Context: India has become a primary authority responsible for issuing globally recognized OIML certificates, enabling the sale of weights and measures worldwide. The Department of Consumer Affairs is now equipped to issue the essential OIML Pattern Approval certificates required for selling weights and measures in the international market.
India can now issue OIML certificates
- India became a member of the OIML in 1956. In the same year, India signed the metric convention.
- India applied to become an OIML certificate-issuing authority in March 2023.
- The Legal Metrology Division, Department of Consumer Affairs, is now authorised to issue OIML certificates.
- India now joins an exclusive group of nations, including Australia, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, France, UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Slovakia authorised to issue OIML approval certificates.
How will this help the Indian Economy:
The move is poised to bring several benefits to the Indian economy, including:
- Boosting Exports, Foreign Exchange Earnings, and Employment: This initiative is expected to drive up exports, increase foreign exchange earnings, and generate employment opportunities.
- Attracting Neighbouring Countries and Manufacturers: Given that only 13 countries are currently authorized, neighbouring nations and manufacturers can now come to India for certification, which will contribute to foreign exchange earnings and job creation.
- Establishing a Special Ministry Unit: There are plans to establish a dedicated unit within the ministry to facilitate this process, bolster foreign exchange earnings, and enhance India’s international presence in this field. This move will also lead to resource savings and reduce redundancy.
- Expansion of Testing Labs: Additional testing labs are in the pipeline, with one already operational in Ahmedabad. The Consumer Ministry has committed to establishing similar labs in other cities. Additionally, a dedicated cell will be set up for certificate issuance.
- Cost Savings for Domestic Manufacturers: Domestic manufacturers can export their weighing and measuring instruments worldwide without incurring extra testing fees, resulting in substantial cost savings.
- Influence on OIML Policies: India may now play a role in shaping OIML policies and contribute to the OIML Strategy. This system allows OIML Certificates issued by OIML Issuing Authorities in OIML Member States to serve as the basis for national or regional type approvals for measuring instruments by other participants.
- Facilitating Other OIML Members: Other OIML Members can issue national type approval certificates without the need for costly test facilities by relying on these certificates as a foundation.
What is OIML?
- Founded in 1955, the OIML, known as the International Organization of Legal Metrology, is an intergovernmental organization with global recognition.
- Its certificates are universally accepted for the sale of weights and measures worldwide.
- Headquartered in Paris, this international standard-setting body is responsible for developing model regulations, standards, and associated documents for use by legal metrology authorities and industries.
- Its pivotal role lies in aligning national laws and regulations concerning the performance of measuring instruments, such as clinical thermometers, alcohol breath analysers, radar speed measuring instruments, ship tanks at ports, and petrol dispensing units.
- The harmonization ensures that the certification of measuring devices in one country aligns with that in another, thereby facilitating the international trade of these devices and products reliant on them.
- Throughout its existence, the OIML has developed numerous guidelines to assist its members, particularly those in developing nations, in crafting appropriate legislation related to metrology across various aspects of society.
- It also offers guidance on certification and calibration requirements for new products, especially in cases where calibration carries legal implications, such as in trade, healthcare, and taxation.
- The OIML collaborates closely with other international organizations like the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to ensure compatibility between their respective initiatives.
- While the OIML lacks legal authority to enforce its recommendations on Member States, its recommendations are frequently incorporated into national legislation by these Member States.
- Together, OIML Members represent 86% of the world’s population and 96% of its economy.
The OIML operates under a three-tier structure, funded primarily by its approximately 2 million-Euro Annual Budget, contributed through Member subscriptions.
- International Conference: The highest authority within the OIML is the International Conference which convenes every four years. Delegations from Member States and non-voting Corresponding Members attend this Conference.
- International Committee: Responsible for the day-to-day management of the OIML, the International Committee comprises one representative from each Member State. These members typically hold official positions in legal metrology in their respective countries. The Committee elects a President, who serves a non-salaried six-year term and chairs annual meetings.
- BIML (Bureau International de Métrologie légale): The BIML serves as the OIML’s headquarters. It’s overseen by a salaried director who also acts as the secretary for both the International Conference and the International Committee.
Participants in the OIML fall into three categories:
- OIML Issuing Authorities: These participants hail from Member States and are responsible for issuing OIML type evaluation reports and OIML Certificates under the OIML-CS.
- Utilizers: Participants from OML Member States that accept and utilize OIML Certificates and/or OIML type evaluation reports issued by OIML Issuing Authorities.
- Associates: Corresponding Members who also accept and utilize OIML Certificates and/or OIML type evaluation reports issued by OIML Issuing Authorities. Associates, however, do not possess voting rights in the Management Committee.
- OIML Issuing Authorities must prove compliance with ISO/IEC 17065, while Test Laboratories must demonstrate compliance with ISO/IEC 17025.
- For participation in Scheme B, it is sufficient to show compliance through “self-declaration” with additional supporting evidence.
- However, for Scheme A participation, compliance must be demonstrated via peer evaluation, relying on either accreditation or peer assessment.
- Collaborate with stakeholders to formulate standards and associated documents intended for adoption by both legal metrology authorities and industry. These standards, when put into practice, will align with the OIML’s mission.
- Establish systems for mutual recognition that effectively reduce trade barriers and expenses in a global market.
- Advocate for the interests of the legal metrology community in international organizations and forums dedicated to metrology, standardization, testing, certification, and accreditation.
- Foster and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise among the worldwide legal metrology community.
- In partnership with other metrology organizations, raise awareness about the valuable role a robust legal metrology framework plays in a modern economy.
- Identify areas where the OIML can enhance its effectiveness and efficiency in fulfilling its objectives.
What is the OIML certificate?
- The OIML Certification System (OIML-CS) is a structured framework for issuing, recording, and using OIML certificates, along with their associated OIML type evaluation and test reports.
- These certificates apply to various measuring instruments, including items like digital balances and clinical thermometers.
- With India now part of this system, there are now 13 countries authorized to issue these globally recognized OIML certificates.
- These certificates hold universal acceptance.
- To put it simply, let’s imagine a manufacturer in Noida producing digital balances who wants to export them to the United States or any other country. Previously, they would have had to travel to one of the 12 other countries for certification. However, with India’s inclusion in the system, these certificates can now be obtained in India, making the equipment exportable and accepted across the world.
- The primary objectives of the OIML-CS are as follows:
- Reduce the need for redundant testing when seeking national type evaluations and approvals, while also supporting the recognition of measuring instruments and/or modules subject to legal metrological control.
- Establish rules and procedures to foster mutual trust among participating OIML Member States and Corresponding Members regarding the results of type evaluations, indicating conformity of measuring instruments and/or modules to the metrological and technical requirements outlined in applicable OIML Recommendations.
Definition of Legal Metrology:
- The concept of “legal metrology” can vary across different jurisdictions, reflecting the degree to which metrology is integrated into each jurisdiction’s legal and regulatory framework.
- In their publication titled the “International Vocabulary of Terms in Legal Metrology,” the OIML has defined “legal metrology” as encompassing regulatory measures related to measurements and measuring instruments.
- These measures are designed to safeguard aspects such as public health, safety, environmental protection, taxation, consumer protection, and fair trade.
- The primary goal is to ensure the precision and dependability of measurements, particularly in cases where measured values can impact health, safety, or financial transparency, such as in the context of weights and measures.
- The linkage between these two statements is established through the terms “regulatory,” “accuracy,” and “reliability.”
- The term “regulatory” encompasses the “legal” dimensions of the concept, which pertain to the roles played by governments, national metrology institutes, and standards organizations in creating a framework that instils confidence in the accuracy and reliability of measurements.
- The OIML has identified four primary activities that serve the objectives of legal metrology:
- Establishing legal requirements.
- Conducting control and conformity assessments of regulated products and activities.
- Overseeing regulated products and activities.
- Providing the essential infrastructure to facilitate accurate measurements.