QMT Features: April 2015
How to meet your measurement needs in 2015
The first of a series of articles designed to help QMT readers in their everyday measurement needs from Keith Bevan, the Delivery Manager for Training at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).


We are working with QMT to help readers understand the value of metrology, and particularly dimensional metrology to their daily lives. Over a series of articles we will help you to meet your metrology needs in 2015, to evaluate where the need is, and provide you with the good practice approach to make the right measurements in the correct way.

We want to share the expertise developed over many years at NPL, to pass on the type of measurement good practice that we encourage through our written publications and training courses. Much is made of measurement good practice but how do we define this term? The guiding principles that we use to define measurement good practice are:

  • The right measurements - measurements should only be made to satisfy agreed and well-specified requirements.
  • The right tools - measurements should be made using equipment and methods that have been demonstrated to be fit for purpose.
  • The right people - measurement staff should be competent, properly qualified and well informed.
  • Regular review - there should be both internal and independent assessment of the technical performance of all measurement facilities and procedures.
  • Demonstrable consistency - measurements made in one location should be consistent with those made elsewhere.
  • The right procedures - well-defined procedures consistent with national or international standards should be in place for all measurements.


These principles underpin our training programmes and form the basis of our measurement good practice guides. There are now more than 130 guides and over ten percent of them relate to dimensional measurement, providing a valued professional tool to those working in quality and assurance. These are very popular with hundreds of copies being downloaded every month. In November 2014 ‘Fundamental Good Practice in Dimensional Metrology’ was downloaded 195 times, ‘Callipers and Micrometers’ 187 times, ‘CMM Measurement Strategies’ 162 times and ‘Dimensional Measurement Using Vision Systems’ 128 times.

The guiding principles behind the guides and training programmes will also be at the heart of this series of articles, passing on the basics of a sound approach to measurement that will help you to improve your quality management processes. The aim is to encourage you to make a difference within your workplaces, to give you the skills and confidence to make small improvements to operational procedures that could deliver a return for your employers and improve your own job satisfaction.

The articles will be designed to prompt you to ask the right questions before, during, and after a measurement. It does not provide the answers to those questions, but will offer enough to ensure you know where to look for them in the context of your measurement need. By doing this, it will help you make better measurements in your workplaces.

The advice and tips we share will be based on the fundamentals that lie behind NPL’s established training programme and good practice guides. These guides have been regularly updated over years to ensure they contain the latest thinking, knowledge and research.


The aim of the articles will be a snapshot of our basic introduction to metrology course, which aims to introduce measurement to delegates and show them its value to industry and society, and how it can underpin quality assurance.


A recent learner to complete the course was Nathanael Turner, an Engineering Doctorate student on a four-year placement at the Manufacturing Technology Centre. Nathanael took the course as an e- training module, making it easier to be flexible around his work and study. “I had a reasonable understanding of measurement in terms of dimensional measurement before the course, but wasn’t aware of the wider aspects to metrology or NPL,” he said. “It [the course] taught me things about the history of metrology and its importance to wider society and the economy that I had never thought of before.”


Over five articles we will help you to understand what you need to establish a culture of good practice and continuous improvement within your organisation. Ultimately this understanding will lead to a decrease in errors and an increase in productivity, less need for technical support, reduced waste and re-works, better quality and accuracy and improved decision-making, questioning and planning culture.


The series of articles can be collated to become a checklist that you can refer back to when thinking about a measurement need. The first article, to be published in our next issue, will examine the preliminary actions you need to consider before you plan any measurement task.
www.npl.co.uk

  
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