Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements: Activities and achievements

Dr. Mala Khan: Project Director, Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements DRICM, BCSIR

Dr. Mala Khan: Project Director, Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements DRICM, BCSIR

Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements (DRiCM) has been pioneering and aiming to carry out research and provide services in the area of science of chemical measurement, defined as ‘chemical metrology’-­? the first and most prestigious reference Institute for chemical measurement in Bangladesh. DRiCM started its distinguished and noble journey to establish and disseminate the Unbroken Chain of Traceability in Chemical Measurement from laboratories of Bangladesh to the International system of unit (SI) at BIPM (Bureau International des Poids et Mesures), in Paris. Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements (DRiCM) has been established through an office order dated 20th February 2012 by the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of Bangladesh under the authority entrusted to Bangladesh Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (BCSIR) through BCSIR Ordinance Act 1978. Subsequently Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Honorable Prime Minister, The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh inaugurated DRiCM on 10 June 2012 within BCSIR premises and witnessed it’s state-­? of-­?the-­?art scientific facilities.

There were so many questions: why the market of shrimp, frozen food and vegetable, medicine, chemical products, tea, leather or plastic products and small machineries was not at expected level as it should have been huge demands of Bangladeshi products of such kind in the market of Europe, America, Japan, Australia or in Middle East. The testing reports and the certificates on products quality are not reliable and trusted in those countries. Questions are raised as why our local testing laboratories are not properly accredited following the International guidelines?

DRICM is inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

DRICM is inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladeshi products have been facing hindrance at the ports of foreign countries. There are no reasonable answers for the frustrating shrinking market rate of shrimp, frozen food and the traditional tea and leather made products. Jute, the golden fiber cannot have its expected entrance in the market abroad. The advanced industries of herbal and pharmaceuticals products are below the expected market share as the picture would have been more satisfactory otherwise. Almost all testing inspections of garments and textile industries are done in the outside countries at higher expenses! Contamination rate in consumable products are high and alarming having huge impact on national health! Medical diagnostic reports are in most cases rejected by the prestigious health institutes. Tracing and testing arsenic or contamination in water has not been done proper and reliable way. Do we have trustworthy testing and scientific reports in hand to fight with the developing countries regarding our part of environmental impacts out of the climate change and global working?

The reality is the result of chemical measurements is not comparable to the International scientific measurement standards and thus those had been rejected almost 53 percent and the technical management does not meet the International standards. The absence of a reference lab was a compelling situation for us to depend on the expensive laboratories abroad at the cost of time-­? consuming process. The result of the chemical tests had no chemical metrological traceability and was not comparable to the measurement standards kept at BIMP in Paris. From an unfortunate and remarkable fact in the past days, in 2009 the poisonous melamine was eventually detected in the baby food after having a reliable test report from Thailand, where local laboratories produced different results! So, reliable and trustworthy testing report meeting internationally approved standards and guidelines made a threshold and an inevitable driving force to build a reference institute for chemical measurement in Bangladesh at national context and here was the necessity and requirement which made the prestigious foundation of DRiCM.

After in-­?depth scientific research and discussion with the concerned national communities and regarding conformity to two compelling conditions, Agreement on TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) and Agreement on SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) of World Trade Organization (WTO) Dr. Mala Khan, Scientist and Project Director proposed to form such prestigious chemical metrology targeted to contribute to National Economy. As a consequence, the government of Bangladesh approved and allocated a budget of 29.2 crore taka for 2008-­?2012 development years to implement a ADP project named “Development of ISO 17025 Accredited Instrumentation and Calibration Service Laboratory for Chemical Measurement” under Ministry of Science and Technology to establish the nation’s first reference laboratory in chemistry within Instrumentation and Calibration Laboratory (ICSL) BCSIR. And then ICSL was renamed to DRiCM (Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements) at the 228th board meeting of BCSIR which was approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

On 10th June, 2012 a milestone of the national progress formed, the highest referenced Institute regarding the chemical metrology -­? Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements was inaugurated by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Honorable Prime Minister, The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

The durable labor, research and immense initiative of Dr. Mala Khan brought the dream into reality and DRiCM started its journey with success. The founder scientist Dr. Mala Khan got prestigious APMP DEN Development Economy Award in 2015 for her important role and achievement in building the infrastructure of Chemical Metrology in Bangladesh.

In the meantime, the World International communities, i.e. European Union, Agencies of United Nations, local and international organizations, Industries, Scientists, Educationists praised the functionalities of DRiCM as this reference laboratory participated in different scientific and technical activities from its inception.

This laboratory was gracefully entitled as a member of BIPM the highest Institute in the World related to Metrology on 10th October 2012 and connected to the cooperative network of the reference institutes of similar types numbering 273.

Another story of achievement happened on 7th May 2013 when DRiCM became member of APMP (Asia Pacific Metrology Programme) getting 100 percent vote of the member countries.

Metrology is the science of measurement. Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement. Metrology is defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) as “the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology. DRiCM is working in the field of Chemical Metrology.
DRiCM has been entrusted with the responsibility to coordinate, network, promote and materialize the partnership based decentralized and internationally recognized national chemical metrology infrastructure for Bangladesh to disseminate the Unbroken Chain of Traceability in Chemical Measurements towards the other national testing laboratories involved in chemical measurements including foods, water, environment and pharmaceuticals, clinical applications.
As its regular activities DRiCM is responsible for conducting R&D in the “science of chemical measurements i.e. chemical metrology” so as to contribute to the body of the global scientific knowledge in the science of chemical measurements.


DRiCM is mandated with the tasks of embodying the national chemical metrology infrastructure as DRiCM is positioned at the highest echelon to perform the functions of the designated reference institute (Dl) so as to represent Bangladesh to BIPM, APMP and other similar international metrology organizations specifically for Metrology in Chemistry (MiC).

DRiCM provides analytical services and training to the Institutes related to export, import, industrial and educational and research. The clients are : Occucare, an American pharmaceuticals company; BASF of Germany, Chemicals manufacturing company; Bureau Veritas (Bangladesh) Pvt. Ltd., France based inspection and certification body; Algasol BD Limited, Research Institute of America; European Commission, TCB of Ministry of Commerce, National Museum of Bangladesh, Biman Bangladesh Airlines; Unilever Bangladesh Limited; Marico Bangladesh Ltd., ACI Group, Square Consumer Products, PRAN Group, Akij Group, Ispahani, Elit Cosmetics group, Inspection of ASB, CID, Carbon Mining Bangladesh limited, different Universities, ASM Chemical Industries, Aristopharma, Bridge Pharmaceutical Limited, Beacon Pharmaceuticals, Padma Chemicals, JB Enterprise, Nafij Plastics, The Daily Star, Loyed Agency, Sun Eye Agro Food Industries Limited, GIS, BSCIC etc.

DRiCM proved an exceptional research and chemical calibration institution considering the issue that it started serving to the clients before completion of the project period – an identity uphold its utmost requirements to the National, International and Private arena and earned more than 1.5 crore BDT. In the mean time DRiCM signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Unilever Bangladesh Limited, Bureau Veritas (Bangladesh) Pvt. Ltd., PRAN RFL Group, Akij Food and Beverage Limited, Qtex Solutions Ltd. and Algasol Bangladesh Limited.

After conduction of thorough national need assessment surveys and studies, gap analysis, strategic analysis and priority identification, total of ten (10) strategic packages of services have been identified to be disseminated by DRiCM. DRiCM ensures the quality of the services fit-­-for-­- the-­-purposes as per the national, international norms and standards to meet the clients as well as the technical requirements. The services are open for the clients in the industries: public and private, for the clients in the regulatory and also in the technical conformity assessment bodies and academia. The services are:

u Assigning Reference Values with Metrological Traceability
u Standard Reference Material of Bangladesh (SRMB)
u Reference Measurements Services in Chemistry
u Proficiency Testing & Inter-­?Laboratory Comparison Service
u Chemical Testing Services
u Instrumentation Calibration Services
u Method Validation Services
u Providing Training & Consultancy Services
u Contract Research Services
u Support to Higher Degree Research Programme

For the first time in Bangladesh, DRiCM has developed the laboratory facilities for complete characterization of Active Pharmaceuticals. Ingredients (API) utilizing a wide range of state-­?of-­?the-­?art technologies. These services are provided to the clients as per cGMP/ICH/US FDA, GLP meeting the pressing turn around time requirements of the industries. The special service packages for Pharmaceuticals are API Characterization, Bioequivalence Studies. Equipment Qualification (EQ), Design Qualification (DQ), Installation Qualification, Operation Qualification, Performance Qualification (IQ/OQ/PQ) Services have been provided for all the state-of-the art equipment through the technical Personnel of DRiCM. DRiCM, BCSIR has the consultancy facilities for Quality Control in industry, Custom/Import inspection, certification, consumer right preservation, testing of food and medicine for Green Environment and Sound Health and other sectors. From this organization Training and Consultancy Services in Measurement Science, Laboratory Quality Management Systems and Analytical techniques/ instrumentation as per ISO/IEC 17025, Method Validation, Statistical Techniques in analytical quality control, and others were conducted for several times in regular basis. Industrial Training Program, Graduate and Post Graduate stage research for the tertiary level students from both Public and Private Institute have been conducted in the close supervision of the Scientists of DRiCM. DRiCM has the technical personnel for Design and Drawing of Chemical Laboratory, to achieve Laboratory Quality System as per ISO/IEC 17025, Need Assessment Evaluation, and Accreditation Process for various parameters.

Accredited instrumentation & calibration services as well as supporting instruments have been installed and fully operational condition in DRiCM. The purchased and installed Sophisticated Instruments in the state-of-art of science and technology that belongs to DRiCM are: Fully Automated 400 MHz High Resolution Fourier Transform Nuclear Magnetic Resonance FT-NMR Spectroscopy with High throughput Auto sampler, Energy Dispersive-X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (ED-XRF), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS), Liquid Chromatography Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (LC-ICP-MS), Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectroscopy (LC-MS/MS), Gas Chromatography Mass-Spectroscopy (GC-MS), Gas Chromatography Mass-Spectroscopy/Mass-Spectroscopy (GC-MS/MS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography (GC-FID/ECD), Ultra Trace Level Mercury Analyzer, FT-Far Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-FIR), FT Mid Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-MIR), Bomb Calorimeter, Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOC), Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (FAAS), Graphite Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (GFAAS), Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/DNA Analyzer (RT-PCR), Biochemistry Analyzer, Protein Distillation Apparatus, Ion Chromatography (IC), CHNS Analyzer etc.

DRiCM is now a world standard reference chemical measurement Institute to add values to the Scientific, Academic, research and thus socio-­?economic and environmental issues of Bangladesh and has become one of the most valuable and prestigious image and revenue earner Institute got the privileges and emphasis from the Government body, policy and decision makers. The key factor is to make this reference Institute sustainable be providing services to public and private, national and International organizations and to leverage this.