There are several benefits of this proficiency testing scheme. It facilitates comparison of the quality of laboratories, testing techniques and quality of cement in Africa. This is because proficiency testing is a quality management tool (Schmidt et al., 2013) and when applied effectively can aid in guiding participants in improving quality. Thus all participating laboratories
will be able to compare results with their peer institutions. This is good for the cement industry in Africa as it will promote improvements in performance among participating laboratories as each will want to provide the best results, consequently improving the overall quality of the laboratories performance in Africa.
The PACE-PTS program has seen a steady increase in participation by laboratories. Participating laboratories are able to evaluate their testing techniques to ensure they do not fall outside the acceptable limits. The laboratories participating have the opportunity to record and observe the result of their testing over a period and notice any significant trends. This will assist in determining the kind of action the lab will need to take. Furthermore consistent participation by laboratories in this scheme will help the laboratories display the quality of their results. This could aid the laboratories in attracting more business, as customers will trust the qualified laboratories and also assist the laboratories in acquiring accreditation from third party accreditation agencies. This is important for African laboratories as this will help in funding for the labs as customers get attracted and also help the laboratories effectively monitor their results and remediate when necessary. According to ISA/IEC 17025: 2005, participation in proficiency schemes is mandatory, thus African laboratories participating in the round robin tests will have met this requirement.
The comparison of results by all the laboratories will assist laboratories that fall below their peers rectify the issue. This could be in the form of requesting for funds from administration to enable the laboratory acquire required equipment, or by the laboratories getting direct facilitation to purchase needed equipment through the scheme. The comparison of the results will help African laboratories identify their position against their peers and act accordingly to ensure their results are up to the required standard. This would also help laboratories that find themselves below average motivate strongly for appropriate funding to enable them execute their respective mandates effectively.
The proficiency testing scheme assists in assessing the administrative aspect of the laboratories as only the final results are requested and not the raw data. This will greatly assist African laboratories in assessing performance of administrative officers, which will help in enforcing quality control.
It is of great value that the African wide cement testing scheme be encouraged as this is in line with the technological demands of the growing African cement market. This is true as the proficiency test will improve the quality of the standard of the laboratories, thus improving the results being received from these laboratories. This could also help African laboratories in developing more areas that need further research.
Special items of the PACE-PTS
Besides the benefit of receiving the technical results of the scheme, another benefit is the networking among the partners. During the first PACE-PTS a kick-off workshop was organised for all participating partners. The objective of this workshop was to set up a reasonable framework for the testing and to agree upon a reasonable texting framework. This kick-off workshop that set the boundary framework for all future proficiency testing schemes, took place in Dar es Salaam.
Later the results were discussed in a final workshop taking place in Berlin.