A laboratory staff of the Cement Testing Center conducts physical testing on a sample using the compressive strength machine.

The Cement Testing Center (CTC) recently achieved a high 96-percent rating in the area of standard testing procedures, according to a laboratory audit conducted by the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines (CeMAP). Following the PNS ISO/IEC 17025:2000 standards for testing and calibration activities, the audit sought to evaluate the center’s reliability for monitoring cement quality.

“Overall, the CTC is a competent testing laboratory,” the team of five quality control experts from CEMEX Philippines (CEMEX), Holcim Philippines (Holcim), Lafarge-associated companies in the Philippines and Northern Cement Corporation (NCC), stated in an audit report. The team also noted that the center’s Laboratory Test Index is also high at 91 percent.

This is particularly reassuring for Filipino consumers as CTC is the institution which ascertains that the quality of local and imported cement adheres to the basic requirements of the Philippine National Standard.

“The CTC’s success ensures consumer welfare by certifying that only cement which has passed applicable standards go into consumers’ homes and buildings,” CeMAP President Dr. Ernesto M. Ordoñez said.

Verification of Analytical balance

Employing random sampling audit techniques, interviews and actual observation, the assessment team evaluated the testing center based on 13 key performance areas which include compliance with the requirements set by the Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Product Standards (DTI-BPS), test methods and standard operating procedures, quality assurance, measurement traceability and calibration, and sample handling. Other factors examined were organization and management, quality system, personnel, physical facilities, equipment and reference material, purchasing, document and records control, as well as customer relations.

Apart from strict adherence to accepted test methodologies, the assessment showed that the CTC has established proper cement sampling and sample handling procedures using a unique coding system which conceals the identity of manufacturers, as well as brand names, from its testing personnel to ensure impartiality for the duration of testing.

The team also noted that the center’s test and measuring equipment comply with national and international standards required by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) Standard Specifications. In addition, the audit group found that the CTC has a highly qualified laboratory staff who undergo continuous skills upgrades for the chemical and physical analyses of cement.

A laboratory staff of the Cement Testing Center conducts filtration of solution which forms part of the processes involved in the chemical analysis of cement samples

“The results serve to demonstrate that the CTC strictly complies with the standard requirements in cement testing. Moreover, this shows our capability to perform all the required tests for cement and related industries,” CTC Manager Noel dela Cruz said. He added that an inter-laboratory testing which will evaluate CTC’s performance against 13 other laboratories of CeMAP member-companies is underway.

The center gathers cement samples monthly from manufacturers and a range of market sources nationwide. All samples collected go through a rigorous process of physical testing and chemical analysis. Once a product completes tests for chemical content, compressive strength, density and other properties, the CTC issues a test certificate to the manufacturer. Accredited by the DTI-BPS and the Department of Public Works and Highways – Bureau of Research and Standards (DPWH-BRS), the CTC is the only local cement testing laboratory which participates regularly in United States-based Cement and Concrete Laboratory’s proficiency testing program for Portland and blended cement.

Lead auditor Rodel S. Santiago and Ma. Corazon S. Sosmena of the Lafarge-associated companies, Lorna S. Luna of CEMEX, Mimi Buyucan of NCC, and Mylene Ite of Holcim constituted the audit team.

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