What Is Metrology and Why Does It Matter?

Most things in modern society are now measured against a standard that determines whether or not an object meets a baseline for quality. If it falls short of the known standard, consumers could feel within their rights to demand a refund. In worst-case scenarios, shortcomings and lack of precision in measurements can lead to devastating consequences for people’s health and safety.

Herein lies the value of metrology: providing a shared language for measurement that people across continents and industries can use to achieve uniformity and order within their respective niches. Metrology is essential for establishing quality standards and maintaining harmony within and across interrelated sectors. 

What is metrology? And why is it crucial for fields that are even the slightest bit scientific or dependent on technology? We offer a concise explanation and information on the different types of metrology in this article.

What Is Metrology?

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (Le Bureau International des poids et mesures), or BIPM, defines metrology as the science of measurement that explores experimental and theoretical determinations in any field of science and technology that deals with various degrees of uncertainty.

Quite simply, metrology establishes systems of measuring units that are universally followed and applied in day-to-day activities, from households to production and manufacturing facilities. 

Measurements are the most reliable and constant unifying factor in the world. Across diverse cultures, languages, belief systems and behavioral norms, units of measurement remain constant and recognizable. Even when unit names change due to localization, one can count on people to recognize units of measure when they see them.

Three Types of Metrology

We can classify metrology into three disciplines:

  1. Scientific Metrology
  2. Legal Metrology
  3. Industrial Metrology

Scientific Metrology: Theory and Conceptualization

Scientific metrology primarily involves research and new technologies that benefit various industries and sectors, including the government, healthcare and commercial manufacturing. 

Measuring units must be universal and widely accepted by industries and communities that stand to benefit from having such a system. Scientific metrology meets these needs by addressing three essential areas:

  • Establishing Units of Measurement 

As new fields of study emerge, so does the need for developing new frameworks for internationally-accepted measurement units, like the SI (International System of Units) and Metric System. 

Standardization of measurements is crucial for new industries because it gives manufacturers a common ground when establishing quality standards. Establishing new units of measurement is also necessary for developing new technologies. New market players, manufacturers or producers, need them to introduce new products and stimulate market activity.

  • Organizing and Developing Measuring Standards 

Setting the standards for measuring units and scales is vital at the organizational level because it helps people communicate better. When people have defined units and scales, there’s less potential for confusion and errors in production and throughout the supply chain process.

  • Publishing Standards for Public Use

Scientific metrology ensures that units and scales are adopted effectively within an organization and throughout an economy. More importantly, it ensures that measurement standards are widely disseminated among users within an economy. 

Legal Metrology: Enforcement and Regulation

This field of metrology doesn’t utilize physical instruments for measurement. Instead, it deals with regulation. It is concerned with transparency and ensuring that correct measurements are observed. They are mainly concerned with ensuring public safety, consumer protection, environmental protection and fair trade. 

Legal metrologists outline the guidelines and laws that regulate measuring instruments used in manufacturing or trade, for example. They inspect and verify the integrity of measuring instruments and perform quality control checks on supply chain processes, ensuring they comply with existing laws and regulations. Legal metrologists are responsible for writing and enforcing rules and outlining legal traceability for measurements.

Industrial Metrology: Practical Applications

Industrial metrology takes newly established measuring units and, mindful of the regulations and standards set by legal metrologists, applies them to various processes that are useful in society. Industrial metrologists ensure that measuring instruments are compliant, correctly calibrated, meet quality control standards and operate at peak performance.

Examples of industrial metrology in action are:

  • Designing and testing an aircraft
  • Designing and manufacturing parts for large machinery, automobiles, electronics, etc.
  • Developing commercial production and packaging lines.
  • Formulating medications in pharmaceutical companies
  • Testing work safety compliance in facilities with risks of radiation

Industrial metrology demonstrates the importance of metrology as a whole, that without established, regulated units of measurement, mass production of safe, legally-compliant products would be difficult, even impossible.  

Maintain High Manufacturing Standards With Metrology

Working with metrology professionals gives manufacturers access to specialists with high technical competence in quality assurance and compliance. This applies to a wide range of industries, including manufacturing (i.e., automotive, medical equipment, pharmaceutical products, etc.), CNC machining, food production and supply chain management.

With metrology, companies can produce with higher efficiency and accuracy. Since metrology improves precision, companies can reduce manufacturing waste, optimize resources and increase production output without sacrificing quality.

ATT Metrology Solutions helps companies achieve these goals. With over 35 years of experience and state-of-the-art equipment and software, we are highly qualified to provide your business with metrology services and integrated solutions. If you want in-depth knowledge of what metrology is and its potential benefits to your operations, we’ll gladly discuss them and all options available to you.

Contact us to schedule an appointment and request a quote.