New MSL Laboratories

News | 11 June 2020

Nearly two years on from turning the first sod, MSL now has a new Laboratory.

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Image above: Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Research, Science and Innovation, Hon Dr Megan Woods along with Callaghan Innovation Senior Leaders enjoyed a preview of the new building prior to keys being handed over to MSL.

Electrical Standards prepare to move

After many months of anticipation, our Electrical Standards team can confirm the desired environmental control stability has been achieved in the new laboratory and the complex process of moving in can commence. Moving standards without loosing traceability requires a lot of planning and a great amount of attention to detail. 

With the nature of our services, many of our instruments are incredibly sensitive making the short trip between the old and new laboratories a delicate process.  The move project has been phased to ensure the least risk, so following the moved between buildings, there will be a period of set up and recommissioning to ensure each set-up is functioning as it should. Hence, we would like to advise our customers to expect periods of disruption where services may not be available between January and July 2022.  We will do our best to mitigate this but expect to be fully operational from from mid August 2022. 

Update 31 March 2021

We have successfully moved Temperature Standards into the new laboratories and, while some small adjustments continue to be made, we are fully operational and accepting commercial calibrations. This has been a challenging exercise but the new space is exceptional and much appreciated by the MSL team.

However, the environmental control required within the Electrical Standards laboratory (20 °C ± 0.1 °C) has, unfortunately, not yet been achieved.

The Electrical Standards team has been working with Mechanical Services Engineering experts on finding a solution for the HVAC issues. There is currently a pilot solution being tested in the laboratory based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling. We have made good progress validating our CFD modelling, and physical piloting has recorded significant improvements in temperature and velocity balancing, along with improvements to the temperature delivered at the bench.

Installation of our screened rooms is due to commence in July with engineers travelling from Australia. 

The Electrical Standards team remains fully functional in the old laboratory and is still hoping to complete the move into the new laboratory before Christmas.

Update 15 September 2020

Environmental testing and base lining in the new building has been extended while we complete a number of minor modifications to get conditions optimised.

We are continuing with base lining measurements for the Temperature standards laboratories and these will be completed early October 2020.  At that point we are expecting to commence moving in.

For the Electrical standards laboratories our first set of base lining did not meet the high tolerances we require and are piloting some modifications. It is expected that a second set of base lining measurements will be completed December 2020.  This will then enable us to start moving our electrical team in.

We can be contacted by email:, phone 04 931 3000 or through the contact us(external link) page on our website.

We will keep this page updated as our move progresses, so stay tuned here for more.

News 11 June 2020

After starting construction in October 2018, the new building for MSL’s Electrical and Temperature teams is ready to handover to MSL in June, with the fit-out project completed last week.

This is the first new purpose built laboratory at Callaghan Innovation’s Gracefield site in 10 years and is the first part of a larger programme of work upgrading and future-proofing aging research facilities.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have completed the construction and fit-out of the new building for MSL,” says Hayden Whelan, Programme Manager. “This is the first new building at Gracefield for more than a decade, and it has been a huge team effort to deliver a building that meets MSL’s future needs.”

Unfortunately impacted by COVID-19, only installation of the screened rooms remain to be completed for electrical standards once the border restrictions are lifted and the overseas experts can enter New Zealand. 

The Callaghan Innovation  Facilities Team are now able to get the building ready for use. This includes installing the digital systems, building safety including fire extinguishers and first aid kits, and getting bathrooms and kitchen areas ready.

MSL Director Fleur Francois is looking forward to getting the keys. “We cannot wait to take possession of the building later this month and have the final elements completed soon. Most importantly our people will be working in a safe environment, but we are also looking forward to improved business resilience to ensure we can deliver for our customers and having a facility we can proudly host visitors in and improve collaboration.”

Tackling a globally unique move-in project will be a challenge, says Fleur. “The complexity of the move-in project is because we have to maintain traceability of all standards, while continuing to operate as a national metrology laboratory.”

In the first 2-3 months before any equipment is moved into the new building the team will gather environmental information to understand how the building environment performs and how this will impact equipment performance. Once this baselining work is complete, a staged move of the equipment will take place over a 12-month period, with a focus on quality and safety to ensure the new set ups are stable, operating as expected, and can be used for traceable measurements.

“Once fully complete and operational the new building will provide significant benefits for MSL and Callaghan Innovation,” says Fleur. “We are looking forward to officially opening the building next year and celebrating with our customers and key stakeholders.”

Construction time-lapse video

The construction of this building has spanned 18months and while the exterior is quite simple but slick in design, the interior is where significant design aspects provide a complex and technologically advanced laboratory.  Check out the video on our You Tube Channel(external link) to see how the building took shape from day one.