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Chuck Pfeffer


Night of the Living Uncertified

Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 09:56

It was a dark and stormy evening as the graveyard shift started at Frankenstein’s Precision Parts. Tonight was the night: All of the parts for the Reanimation order were ready for inspection. The contracted inspector was due at midnight.

Just as the clock struck 12, a bolt of lightning shook the building, and the inspector limped into the room. He was at least seven feet tall, and weighed more than 400 pounds. His bald, scarred head glistened from the soaking rain outside. Behind him was a large crate, with the words “Certified Metrology Equipment” etched in Gothic script on the side.

This monster of a man grunted, handed the certification papers for his metrology equipment to the night shift manager, and proceeded to set up his system. The future of the company was relying on these parts to be accurate.

The manager looked closely at the papers and quickly noticed something was missing. He tilted his head and leaned into a back step to look up at the inspector and said, “I see your equipment is traceable and certified, but how do I know you are qualified?”

The scary fact is… there is no certification for personnel using portable 3-D metrology equipment.

In 2009, the Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) heard this cry loud and clear, and began a journey to do something about it.  A formal committee was established to justify the need, develop a body of knowledge, and formulate a plan to establish a certification program. In conjunction with this effort, the Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC) has hosted annual meetings of the committee, inviting CMS members to participate in the process.

In 2010 and 2011, the CMS also hosted live measurement studies with conference attendees to collect real data, which support the premise that behavior impacts measurement. The results of the 2011 study are now posted on the CMS website, and I invite you to read this report to find out what is most important in making good measurements, regardless of what equipment is used.

The third-shift manager at Frankenstein’s Precision Parts may not have much of a chance with his uncertified inspector, but with the efforts of the CMS certification committee, this horror story should become an urban legend. The committee’s goal is to be at the final stages of establishing a certification exam by the time CMSC 2012 rolls around next July 16–20 in New Orleans. Not only will this program establish a population of qualified metrologists, it will also raise the bar on their work product, which in turn will grow the industry.


About The Author

Chuck Pfeffer’s picture

Chuck Pfeffer

Chuck Pfeffer, director of product management, 3-D imaging at FARO Technologies Inc., is the chair for the 2012 Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC) and has served on the CMSC Executive Committee for the past five years. He coordinated the conference workshops and participated on the Metrology Certification Sub-Committee. Pfeffer also is an active member of the Society for Manufacturing Engineers (SME) 3D Imaging Tech Group.