Metrology is the science of measurement and its applications. It includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement, whatever the measurement uncertainty and field of application. It embraces both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology,” as defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM, 2004).
Metrology is everywhere and we use measurement for so many aspects everyday. Even small things like telling the time is measurement. We fill our cars with fuel by volume, we buy our groceries by weight, we consume electricity, gas and water which are billed based on measurements. On the other hand metrology aids fair trade by having harmonized written standards, consistent measurement standards and internationally accepted certificates.
Metrology drives innovation, supports regulation and advances the protection of citizens.
Metrology, the science of measurement, covers three main activities:
- The definition of internationally accepted units of measurement, e.g. the metre.
- The realisation of units of measurement by scientific methods, e.g. the realisation of a metre through the use of lasers.
- The establishment of traceability chains by determining and documenting the value and accuracy of a measurement and disseminating that knowledge, e.g. the documented relationship between the micrometer screw in a precision engineering workshop and a primary laboratory for optical length metrology.
Metrology is separated into three categories with different levels of complexity and accuracy:
- Scientific metrology deals with the organisation and development of measurement standards and with their maintenance (highest level).
- Industrial metrology has to ensure the adequate functioning of measurement instruments used in industry, in production and testing processes, for ensuring quality of life for citizens and for academic research.
- Legal metrology is concerned with measurements where these influence the transparency of economic transactions, particularly where there is a requirement for legal verification of the measuring instrument.