Measure for Measure

New Pathways for Metrology
Rich Wilhelm

Going back to the ancient days of the cubit, metrology — the science of measurement— has been at the foundation of industry, technology, commerce, and so much more. Measurement serves diverse needs, from assuring that the parties in a deal agree on what is being exchanged to making sure that the ingredients weigh same for everyone who uses a recipe. The rapid advance of technology has further emphasized the overall importance of metrology.

In April, ASTM International and NCSL International, two global organizations whose members share an interest in metrology, signed a memorandum of understanding. Metrology cuts across many industries represented by ASTM International’s more than 140 technical committees.

The MOU was signed at ASTM International’s global headquarters during the meeting of its committee on quality and statistics (E11). Simultaneously, ASTM International launched an E11 subcommittee devoted to metrology, which involves many members of NCSL International.

“Collaboration throughout the measurement science community has been an NCSLI priority for years,” said Craig Gulka, executive director of NCSL International. “The missions of both organizations go hand in hand, and there is a need for sharing measurement science information across industries, so we are well aligned for this partnership.” 

The MOU was signed by Gulka (shown in the photo, seated, left) and Dan Smith (seated, right), vice president of technical committee operations at ASTM International.

Collaboration between the organizations dates back to a jointly sponsored workshop in 2014 on the topic of temperature. The idea for an MOU moved forward as Ralph Paroli, ASTM International’s 2016 board chairman, gave the opening keynote address at the NCSLI Workshop and Symposium last year.

“Issues such as metrological traceability, which links measurement systems around the world, are becoming more and more important to governments, businesses, and society as a whole,” said Andrew Oldershaw, sector leader in measurement systems engagement at the National Research Council of Canada, where Paroli works as director of R&D in measurement science and standards. “The new MOU and the new subcommittee could play an important role in helping national metrology institutes, laboratories, the accreditation community, and many others who depend on credible and independent methods and practices.”

Organizers say the collaboration could involve standards development and other activities related to:

  • Measurement methods for calibration, measurement-focused implementation, and interpretation guides for higher level requirements;
  • Verification and validation of measurement methods;
  • Quality management for measurement systems;
  • Measurement risk management in metrology; and 
  • More.

 Standards developed by the metrology subcommittee will potentially be used by many other ASTM committees, but particularly by the committees on accreditation and certification (E36) and SI practice (E43). 

All those interested are encouraged to join the new ASTM metrology subcommittee. More information can be found at the homepage of ASTM’s quality and statistics committee.

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