Metrology

Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement. It is a field of study which has been highly politicized and nationalized with sharp even severe rhetoric as the field progressed.

Mechanisms of metrologyEdit

At the base of metrology is the definition, realisation and dissimination of units of measurement. Physical or chemical properties are quantised by assigning a property value in some multiple of a measurement unit.

The basic 'lineage' of measurement standards are:

  1. The definition of a unit, based on some physical constant, such as absolute zero, the freezing point of water, etc; or an agreed-upon arbitrary standard.
  2. The realisation of the unit by experimental methods and the scaling into multiples and submultiples, by establishment of primary standards. In some cases an approximation is used, when the realisation of the units is less precise than other methods of generating a scale of the quantity in question. This is presently the situation for the electrical units in the SI, where voltage and resistance are defined in terms of the ampere, but are used in practice from realisations based on the Josephson effect and the quantised Hall effect.
  3. the transfer of traceability from the primary standards to secondary and working standards. This is achieved by calibration.

Theoretically, metrology, as the science of measurement, attempts to validate the data obtained from test equipment. Though metrology is the science of measurement, in practical applications, it is the enforcement and validation of predefined standards for precision, accuracy, traceability, and reliability. These standards can vary widely, but are often mandated but governments, agencies, and treaties such as the International Organization for Standardization, the Metre Convention, or the FDA. These agencies promulgate policies and regulations that standardize industries, countries, and streamline international trade, products, and measurements. Metrology is, at its core, an analysis of the uncertainty of individual measurements, and attempts to validate each measurement made with a given instrument, and the data obtained from it. The dissemination of traceability to consumers in society is often performed by dedicated calibration laboratory with a recognized quality system in compliance with such standards. National laboratory accreditation schemes have been established to offer third-party assessment of such quality systems. A central requirement of these accreditations is documented traceability to national or international standards.

Some common standards include

  • ISO 17025:2005 - General Requirements for Calibration Laboratories
  • ISO 9000 - Quality Systems Management
  • ISO 14000 - Environmental Management
  • 21 CFR Part 210/211 - FDA Regulations concerning GMP (Good Maintenance Practices) Quality Systems
  • 21 CFR Part 110 - FDA Regulations concerning Food Industry GMP's

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