MAASIN CITY, Feb. 19 (PIA) -- The Southern Leyte District Engineering Office (SLDEO) is upgrading its existing laboratory equipment for materials testing following the approval of a proposed fund in the amount of P5 million for this purpose.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) testing laboratories, as the name implies, test, examine, calibrate, and determine the characteristics or performances of materials.

The upcoming upgrade will raise the DPWH-SLDEO’s materials testing capability and enhance the quality project implementation of the department, District Engineer Ma. Margarita Junia said in a press statement.

“It will take us hours to drive hundreds of kilometers to the nearest testing center equipped with complete laboratory equipment just to submit materials samples,” DE Junia said.

“It would surely be a relief to all parties involved in the project implementation if our office laboratory be upgraded and be capable of conducting various construction materials testing,” she added.

Among the equipment and apparatus that will be procured are cement tube and Le Chatelier flask for density test of hydraulic cement, compression device to test strength of cement, ductility machine, digital electronic equipment for asphalt cement penetration test, saybolt digital viscometer for viscosity test, specific gravity frame of compacted bitominous mixture, and TFOT bitumen oven, to name some.

“The office is now in the process of complying with all the requirements needed to qualify for a two-star rating laboratory,” said Junia.

The DPWH system classifies testing laboratories into one-Star, two-Star, or three-Star categories based on the following criteria: availability of testing equipment and apparatus, competence and accreditation of personnel, observance of health and safety standards, working area of the laboratory, calibration of apparatus or equipment, and third party certification, the press statement said.

A star rating system for testing laboratories of the regional and district offices were adopted in 2013 to enhance the materials testing of the infrastructure agency and improve quality control of project implementation, the press statement pointed out.

Meanwhile, Engr. Leonides Olarte, quality assurance chief, said procuring high-value equipment and increasing working space would greatly improve the laboratory’s output on quality assurance.

“With this, we can now conduct tests more effectively and efficiently which is very necessary in ensuring the quality of projects amidst the increasing number of infrastructure projects every year,” Olarte said. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)