Metrology in Cuba and its socio-economic impact

Ing. Fernando A. Arruza Rodríguez

14 - 12 - 2021

Director de Metrología ONN; Director del Servicio Nacional de Metrología; Miembro CIML-OIML; Miembro extranjero de la Academia Rusa de Metrología.

When the Revolution triumphed, there was neither a Metrology infrastructure nor a culture or knowledge of the importance of Metrology in Cuba. It was not until 1962 that Commander Ernesto Che Guevara, as Minister of Industry, established the Division of Standards and Metrology, when his great vision made him realize the need to rely on this science to undertake the development of the country, with quality as its fundamental base.

As early as in 1964, in his capacity as Minister, he said, “The pilot plan for Metrology, already under way, should gradually find solutions to our practical problems to embrace the Metric System (MS) in our organization. The MS was particularly important for the progressive viability of trade and technology transfer with the world”.

Likewise, he established the first School of Metrology, brought the first foreign advisors, and purchased the first standard instruments. He also sent young people to study abroad and, in November 1964, he opened our first laboratory, which years later became the National Metrology Research Institute (INIMET).

Later on, our country established the Cuban Institute of Standardization, Metrology and Quality Control, turned in 1976 into the State Committee for Standardization (CEN). In 1982, Cuba issued Decree-Law 62 on the International System of Units, thus enthroning the SI as the legal system of units used in Cuba. The 1980s also saw the enlargement of CEN’s network of metrological laboratories, the construction, with USSR’s assistance, of two Regional Metrological Centers (in the provinces of Santa Clara and Holguín), another two with our own resources (in the provinces of Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba) and small metrological laboratories in the rest of the country. All of them make up the current National Metrology Service (SENAMET). By 1990, we had created more than 170 metrological laboratories in enterprises. In those years, Cuba strengthened its work as full member of the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) and organized for several years a number of international courses on Legal Metrology attended by specialists from Latin America, Asia and Africa.

In 1991, Cuba joined COOMET (Euro-Asian Cooperation of National Metrological Institutions). In 1994, the National Bureau of Standards (ONN) assumed CEN’s role and, in 1998, we approved Decree-Law 183, On Metrology, our first legal document, which made it possible to organize and regulate Metrology and had a significant impact on our national development and sustainability.

In 2000, Cuba became Associate Member of the General Conference of Weights and Measures, declared its three national institutes (INIMET, CPHR and CENTIS, the latter two in the field of ionizing radiation measurements) and signed the Mutual Recognition Agreement. Through COOMET, we took steps to publish our calibration and measurement capabilities (CMC). Nowadays, our national institutes are recognized as being in conformity with the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. They have 113 CMC segments published on the BIPM database, which does great credit to Cuban metrology and earns Cuba international recognition of its measurement capabilities, for the benefit of national production of goods and services, mainly with a view to foreign trade.

In October 2020, we approved Decree-Law 8, On Standardization, Metrology, Quality and Accreditation, a new regulation that replaced several regulations, including Decrees-Law 62/1982 and 183/1998, to update Cuban Metrology and adjust its organization and control to international practice.

 A casi de cumplir 60 años del inicio de dar sus primeros pasos como aquí he descrito, la metrología cubana ha logrado desarrollar y sostener una infraestructura que abarca los campos de la metrología legal, científica e industrial, de haber estado presente y acompañado al desarrollo y sostenimiento socioeconómico de la nación, como ejemplo cito: en el aseguramiento de las mediciones que intervienen trasiego y calidades de los productos de su comercio internacional, tanto de exportación como importación, de las mediciones que se realizan en la producción de azúcar y productos agrícolas, en la producción de bienes, dentro de ellos con gran importancia la de productos industriales alimenticios, los servicios de atención médica, últimamente esta con mayor relevancia en la lucha contra la pandemia, la metrología cubana estuvo presente en esta batalla, así como acompañando el desarrollo y fabricación de  los candidatos vacúnales que han tenido un impactante éxito en la contención y reducción del impacto de la COVID.