Innovating for Globally Competitive Products and Processes

Upon the improvements the agencies has been doing in the country to gain globally competitive products and processes. 

By Violeta Balaoing Conoza, ITDI S&T Media Service

Bicutan, Taguig City- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recently identified core outcomes that it hopes to achieve as soon as possible in order to benefit Filipinos.
Alongside this, the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) aims to significantly contribute in improving the productivity, product quality, and global competitiveness of the local industrial, agricultural, and healthcare sectors, among others.

Thus the ITDI continues to harness the possibilities presented by science, technology, and innovation by developing appropriate and cost-effective technologies, enhancing science-based knowhow, and establishing topof-
the-line facilities and capabilities. At the close of 2013, the Institute was able to develop several technologies and products as well as improving its facilities and capabilities. All these can be readily accessed and used by the various sectors it serves.

GAINING WORLDWIDE RECOGNITION IN METROLOGY – DOST’s ITDI, through its National Metrology Laboratory or NML (also the Philippines’ National Metrology Institute
or NMI), capped 2013 with the acceptance of the country’s Calibration and Measurement Capabilities (CMC) in the field of mass. CMCs are awarded by the Joint Committee of the Regional Metrology Organizations and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (JCRB). The approved CMC is now included in the BIPM (International Bureau of Weights
and Measures) global database and made public online in the BIPM website, It should be noted that measurements permeate all facets of daily life, and thus its
worldwide uniformity is becoming more important with the rapid advance of technology.

The new ITDI-STD MiC clean room.

The Philippines now has 21 registered CMCs on the BIPM database. With this recognition of the Philippines’ competence in metrology, as demonstrated in JCRB’s rigorous reviews, the country proudly joins the ranks of the world’s premier National Metrology Institutes or NMIs, such as those of Germany, USA, Japan, UK, Korea, China, and Singapore.

With a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) within the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) now in place, the signatory NMIs of this agreement can be internationally recognized for their technical competence in calibration and measurement—and as a signatory, the Philippines’ NML is now globally recognized among its peers.

And while the Institute has already gained a foothold on physical measurements, the ITDI also seeks to establish a national measurement infrastructure for chemistry or metrology in chemistry (MiC). This aims to ensure comparability and traceability for the results of tests done in different laboratories, regardless of country, field of application, or time performed, thus echoing the MiC mantra, “Once tested, accepted everywhere.”

The ITDI is now implementing the program “Development of National Standards for Chemical Measurements” that aims to establish internationally recognized national measurement standards in chemical analysis, develop traceability and
comparability of analytical test results, and disseminate the chemical measurement accuracy to the users in the country and other stakeholders.

Through the project, Proficiency Testing (PT) services for contaminants in food and metals in water are now being conducted. This PT program aims to assist laboratories in
evaluating their quality control measures and improving their measurements through interlaboratory comparisons. In accordance with ISO/IEC 17025
accreditation requirements, PT is being done to gauge the laboratory’s competence based
on pre-established criteria to ensure traceability and accuracy in measurements. Currently,
the MiC program conducts PT on samples for benzoic acid in mango juice and metals in water.

Starting January 21, 2014, the ITDI has been designated as the Institute for MiC in
the Philippines under the CIBM-MRA (International Committee on Weights and
Measures – Mutual Recognition Arrangement); this is posted on the BIPM (International Bureau of Weights and Measures) website.

TOP-OF-THE-LINE SEMICON FACILITY – In May 2013, President Aquino
inaugurated the ADMATEL or the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory, established to address failure analysis and testing gaps plaguing the country’s
electronics and semiconductor industry.

Inside the ADMATEL facility.

With ADMATEL, electronics firms need not send their samples abroad for testing as this can be done locally. The President was optimistic about this, and said in his speech during the inauguration, “…without doubt, this facility will pull our semiconductors industry up the value chain, and move them closer to their target of becoming a 50-billion dollar
industry by 2016.”

Since January 2014, ADMATEL has been providing testing services mostly to clients from the electronics and semiconductor industry, though it can also cater to other industries that may require their services and expertise. The number of companies and clients availing themselves of the facility’s services is increasing, and 45 percent
are returning customers. Also, 22 per cent of the regular members of SEIPI (Semiconductor & Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc.) avail themselves of the facility’s services, and this number is envisioned to increase in the coming months. ADMATEL operates six days a week, and eventually hopes to transition to 24/7 services.

IMPROVING HEALTHCARE & DISASTER PREPAREDNESS – Ready to Eat (RTE) chicken arroz caldo has been developed as a disaster mitigation/relief food. It is shelf stable for a year and can be given to disaster victims to immediately address hunger since it can be readily eaten or consumed without any additional preparation. Its packaging structure is lightweight and handy, designed to withstand aerial distribution
from about 800 to 1,000 feet. This new development can help prevent situations like those the victims of the 2013 Typhoon Yolanda disaster suffered, in which many had no food for three or more days.

Field testing and validation studies for RTE chicken arroz caldo will soon be conducted in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), using their
distribution protocol. Meanwhile, other RTE disaster preparation foods are also being developed. Process validation is ongoing for chicken tocino rice meals, while beef tapa rice
meals are in product development, and corn soup is undergoing a shelf life study.

Dietary antioxidants or health supplements from local plants are also being developed. Among the plants being studied are duhat, guyabano, mango, mangosteen, pomelo, rambutan, and turmeric.Initial products were developed in the form of capsules, teabags, and chewable tablets. Bioactive chemical substances from the leaves and young stems of Sintaherbs were also isolated and have indicated positive antihyperglycemic activity.

Meanwhile, the DOST’s ceramicbased water filters, which are envisioned to help improve access to potable water, are being rolled out nationwide. These filters can remove microbial/particulate contaminants in drinking water and are suitable for home use. Three models were developed: two pot-type ceramic water filters of 6 L and 1.5 L capacity, and
the latest edition, the candle-type water filter. The filters can purify tap water, deep well water, and raw water (from ponds and springs), thereby making it possible for people to have ready access to safe, potable drinking water, even in remote areas. The filtered water also passes Philippine National Standards (PNS) for drinking water in tests for coliform and Escherichia coli, the most common water-borne disease-causing microorganisms.

Most recently, in response to the typhoon calamity in the Visayas, particularly Tacloban,
100 pieces of ceramic pot filters were delivered to help make potable water available in the devastated areas. An additional 10,000 pieces are also being produced; these will be deployed in other areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda and the devastating 2013 earthquake in Bohol. In December 2013, 100 pieces of candle-type ceramic filters were distributed to various beneficiaries for performance testing in cooperation with the city government in Vigan City. Another potter in Cagayan de Oro City also joined the roll-out, expecting that more recipients would benefit from the technology.

Raising productivity through local technology/innovation Through the DOST-HITS (High Impact Technology Solutions) project “Design and Development of Process Equipment for Food Processing Firms” that aims to locally design and fabricate food processing equipment, make this technology work for local industry needs, and do away or lessen dependence on imports. In line with this, seven types of equipment—water retort, vacuum fryer, vacuum packaging machine, spray dryer, freeze dryer, immersion freezer, and vacuum evaporator—were designed, fabricated, and performance-tested. Field testing with target cooperators was also conducted to monitor the actual operating performance of the equipment, and innovate or repair if needed in order to improve their efficiency or performance.

The DOST-HITS-developed water retort.

The project is now on its second phase; the equipment thus developed was set for roll-out nationwide beginning January 2014. Except for the immersion freezer and vacuum evaporator, all the other five equipment prototypes will be launched in 16 regions to promote and
demonstrate their functionality in pursuit of commercialization. These roll-outs were set to take place at Food Innovation Centers (FIC) established by the DOST regional
offices in cooperation with state universities or SUCs and partners from the private sector.

Once in place, these technologies are envisioned to be a great help in improving
the productivity of food processors in the regions, their innovative capacity, and
the quality of their products. Designated operators in the regions will also be trained.

Local agricultural products are also being ‘dressed up’ to create visual impact and identity and to be at par with similar products in the region. This is achieved by employing distinct packaging designs, appropriate packaging technology, and branding.

To date, competitive packaging design and country branding for upland rice, sweet potato, queen pineapple, and Philippine citrus have been developed and is envisioned to increase their market potential and enhance their competitiveness vis-àvis their counterparts. The products in new packaging designs and brands were introduced in national fairs such as Agrilink and international trade fairs such as Foodex Japan and ANUGA in Germany. These innovations can also result in increased incomes for farmers.

CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT – In the course of conducting research and development (R&D) to fulfill its mission, the ITDI takes measures to address the effects these may have on the environment and help care for mother nature. Through an environmental impact assessment, all significant impacts of ITDI’s operations, whether positive or negative, were identified and an Environmental Performance Report and Management Plan or EPRM
was prepared. This document outlines how to address the adverse effects thus identified through appropriate mitigating measures, while the positive impacts, on the other hand, were further enhanced.

The EPRMP was submitted to the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), for which an Environmental Compliance
Certificate (ECC) was issued to ITDI. The ECC serves as a planning tool that the Institute is now implementing to ensure that its operations do not have any adverse impacts on the environment and the health and welfare of researchers and neighboring communities. Its employees and researchers are also properly educated and guided through seminars.

The ITDI continues to work on projects that may result in beneficial developments or solutions both for the industrial sector and the people in, or affected by, it.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2014 issue. 

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