Metrology: Standardize and Automate!

by Mark Kuster

Metrology revolves around standards—measurement standards, normative standards, standard measurement practices, etc.—to achieve consistent quality results. To remain competitive, metrology, like other industries, also depends on automation and standardized interoperability to attain and enhance that quality at reduced cost. Witness the long history of automated calibration software and the more recent laboratory management systems. But metrology encompasses more than just calibration and workload management: Consider documentation, uncertainty analysis, conformance testing risk analysis, service procurement, accreditation, interlaboratory comparisons and proficiency tests, specification use and development, product inspections, etc. How many tasks have we standardized and automated, and how many consume resources at every repetition? Why do we still handle paper calibration certificates and their PDF cousins, and manually search accreditation scopes? Why don’t our certificates contain full traceability chains? Do we provide customers obviously valuable services or just increase their overhead costs? This paper highlights some technological opportunities that the measurement community has not embraced widely, if at all, and suggests that more aggressive standardized information infrastructure adoption would help meet global economic and quality challenges.