How Metrology Bolsters 21st-Century Manufacturing

Realigning a cornerstone of industry

Ryan E. Day

July 30, 2020

Every so often an event, invention, or idea is so momentous it changes the face of entire industries. In some ways, the global response to Covid-19 has been such an event. In the case of metrology, however, it has only underscored that the foundational requirements of test and measurement remain unchanged. The trick is how we attend to those requirements in times of social and professional distancing.

Immediate challenges

The manufacturing industry worldwide is being challenged on an unprecedented scale. One has only to look at the OSHA’s Covid-19 Guidance for the Manufacturing Workforce, or listen to the drumbeat of continuing trade wars to get an inkling of what manufacturers may have to deal with on their way to meeting their test and measurement requirements. And yet, product is still being produced. And that product is being inspected.

It’s no surprise that data from QIMA reflect that as manufacturing surges, so does the demand for inspection services. No matter the restrictions brought about by Covid-19 mitigation, metrology and well-trained metrologists are integral to manufacturing and engineering.

One can easily understand the critical need for a platform and community to support the recruiting and grooming of individuals in the metrology workforce, and those interested in entering a career in metrology. For many professionals, the Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) is that platform.

Finding solutions: the Coordinate Metrology Society

Founded in 1984, the Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) is a membership of about 500 users, service providers, and OEM manufacturers of close tolerance, industrial coordinate-measurement technology. The CMS is the preeminent organization for metrologists to avail themselves of the aggregate experience and wisdom of current and former leaders in the industry. Membership in the CMS provides metrologists with a gateway to many exclusive resources.

The CMS has always provided instructional articles, certification, and job opportunities. And now, responding to the challenges of the 21st century—including current social distancing issues—the CMS has developed several virtual resources to assist members in leveling up their career status.

“As a member of the CMS, you have access to a collective of knowledge and experience that can’t be found anywhere else.“
—Justin Novak, metrologist, Newport News Ship Building

3DMU: Online training for metrology professionals

Membership in the Coordinate Metrology Society includes access to the virtual-training website, 3D Metrology U (3DMU). Currently offering a few dozen short training videos, the recently launched 3DMU features a continually growing library of high-quality micro-videos focused on an array of coordinate metrology subjects.

Dedicated to online video training that is practical, appealing, and state-of-the-art, 3DMU offers online training for metrologists with on-demand video modules based on actual real-world situations. Deep experience with instructional systems design, education, journalism, and videography allows 3DMU to create engaging videos to assist and educate metrologists worldwide.

3DMU helps students explore the question, “How can I do this better?”

September Speaker Series

For more than 30 years, the CMS has hosted the Coordinate Metrology Society Conference (CMSC), which is the premier live conference for 3D metrology professionals. One of the main anchors of the conference are the presentations by industry experts within R&D and manufacturing. Presentation subjects cover industries such as aerospace, space hardware, antenna, automotive, shipbuilding, power generation, and general engineering.

“The CMS conference presentations provide a unique opportunity to learn from other professionals from all over the world,” says Jana Barker, Geodesist, Alignment and Metrology Department, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. “I find presentations from other parts [of the metrology field] bring a fresh perspective to the challenges I face at work and help to deepen my knowledge and to make me a more versatile metrologist.”

However, because the Covid-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc with live events, the CMS will host high-level presentations in the form of its virtual September Speaker Series for 2020.

For the series, the CMS is filming presentations of technical papers that cover topics like robotic arm compensation with laser trackers, simple methods for dynamically testing laser trackers in the field, a case study of an automated fuselage pre-join, and more.

Additionally, CMS will host live virtual events weekly for three weeks beginning September 7, 2020, including three “Women in Metrology” cocktail parties via Zoom, as well as three sessions on metrology career development.

“The conference also provides an exceptional opportunity for professional development: I can be visible to the community by presenting my work and research.”
—Jana Barker, geodesist, Alignment and Metrology Department, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Beyond portable metrology

Although the CMS has traditionally been thought of as a clearinghouse of portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) information, the foundation and functional theory of fixed CMMs is essentially the same.

Recognizing that the coordinate metrology discipline includes fixed CMMs as well as portable systems, the CMS is broadening its focus to include the particulars of those fixed systems. This inclusive mindset was on full display at the 2019 Coordinate Metrology Society Conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference’s “Measurement Zone” (pictured above) featured several fixed CMM systems.

Again, even as our world roils through the myriad changes that are inevitable, manufacturing is still the backbone of any healthy economy—and metrology is still the backbone of manufacturing. So go measure and build. But before you measure, stop by the CMS and say hello to thousands of like-minded individuals from all over the world.

About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20 lb tabby cat at his side.