Setting Standard for Temperature Measurement

Meet NMC’s veteran, Mr Victor Tan, Principal Metrologist, who pioneered the development of the centre’s temperature and humidity standards and Measurement Assurance Programme (MAP).

Industry practitioners would know the importance of temperature and humidity measurements, which are essential for many manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical, biomedical science, aerospace, marine, petrochemical industries, as well as energy efficiency measurements for buildings’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Victor joined NMC in 1983 as an enthusiastic metrologist in electrical calibration and measurement after graduating from the University of Essex, United Kingdom, with an Honours degree in Electronic Engineering. He later joined the Temperature and Humidity Lab, and quickly picked up knowledge and skills in temperature metrology. To speed up the learning curve in this new metrology field, Victor studied intensely the basic principles of temperature and humidity measurement, and thermal properties of materials used in temperature and humidity sensing. “To be an expert in temperature measurement, you have to have deep understanding of temperature instrumentation and hands-on experience in calibration and measurement”, Victor added. For further exposures and immersion, Victor was also attached at the National Metrology Institute of Australia, where he learnt thermometry, and SIRA in UK where he underwent training in hygrometry.

Victor was instrumental in raising NMC’s metrological capabilities. In the early days, the only reference standards in temperature maintained at NMC were platinum resistance thermometers. To provide traceable dissemination, they had to be sent to other national metrology institutes for calibration. Over the years, the national reference standards have been upgraded to temperature fixed point standards for the realisation of International Temperature Scale-1990, commonly known as the ITS-90, which is adopted internationally as the reference for temperature measurements. “We have come a long way”, says Victor. Measurement capability is not just about having the measurement standards and equipment, but also the competency level of metrologists. In this regard, Victor has also been training and mentoring young metrologists who have embarked on a career in metrology. “As a trainer and mentor, Victor is always very patient and meticulous. If I have any doubt after the training, he will search for more information and come back to explain to me further”, said Dr Ye Shaochun, one of the young metrologists mentored by Victor.

Victor Training on temp std

Victor (left) conducting training on temperature standard and measurement technique

With his vast experience in metrology, Victor provides his expertise to the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) to conduct technical assessment of thermometer and hygrometer calibration laboratories. He also served as the Chairperson of SAC’s Calibration and Measurement Technical Committee from 1985 to 2015.

Victor also pioneered the setting up of NMC’s Measurement Assurance Programme (MAP) in 2012, providing training, consultancy and proficiency testing to companies to help them raise quality and productivity in calibration, measurement, product design and manufacturing. Under the programme, Victor has helped many companies set up calibration laboratories and develop competencies needed to enable them to obtain accreditation for their services. He finds satisfaction in helping the companies attain measurement competency required for their business and successfully gain accreditation within a short period of time.

Victor says, “My most fulfilling experience was to set up national standards required by Singapore’s industry for temperature and humidity measurements, with measurement uncertainty comparable to advanced national metrology institutes, and help colleagues in NMC and the industry upgrade their skills and knowledge.”