By Robb McIvor
Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS)
Like other high-tech industries, metrology is a fast moving target due to mergers and acquisitions, new products, and steady innovations from forward thinking OEMs. While software and hardware advances continue to remove complexities from measurement and inspection processes, metrologists still need to understand the fundamentals of the discipline. And more importantly, employers need to know who understands the basics, as they rely upon these skills to build and assemble precision engineered products such as aircraft, ships, automobiles, satellites, nuclear facilities and more.
At the 2008 Coordinate Measurement System Conference (CMSC), a small group of industry players and service providers floated the idea of User Certification. We all agree about the importance of calibration and certification of measurement hardware. Many would argue the software used to operate that equipment and analyze the data should be subject to some level of testing and approval. But what about the workforce who plans the measurements, operates the equipment, analyzes the results and presents findings to an employer or customer? Are they competent to plan, measure, analyze and report?
I do not say this disparagingly. On the contrary, I am constantly in awe of the knowledge, competency and experience of my peers working in the 3D metrology field. After being involved with the Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) for the past 18 years as both an attendee and manager, I have worked with some of the finest metrology service providers in the industry.
As an example, I will use my 25 years of experience with 3D measurement systems, starting with theodolites and moving to laser trackers for the past 15 years. I have a little photogrammetry and articulated arm experience, and 30-plus years of aerospace tooling knowledge. Pack it all into a resume with the appropriate wordsmithing, and it would catch the eye of a manager looking for an employee or hired gun to tackle 3D measurement tasks and problems.
Would I hire me? It depends. If the parameters of the job were laser trackers and aerospace, I would be highly qualified. If the job involved photogrammetry and antennas? Not so much. How about reverse engineering applications using scan data? Not even close. What about production inspection using articulated arms? No way! My resume says I can use a variety of 3D measurement systems, have experience reading and interpreting blueprints, planning and executing measurement surveys and reporting results. All true. No falsification of my "abilities." But it says nothing about my general knowledge outside a tooling environment or how competent I am with different types of measurement devices and software.
In 2008, the CMS Certification Committee began their work to establish and manage a centralized certification program for Industrial Coordinate Metrologists. They worked with a diverse population of users and manufacturers of large volume, close tolerance, industrial coordinate measurement solutions. They also engaged with recognized accreditation bodies, academia, and government institutes to develop the necessary framework. The establishment of a centralized certification for metrologists could result in legitimizing metrology as an enduring profession, and provide a career path for maturing metrology skills. It would also foster the creation of metrology training resources, promote the adoption of standardized best practices for measurement, and finally, meet our customer’s contractual and ISO requirements for qualified personnel.
The culmination of their work is a Level-One Cognitive Certification exam, a legally defensible examination designed to test the applicant’s knowledge of subject matter relevant to measurement in general. CMS is proud to announce the exam will be administered to qualified individuals for the first time at this year’s CMSC in San Diego, California from July 22–26. We will also be offering a pilot exam for articulated arms (PCMMs), which will result in a certification exam at the 2014 conference.
We are launching the first in a series of certification exams, but there is a lot of work ahead. CMS will continue to advocate the value of certification to the marketplace and to practitioners. I encourage you to participate in this very important endeavor and hope you will take the time to learn more about the expanding world of 3D metrology. ME
This article was first published in the April 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.