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Taking a measured approach

Posted: 22 May 2017
Did you know that the metre is defined based on the speed of light? And how can you be sure that there was actually 750ml in that bottle of wine that seemed to empty so quickly?

Metrology - the study of measurement – is critical to the existence of humanity, says Dr Fleur Francois, Director of the Measurement Standards Laboratory at Callaghan Innovation. It’s the reason that your flight from Wellington to Auckland gets you there safely, that new techniques to improve healthcare are continually being developed, and that 500 grams of butter weighs exactly the same in the UK as it does here in NZ. Across continents and cultures, it establishes a common understanding and enables confidence in the measurements that are made during these processes.

Callaghan Innovation’s Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL) is NZ’s official standards body for measurement. The team’s knowledge and expertise around measurement helps businesses with their research and development, to meet regulatory compliance requirements, and to gain access to international markets. Our experts have worked with businesses ranging from food and beverage manufacturers to digital effects companies. 

We were last week honoured to host a senior delegation of Chinese government officials at our Gracefield base, who were visiting to learn more about how New Zealand encourages innovation and the way MSL supports businesses through providing high-quality and traceable measurements. 

China is a key science and innovation partner for NZ, and MSL is exploring opportunities for future collaboration to address emerging technologies. The widespread deployment of electric vehicles, and the creation of wireless power transfer, as examples, will challenge our existing measurement capabilities.

Chinese government officials visit MSL at Gracefield
Dr Fleur Francois (yellow jacket) welcomes the Chinese delegation at MSL’s Gracefield headquarters

May 20 was World Metrology Day and tomorrow, MSL will commemorate the 1875 signing of the Metre Convention at an event in Auckland with our colleagues from the Metrology Society of Australasia.  The Metre Convention provides the basis for a coherent measurement system worldwide that underpins scientific discovery and innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade, as well as improving quality of life and protecting the environment.

The theme for World Metrology Day 2017 is “Measurements for Transport”.  The economy depends on safe and efficient modes of transport with minimal environmental impact, and this rapidly evolving industry is crucially supported by an astonishing range of measurements. MSL provides, for example, traceable measurements for the aviation industry that ensure planes fly safely.

Across the world, national metrology institutes are continually developing and validating new measurement techniques to support industry needs.  These advances play a central role in bringing new solutions to the transport sector: innovations such as hydrogen fuel cells, electric or driverless vehicles, or new generations of fuel-efficient passenger jets.

Metrology – it makes the world go round, and life a whole lot easier.

Watch this video from the VSL Dutch Metrology Institute to learn more about the importance of measurement infrastructure: 

  • Watch Fleur’s 2-minute video on how rapidly changing science and technology around measurement can help businesses save money, solve R&D challenges, and verify their product and technology claims: How measurement can cut millions out of your expenses
  • You can contact Fleur on Twitter @DrFleurNZ

 

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