National Laboratory Association South Africa

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Whilst the National Laboratory Association, (NLA), was formed in 1998; its origins began over 20 years ago when the National Calibration Service (NCS) was formed at the National Physical Research Laboratory (NPRL) of the CSIR.

The NLA continued the rich heritage of both Calibration services and Accreditation in the country and these two organisations then brought South Africa to the point where accreditation was not only required for laboratories but it was also necessary to extend this capability into other areas such as Inspection and Certification. The NLA was then requested to develop a new company and established the South African National Accreditation System, SANAS.

The accreditation activities were transferred into SANAS, and the laboratory community decided that it would be advantageous that a new organisation be formed in order to be in a position to represent the interests of the laboratories.

This new non-profit organisation felt that it should retain some continuity with the past and decided to retain the NLA acronym but renamed the organisation the National Laboratory Association. In 2012 the association was renamed NLA-SA (National Laboratory Association – South Africa).


The membership of the Association comprises of the following components.

• Companies
• Individuals

It was decided from the outset that the NLA-SA would target as broad a base as possible in order to draw on potential members and therefore membership is open to laboratories that are either accredited or not accredited. The only proviso is that members subscribe to the ethical principles of the association. This “Code of Conduct” has been designed with the view that all members need to adhere to it and that it recognises that voluntary adherence is a very strong motivator when dealing with the market place. It does not do away with the need for accreditation but rather enhances and strengthens the laboratory’s position. The need for an ethically strong community is clear and forms the basis of South Africa’s strong international reputation. This approach is one that the Association via its members wishes to continue supporting.

While the vast majority of NLA-SA members are corporate structures, both large and small, the Association also has created two associate categories. One is for individuals, who for whatever reason are not employed permanently in a laboratory and the other for organisations, typically suppliers, who wish to be associated with the NLA-SA. The fees for all these categories are detailed in the table below.

In line with a Board decision the following fee structure was approved for 2017.

Category 1 1 – 10 R 2150
Category 2 11 – 30 R 4500
Category 3 > 30 R 7500
Associate Member Corporate R 4000
Associate Member Individual R 425

*NB: Fees exclude 15% VAT

These categories have been designed to rationalise the disparity between small and large organisations and apply irrespective of Accreditation status.

What does the NLA do?

The association is active in the following major areas

• Technical Training
• Professional Recognition (MetCert Scheme for Metrologists)
• Proficiency Testing (PT) – Testing and Calibration Schemes
• Annual Workshop & Conferences
• Representation Locally & Internationally
• Sub Committees

1. Training

In the past the various organisations mentioned above in the introductory paragraph actively provided and organised technical training for Calibration/Metrology laboratories. The NLA-SA via its training initiative continues to provide this service. During 2018 the NLA-SA plans to once again co-ordinate and arrange more than 30 courses for the laboratory community both in the area of Metrology as well as some specific Testing area.

We are also very pleased to advise that the Uncertainty of Measurement (Calibration) has been accredited by one of the SETA’s and it is hoped that this will be the fore-runner of having all the NLA-SA courses accredited.

For an updated Course schedule, readers are requested to go to our website or contact the Office and speak to Ms Maggie Rossouw.

2. Professional Recognition for Metrologists

The past two and half years has seen SANAS adopt this scheme as one of the ways that Metrologists working in Calibration laboratories as meeting the basic requirements for Technical Signatory status.

During the previous year the NLA-SA experienced substantial growth in the number of applications and to date more than 300 metrologists have been certified. At the end of 2017 there were about 30 applicants whom we are busy evaluating and it is hoped that during 2018 the number of certified metrologists will rise to about 350.

Further information, as well as the application documents, can be viewed / downloaded from the NLA-SA web site under the MetCert heading on the home page.

3. Annual Test & Measurement Conference

For more than 25 years the NLA has organised and co-ordinated the T&M Conference. This event continues to be the highlight of the year for the Association. Nearly 300 people attended the 2017 Conference which was held in the Gauteng area at the Saint George Hotel & Convention Center during October 2016. This event is a truly wonderful opportunity for networking and sharing of knowledge and experience to take place.

For 2018 we will be holding the Conference at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West in the Cape between October 8 and 10, 2018. Further information will be made available on our web sites.

4. Representation – Locally & Internationally

It is vital that the laboratory community is adequately represented at various forums both locally and internationally in order to, where necessary, provide a cohesive voice and input to matters which ultimately have a direct impact on the community.

The NLA-SA has therefore established a number of relationships in order to achieve this goal amongst which SANAS, NMISA and SABS Standards Division are the most important locally.

In addition a good working relationship with the Department of Trade and Industry, (the dti), exists, giving the association the opportunity to make issues raised by members known to government.

Internationally, the NLA-SA is directly represented on the International Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation, ILAC, via its committee known as the Laboratory Committee, LC. Through this committee, the NLA-SA is in a position to directly contribute to the technical issues being raised on an international level as well as Accreditation Policy and Arrangement level issues. This role ensures that the opinions of the membership are directly communicated to ILAC and helps to influence the various decisions taken.

In addition the NLA-SA is an International Affiliate Member of the Eurolab Organisation and this also helps to provide the South African Laboratory Community with vital information regarding developments in Europe especially with regard to EU Legislation as it affects measurements.

During the past few years recent development in this regard is the formal relationship that has been entered into between the NLA-SA and the US based NCSLI (National Conference for Standards Laboratories International). With its history of more than 60 years, the NLA-SA is confident that this will help in furthering its aim of assisting South African laboratories to learn and improve.

5. Proficiency Testing (PT)

The NLA-SA has since its inception in 1998 run various schemes for calibration laboratories. Over the past number of years this has been extended into various testing laboratory fields and we are now pleased to able to offer the following schemes.

Calibration Schemes
Field of Metrology

DCLF The dates for these schemes can be obtained from the web site or the NLA-SA office.

Various Closed Schemes with sponsorship from SANAS were also offered during 2015/2016 it is anticipated that this will be repeated in 2017.

Testing Schemes
Programme No of Rounds

Pesticide Formulations 3 For the dates of the various rounds please contact the NLA Office

Water Microbiology 6

Food Microbiology 4

Civils Material Testing 10

For pricing and technical details regarding all the schemes as well as any requests for new schemes, please contact the NLA Office.

6. Subcommittees

During the past few years the NLA has broadened its structure by introducing various sub-committees. The purpose of these committees is to address those aspects that are of specific interest to a discipline or sector. To that end the following sub committees have been established:

• Civil & Road Engineering (MatCivils)
• Water
• Stack Testers (STSA)

It is hoped that more of these will be established in the future and that in this way even more companies / laboratories will derive benefit from their membership.

7. The Future

The NLA-SA’s primary objective is to attract as many companies/organisations, which have laboratory or measurement interests, into becoming members and the current membership of the NLA has grown to nearly 300 representing every type of testing and calibration laboratory.

So why become a member of the NLA-SA?

The reasons that companies and individuals have chosen to become members of the association are varied, however it is apparent that there are two major benefits to being a member.

1. The first is that by becoming active in the NLA-SA and supporting its aims and goals, members are directly contributing to the continued success of this unique and rewarding industry. The measurement and testing laboratories collectively represent a very important and vital capability. It is essential that these skills are not lost and that members of the community at large are made aware of their importance. Whilst individual companies may not be able to communicate this message on their own, clearly an association such as the NLA-SA can be effective in this role.

In addition, a single voice speaking on behalf of the community is much more likely to gain the attention of other organisations rather than the lone voice in the wilderness which is often the case for individuals.

2. On a practical level, membership of this association ensures that members are provided with a suitable financial incentive when attending or participating in any of the following activities.

• Training courses
• Annual Workshop
• PT

The ‘discount’ for using the NLA-SA’s services will virtually ensure that the annual membership fee is paid.

So can there be any clearer reason why you and/or your organisation shouldn’t join the current members and become a member of the National Laboratory Association – South Africa today.

We look forward to welcoming you and printing your membership certificate.

You can find us at where you can fill in the form electronically or you can post us the completed application form that we sent with this letter back to the NLA office for processing.