Occasionally the measurements required on an assembly are so exacting that the fab shop, the site team, and the designer call up the specialized services of a metrologist. Better technology can cut down on these expensive house calls.
During the pandemic, many of us have turned our hands to baking bread. We measure out all the ingredients, knead the dough, ferment it in a warm place, shape the dough into a loaf or a pan of buns, proof it and bake. But there’s a huge difference between a professional baker and a pandemic amateur. For example, to the pro baker, baking is a precise chemical process, ingredients are weighed to the nearest gram, including the water, and water temperature is adjusted because of the friction effects of kneading. The pro baker can scale any recipe up or down to any required volume to meet the market needs of the commercial bakery.
A weekend kitchen hacker, on the other hand, relies on volume (such as cups and teaspoons), and as a result, many tons of pandemic flour have been wasted as they tried to figure out the intricacies of sourdough.
Like bakeries, many industries have their own recipes, and they typically feature robust measuring systems to control conditions, deliver consistent outcomes, and guarantee results. The metrologist is a professional that is skilled in the practice and science of measurement. They play critical roles across food sciences, electrical and electronics, petrochemicals, healthcare, and manufacturing, helping to build assemblies and sub-assemblies, complete prototypes, tune measurement instruments, establish methods for controlling processes, and inspect works.
Metrologists must be well educated, often with engineering degrees and special certifications, because of the exacting nature of their work. Get the recipe wrong, misinterpret the design, or use a confusing metric, and those who are trying to follow the recipe will meet with disappointing, and sometimes disastrous results. To be successful, metrologists must hold a strong grasp of instrumentation engineering in the industrial setting. They frequently need to work with other engineering disciplines to develop new ways to measure things.
Skilled metrologists are in high demand because of the wide range of measurement needs in an industrialized society:
In the fabrication industry, the recipe is the 2D drawings of the assembly to be fitted.
A complex assembly, say a large vessel with considerable spooling, multiple interfaces, an elaborate mounting, may carry enough cost and risk that the engineering designer is concerned about its fabrication. Perhaps the assembly has been structured as multiple packages of work, distributed to several shops, and the various components need to fit precisely. Perhaps the metals involved are costly and errors cannot be easily remedied at the site. Perhaps the assembly is to be installed deep inside a plant setting and the consequences of any errors could be catastrophic. Or perhaps the standards of construction are tightly regulated, as is typical in the nuclear industry.
In such instances, the engineering firm may well wish to retain a metrologist to double-check the measurements on all of the packages of work, the tools used, and the foundations and interfaces at the asset installation site. This comes at a cost, of course, in time and wages. During the pandemic, travel has been highly curtailed and even shut down between some countries.
New technology, tools, and techniques may not fully replace the metrologist but can help minimize the reliance on these expensive professionals. Using a three-dimensional scanner to capture a detailed, accurate and precise 3D representation of an assembly enables the fabricator to carry out an unlimited number of measures of compliance with the design. 3D scans of the as-built sub-assemblies can be mated with each other virtually to confirm fit. The software tools are even able to identify where there are undetectable flaws in the assembly, such as surface blemishes, that may turn out to be material. Critical measures from the design carry over to the analysis of the as-built to ensure that the as-built measures up.
And all of this activity, the comparisons, the testing, and the inspection work of the metrologist, can be carried out virtually and remotely, where travel is a problem.
Put an end to expensive and unnecessary calls to scarce measurement professionals, and let technology do the job.
See how you can get the most out of your 3D scanning technology with Glove Systems.
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