Solid Cement Corp, Philippines, yesterday assailed a government-run cement testing lab which had given its Island Portland Cement brand a failing mark, saying the facility is outdated and in poor condition. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) lifted an Aug. 12 ban on Island Cement last Monday, but the failing mark given by the Department of Public Works and Highways’ Bureau of Research Standards prompted the DTI’s legal office, which is hearing a complaint versus Solid Cement, to order a monthly product audit and monitoring until such time that authorities are satisfied that product quality is more or less consistent.
Island Cement samples have passed a series of tests conducted by four private labs, namely Philippine Geo-Analytics, Inc., the Cement Testing Center, Solid Cement’s own testing facility, and Construction Technology Laboratories, Inc., the largest cement testing center in the US. Results from all four labs indicated that Island Cement passed the minimum compressive strength for three test periods: three-day (12.4 megapascals or MPa), seven-day (19.3 MPa), and 28-day (27.6 MPa).
Solid Cement spokesman Paul Victor Aquino attributed the "discrepancy" to conditions and procedures at the Bureau of Research Standards. "Last time we visited the facilities... they were still using a 1964 laboratory manual. For these tests, they used a mixer [that is] noncompliant with the standard, so the cement was not properly mixed with the sand and gravel. By the way, after the tests, they upgraded the mixer," he said. "They also did not have an atmosphere room that is now standard in all testing centers," Mr. Aquino added. An atmosphere room is needed to control humidity and other environmental factors, he said.
Solid Cement quality assurance chief Laura Castro said the environment in which the test samples are stored and the laboratory conditions in which tests are undertaken "determine significantly the accuracy of test results." "Excessive temperature, dust, moisture, steam, vibration, electromagnetic disturbance, and interference are all factors that can greatly influence test results. Furthermore, the size and conditions of the testing laboratory, equipment used, and devices to monitor environmental conditions are important in conducting tests," she said.