Author: Jérémy Arpin-Pont, Directeur Général, Amrikart RC Inc.
Do you need a Metrologist or an Instrument Operator?
The answer may seem obvious to some of the readers. However, from some industry players perspective, the distinction between a metrologist and an instrument operator (Laser tracker, CMM, 3D scanner, even conventional) can be hard to grasp. The International Vocabulary of Metrology (from BIPM), defines the metrology as the ‘science of measurement and its application’. A metrologist is then a specialist who masters the science of measurement and its application. An instrument operator, on the other hand, is ‘a person who operates equipment or a machine’.
The Measurement process
To understand the difference, let’s have a look at a typical measurement process:
The quality of resulting information, the measurement results, depends on decisions taken at each step of the process. The metrologist is the owner of the whole measurement process, while the instrument operator specialises in taking measurements with the instruments (step #3).
In the case of non-automated measurements, the lack in coordination between the stakeholders (Meteorologist and Instrument operator) of the measurement project can drastically impact the information quality and flow throughout the process. This will obviously affect the data’s end-user in his mission. In order to mitigate this risk, one approach suggests that one Metrologist oversees the whole process and manage the necessary information all along the process. The advantage would be a tight control of the data quality and transition from one phase to another.
The metrologist is typically a professional engineer or a specialized technician with several years of experience in his field. A thorough understanding of the measurement project is essential to assess the requirements, define the methods, guide measurement taking, process the data, and perform the analysis. This analysis will produce information which will lead to crucial decision making. The metrologist has a very substantial influence on the resulting information since he oversees the whole process. He’s required to ensure that the resulting information meets the requirements. He’s also required to be aware of the field limitations, and need to master the best practices.
The Instrument Operator
On the other hand, an instrument operator is a professional that masters the equipment functionalities and operates it to take measurements at best. Typically, the instrument operator has a specialized technician degree, and often works within a production line or a Quality Assurance department. The instrument operator follows specific instructions to conduct the measurements, generating raw metrology data by following a predefined method. With training and experience, he would know the optimal environmental conditions required to reach the best performances in terms of accuracy and speed. The Instrument Operator must be aware of his strong influence on measurements and therefore should manage his executions to reduce it at best. For instance, in the case of a R&R analysis (Repeatability & Reproducibility), this influence can be quantified.
Automated Measurements and Inspections
In the era of the Industry 4.0 and automation, mastering metrology became a critical milestone in the roadmap to the advanced industrial automation. Reliability, Quality and Productivity of the supply and production chains rely more than ever on highly accurate online measurements and assemblies. As a result of this transformation, the Metrologist’s scope of work expanded to include his participation to automated systems design teams. Therefor, the new generation of Metrologists have developed new skills such as computer programing, Industrial Vision imagery processing, online simulation, Artificial Intelligence implementation, etc. On the other hand, Instrument Operators also enhance their functions to run fully automated metrology solutions. The whole process can now be controlled in terms of quality and time cycle.
In short, metrologists and instrument operators work hand in hand to realize metrology projects. Depending on the project size, they are sometimes, the same person. Measurements are all about information. Understanding the aim and the process of the operation as well as the influence of stakeholders are essential. A small detail on the process can significantly change results. Hence the importance of a close coordination between the metrologist and the instrument operator.
At Amrikart, we opted for the approach described earlier. We train and integrate multi-disciplinary metrologist among our teams. They control the whole process, or team up with other project stakeholders to ensure the control of each step. All our metrologists master all measurement steps, as well as the operation of 3D instruments. They know their responsibilities and all possible sources of influence on measurements that result from each step. They use the best practices while ensuring full compliance with the project’s requirements. This approach also guaranties a satisfactory and quick control of in the event of changes that may occur in the project considering possible repercussions on the measurement and the generated data.