Metrology is the study, application and regulation of measurement. The following examples of metrology and its subfields can help you understand why manufacturers, consumers and scientists need to take measurement seriously.
The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) is the regulatory body that sets the standards for all forms of measurement within the fields of science and technology. In genereal, metrology provides the uniformity required for scientific accuracy and replication. In particular, legal metrology promotesconsumer protection and fair trade. For instance, when you put fuel in your car you trust that the pump is delivering the right amount of gasoline. The BIPM is the entity that has built your trust. No matter where you drive or what gas station you choose to use, there is a legally regulated method of filling up your tank.
Scientific and technological advances occur daily across the globe. Right now, companies are competing to produce an affordable, long-lasting, multi-use battery that is safe for consumers. In the process of developing this battery, inventors and scientists experiment with a variety of materials. Companies like Tesla and Advano are experimenting with lithium-silicon wafers to develop long-lived electric car batteries.
Advano is using solar panel scraps to create silicon anodes that help power the batteries. This re-use would not be possible if there were no regulations on the design of solar panels or silicon wafers.
In addition, Advano scientists must create manufacturing processes that can be replicated in various facilities to create products that can be used across the world. In this sense, applied metrology fosters free trade. Producers in one area of the world can ship goods to companies in other regions with both parties trusting the efficacy of the product. Whether it’s a measurement of centimeters, voltage or something else entirely, the BIPM investigates its application and sets a standard.
This is the branch of metrology that includes scientists who research and study past and present trends in measurement. Scientific metrology studies developments in measurement, organizes measurement data and maintains standards that were first established in 1875 under an international treaty.
The standardization of measurement is a three-step process. Scientific metrology is the first step. It all connects like this: BIPM scientists might observe and question how Advano and other companies are managing the manufacture of silicon anodes. Based on the information that is collected, scientific metrologists will standardize the way in which silicone anodes are precisely created in the manufacturing process. Legal metrologists will enforce those standards. Manufacturers will continue to apply those processes during production.
The study of measurement might seem petty at first glance. When put into practice, a person can appreciate how metrology protects consumers and fosters free trade. Don’t take that gallon of freshly-pumped gas for granted. There’s an entire army of metrologists who made it possible.