Engineers go through extensive training to gain a degree in engineering. This enables them to begin the real task of learning essential skills and continuing training on the job. However, there is one field of education that is seriously lacking in engineering schools, and that is metrology.
What is Metrology?
Metrology is the science of measurement in the simplest of terms. It is the way that manufacturers ensure all component parts fit and work correctly. It is also an essential part of the inspection process.
A manufacturer will be considering not just the cost of a project, but the reliability and accuracy of production to ensure that there is little waste. Where the measurement is carried out in the process will be dependent upon the type of industry that is using it.
Engineers will benefit hugely from knowledge in the fundamentals of geometric dimensioning and tolerances, which is often referred to as GD&T. The engineering drawings and 3D CAD models use this GD&T to communicate the dimensions and tolerances to the manufacturing and quality workers. An engineer that doesn’t know how to communicate the GD&T effectively will most likely fail to achieve the desired outcome of the project.
Reasons Understanding Metrology is Important
The purpose of engineering design is to convey all the information that is necessary for the manufacturing team to create the correct parts that enable the assembly to run smoothly and create a finished product that is of the highest standard.
An engineering drawing will need to consider the intent of the design, i.e. what is its purpose, the process of manufacturing and the people involved in this, and finally the inspection and verification process.
If the fundamentals of GD&T are not fully understood, the consequences can be costly both in monetary values and in reputation. If a product is manufactured that is not fit for purpose, then not only will the manufacturing schedules be disrupted, but the entire project could be rejected.
Reasons Why Engineers Need to Understand Metrology
When training for an engineering degree and subsequent on the job training, it is important to learn about metrology as soon as possible.
Metrology ensures the quality of the product. A good engineering drawing will ensure that all parts match the design intent. Getting the initial drawing right will also ensure that the project stays within budget, thereby saving money.
Clear dimensions and tolerances ensure that the manufacturers don’t need to waste time clarifying each step and can confidently proceed with production, which will speed up the overall manufacturing time.
Of course, understanding the metrology and conveying the correct GD&T from the beginning results in a cost-efficient and timely manner as well as producing a finished product that is fit for purpose. This then leads to customer satisfaction and ultimately a good reputation for the manufacturer.
How Can An Engineer Learn about Metrology?
As metrology is often overlooked on the curriculum, it may be necessary to have more on the job training programs available to new engineers.
There are also course materials available online at sites such as http://www.npl.co.uk/commercial-services/products-and-services/training/e-learning/introduction-to-metrology/.
However you decide to train your new engineer in the science of metrology, it is essential that you do. Getting the measurement right at the start of a project is necessary to manufacturing on time, on budget and to meet the specifications of the project.