• India has become the 13th country authorised to certify ‘measuring and weighing instruments’ based on globally accepted standards of the Paris-based International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML).
• An OIML-approved certificate is mandatory to sell weighing or measuring instruments in the international market at present.
• The International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML), established in 1955, is an inter-governmental organisation that develops model regulations and standards for use by legal metrology authorities and industry.
• India became a member of OILM in 1956.
• Other countries authorised for issuing OIML approval certificates are: Australia, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and Slovakia.
What is legal metrology?
• Metrology is the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology.
It is usually categorised into three different branches: scientific, industrial and legal metrology.
i) Scientific metrology is the basis for establishing and developing quantity systems, units of measurements, unit systems and new measurement systems. It is traditionally the principal area of concern of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).
ii) Industrial metrology, which is also under the scope of the BIPM, focuses on measurements and measuring instruments used in production and quality control.
iii) Legal metrology is the practice and process of applying statutory and regulatory structure and enforcement to metrology. It refers to the regulation requirements of measurement and measuring instruments so that consumers are protected and fair trade is observed.
International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML)
• The International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML) is an inter-governmental treaty organisation founded in 1955.
• Its headquarters is situated in Paris, France.
• It was established to promote the global harmonisation of legal metrology procedures. Since then, the OIML has developed a worldwide technical structure that provides its members with metrological guidelines for the elaboration of national and regional requirements concerning the manufacture and use of measuring instruments for legal metrology applications.
• OIML has 63 Member States and 64 Corresponding Members.
• Member States are countries that have ratified the OIML Convention and that have officially sent the accession instrument to the French government. Corresponding Members are countries or economies that cannot, or do not yet wish to become Member States, but are interested in the work of the OIML and want to participate in it.
Functions of OIML:
i) It develops model regulations, standards and related documents for use by legal metrology authorities and industry.
ii) It provides mutual recognition systems which reduce trade barriers and costs in a global market.
iii) It represents the interests of the legal metrology community within international organisations and forums concerned with metrology, standardisation, testing, certification and accreditation.
iv) It promotes and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and competencies within the legal metrology community worldwide.
v) It cooperates with other metrology bodies to raise awareness of the contribution that a sound legal metrology infrastructure can make to a modern economy.
• A meeting of the OIML Conference is held every four years to establish general policy, vote on the budget and confirm the decisions of the International Committee of Legal Metrology (CIML).
• The OIML has developed a certificate system for measuring instruments that comply with the recommendations to promote global regulatory-body acceptance of test reports, thereby avoiding duplicative type evaluation testing requirements.
How the autorisation will benefit India?
• A separate division in the ministry will be set up to look into OIML certification. To begin with, a laboratory will also be established in Ahmedabad for testing initially eight sets of instruments like energy meters, water meters, automatic and manual weighing machines, etc. Gradually, the number of labs will be increased.
• The country exported Rs 600 crore worth of measuring instruments in the last three years. The exports will rise further with India becoming an OIML certificate-issuing nation.
• This will help to boost domestic exports. Domestic manufacturers were facing delays in getting the OIML certificates from other countries.
• They can now export their weighing and measuring instruments worldwide without incurring additional testing fees, resulting in significant cost savings.
• Besides, India can also support foreign manufacturers by issuing OIML pattern approval certificates from its certified Regional Reference Standards Laboratories (RRSLs), thereby generating forex in terms of fees, etc.
• The country follows OIML recommendations and procedures for testing and calibration of weights and measures. The reports prepared by the Legal Metrology’s Regional Reference Standards Laboratories are now acceptable to the OIML issuing authorities.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has amended the Legal Metrology (General) Rules, 2011 for the enhancement of the ease of doing business and reducing the compliance burden for the industries.
Legal metrology (weights and measures) laws form the basis of commercial transactions in any civilised society. Precision and accuracy in measurement plays a very vital role in day to day life. A transparent and efficient legal metrology system inspires confidence in trade, industry and consumer and brings harmonious environment for conducting business.