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National Metrology Skills Alliance

By Charlotte Blake, Trevor Toman, Phil Bamforth, Steff Smith

Following a Midlands Centre for Data-Driven Metrology (MCDDM) training seminar in 2021, the team from MCDDM set out on an ambitious goal: to develop and enact a standard training pathway for Metrology in the manufacturing industry. Led by Trevor Toman (Coventry University), Charlotte Blake (University of Nottingham), Phil Bamforth (Rolls-Royce) and Steff Smith (Institute of Measurement and Control), the group launched the initiative through a workshop discussing training and education needs for Metrology experts. Discussions during this workshop identified key areas of need in manufacturing industry:

  • Standardised skill sets to validate hiring practises for expert metrology roles
  • Clear pathways to competency for those entering into and progressing through careers in metrology
  • Awareness of metrology practices for managers, design engineers and other non-metrologists to better understand the value of metrology in the manufacturing process chain

In addition, a focus on “competency not certificates” was highlighted as a priority area, to ensure that real-world skills and knowledge are valued within the framework. The importance of practical skills and application of theoretical teaching was strongly emphasised by hiring managers present in the workshop.

Further investigation by the InstMC found that in the framework for engineering chartership, the words “measurement” and “metrology” do not appear in the document.  From these discussions and discoveries, it was agreed that a group of cross-industry representatives would work together to develop a standard framework for training in Metrology. The National Metrology Skills Alliance (NMSA) has been formed from companies from across the UK manufacturing industry, including Rolls-Royce, Reliance Precision, National Physical Laboratory, SuirFlo, Jaguar Land Rover, and many more.

This year, the project has accelerated at pace and now a core steering group has been formed. This group, now formalised as a Special Interest Group within the InstMC, is made up of representatives from large industrial organisations and manufacturing SMEs alike.  Their goals for the framework, including plans for writing and delivery timelines for the standard were outlined in March. Three working groups of key manufacturing disciplines – Flow Metrology, Force Metrology and Dimensional Metrology – alongside a working group for a core framework underpinning all disciplines and the key capabilities required for this career path.

Diagram outlining the structure of stakeholders and deliverables involved in and expected to contribute to the development of the standard Metrology training framework under development. Whilst the current project is UK-focused, the group are planning to expand internationally in the future as appropriate.

The first draft of competency frameworks is expected to be ready for delivery by June 2022. In this draft, the initial fields of Flow, Force and Dimensional Metrology will be trialled with a view to expanding to all other fields of Metrology in future iterations. The initial group of topics have been chosen for relevance to the manufacturing industry at large, in addition to the primary pull of users interested in the framework proposal; however, this list is not exhaustive and recommendations of additional areas for consideration are welcomed.

The group are now seeking organisations willing to volunteer their time for testing of the framework once complete. These organisations will be asked to stress-test the standard against their existing training schedule and hiring practices for metrologists in the company. If you are interested in offering your time to this endeavour, please contact Dr Charlotte Blake at charlotte.blake1@nottingham.ac.uk in the first instance.