A new paradigm for uncertainty in measurement

Steve Sidney, National Laboratory Association - South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa (steves@nla.org.za)

As a member of the Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology – WG1 the author will provide a background and the context of the review of the Guide to Uncertainty of Measurement (GUM). The presentation will also reflect on the failed attempt to revise the document, of which a draft was circulated for comment in 2015/16, as well as what the current status is and the strategic approach that has subsequently been adopted.

The publication of the original guide nearly 20 years ago has not only revolutionised, standardised and harmonised the approach to evaluating uncertainty in measurements, but also provided a relatively common understanding for nearly all measurement stakeholders.

Laboratories from both the world of metrology/calibration as well as testing have now actively used this guidance for this period of time and in many respects considered it to be the “bible” when providing uncertainty estimates.

However, some stakeholders, notably the NMI’s and others, have found that the document is inconsistent in some areas as well lacking in substantive guidance in others and any review needs to consider this when proposing changes.

Whilst this new paradigm is now in its relative infancy, the author will provide an insider’s view to the direction that is been taken and what can be expected in the future.

Short Biography of Presenting Author

Steve Sidney graduated from the University of Johannesburg, formerly known as the Witwatersrand Technikon, with a 4 year National Diploma in Electrical Engineering Light Current and went on to make a career for himself in the area of Test & Measurement. Initially he worked for Fluke South Africa, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of the American company. Thereafter he started his own business, which was ultimately sold to Altech, a large multi-disciplinary JSE Listed Electronics/Telecomm’s corporation. Steve was subsequently appointed the Managing Director of Altech Instruments in the mid 80’s, a position he held until 1997. After spending some time in a recruitment business, he elected to begin a management-consulting practice.

All along, he has been actively involved in laboratory as well as accreditation issues. Steve was appointed a Board Member of both the NLA as well as SANAS in the early 90’s and is currently a director and the honorary Treasurer of the National Laboratory Association – South Africa (NLA-SA). In 2013 he was also appointed as the Chair of the Board of the first multi-economy accreditation body, SADCAS, which is based in Botswana and serves the vast majority of the Southern African region.

On a day to day basis he manages the NLA-SA as its Director and in this role he is an active member of a number of organisations both in South Africa as well as internationally, these include:

ILAC  - Laboratory Committee (Chair) and Accreditation Issues Committee


ISO – WG44 Review of ISO17025 (Co-convenor)

In all cases representing the view of the laboratory stakeholders


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