renewable resources and the introduction into the environment of pollutants. This is possible if “green” production technologies are implemented, which use renewable raw materials and produce devices whose disposal after the “useful life” does not create pollution problems. An example of a green sensor that responds to these characteristics is based on bacterial cellulose.
Calibration laboratories and the Ministerial Decree 93/2017
The Conference was opened by the President of Accredia, Giuseppe Rossi, who reminded the importance of the Ministerial Decree 93/2017, released by the Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE), on the different calibration activities of measuring instruments, and the relative amendments published in the Official Journal last February 18 with Ministerial Decree 176/2019. Bodies authorized to carry out periodic verifications, which on March 18, 2019, received the formal acceptance relating to accreditation, can continue to carry out the activities until June 30, 2020. At the end of the transitional period of 18 months, the Accreditation Body will send to the MiSE and Unioncamere the list of CABs that meet this requirement.
“Talking about the Ministerial Decree 93/2017 and its amendments is essential – explained Giuseppe Capuano of MiSE – It is a macro industrial policy intervention. To ensure trust in the market, in operators. For the proper functioning of economy and for the protection of consumers. To apply this, a network between all operators is needed. If metrology works, businesses work, the market is trusted ”.
Maria Valeria Pennisi of Unioncamere also spoke of collaboration, underlining the intense work of metric assessors to define a common line of direction for the Chambers of Commerce, with the long-term objective of creating a real consolidated text of the legal metrology.
The “tradition” also provides that the Conference is an opportunity to discuss about the activities concluded in the previous year and announce the new ones scheduled for the current year. In particular in the Calibration Laboratories Department, the number of accredited, among Laboratories and Reference Material Producers, rose to 195 with a 5% increase in assessment activities. 2019 was also full of training and information activities addressed to calibration laboratories and assessors, especially for the technical and innovative application aspects of UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025:2018 standard. Also of interest is the introduction of new audit methods, in particular on-site assessments without notice.
The meeting “Compliance to specifications, is it a problem?” displayed case studies and company experiences with particular focus on critical issues that emerged and on solutions adopted with regard to specifications compliance. Cristina Cristalli of Loccioni company, talked about the role played by specifications compliance in the customer-supplier relationship, in business cases such as batch production based on technical specifications, customized production for particular sectors and customized production on measurement systems, also customized. The greatest criticality is found in cases where the system is characterized only at the end of the project, therefore only at the end of production. A fundamental aspect in this case is collaboration with the customer in the definition of specifications and measurement methods, while in the definition of specifications and their consequent evaluation, the leading role is played by measurement uncertainty.
Giuseppe Beninati illustrated the operating method adopted in Leonardo company, which relies on an integrated system of interaction between the different corporate functions. In particularly structured contexts, specifications compliance can be approached with the intention to improve, with the possibility of using it as a useful ground for cooperation between corporate bodies in the common achievement of a goal and as a measure of production efficiency aimed at satisfying customer expectations.
Silvia Storai brought testimony of the Analytical Srl testing laboratory, which in order to comply with the new ISO/IEC 17025 standard, faced the statistical problem of specifications compliance in cases of decision rules application. In fact, in addressing the issue, the 2018 version of the standard provides generic guidelines to which associate a solid knowledge of regulatory documents and statistical procedures.
The last speech of Dr. Francesca Pennecchi, researcher of the National Institute of Metrological Research, and the Eng. Paola Pedone, technical officer of ACCREDIA DT, described the topic from a mathematical and statistical point of view providing a detailed bibliography and links to European project websites with documents, examples and applications.