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Metrology Networks bring in stakeholder needs related to digital transformation

World Metrology Day 2022 - Metrology in the Digital Era


Seeking to establish a balanced, integrated and cost effective European measurement infrastructure, EURAMET initiated the creation of the European Metrology Networks (EMNs) in 2018.

Strategically vital for the European metrology infrastructure beyond 2030, the EMNs are drivers for long term cooperation and interaction with stakeholders in priority areas triggered by technological and societal challenges.

Health and safety, quantum technologies and advanced manufacturing, environmental monitoring and provision of solutions for the energy transition are fundamental areas covered by the currently running EMNs.

Societal and industrial innovation is enabled and driven by the digital transformation at the technological frontiers of measurement science.

Its outcomes will be new digital applications deployed in the broad metrology community and in research disciplines that rely on the use of accurate measurement systems.

On the occasion of the 2022 World Metrology Day,  the networks ponder about recent achievements and future prospects regarding Metrology in the Digital Era.


Climate and Ocean Observation

The EMN for Climate and Ocean Observation coordinates European metrological research and service development to respond to the needs of those communities making and/or using observations of essential climate and ocean variables. The Earth system is complex and environmental monitoring requires the combination of data from satellites and from instruments on the ground, in the air and in the oceans.

Detecting climate trends amongst natural variability (eg. seasons, weather) requires multi-decadal observations over the whole globe, creating very large data sets. It also requires the interpretation of those observations through models. Therefore, climate and ocean observations are fundamentally digital endeavours.

The EMN chair Emma Woolliams (NPL, United Kingdom) reflected on the network’s striving to underpin the EU environmental commitment:

“We have to develop ways to bring the core metrological concept of traceability - realised through uncertainty analysis and comparisons - out from the laboratory into first the environment, and then to information products derived using models”.

In that sense, seminal efforts were carried on by the project 'Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate' within the European Metrology Research Programme. Subsequently, NPL colleagues together with meteorology researchers from the University of Reading have stretched the boundaries of uncertainty estimation supporting satellite sensor design and operation by promoting the application of metrology to historical Earth observation missions. Their work was published in the Metrologia 2019 review Applying principles of metrology to historical Earth observations from satellites.

The EMN’s review of stakeholder needs identified digital challenges ranging from considering error correlation structures in large data sets to obtain accurate regional and global averages, to supporting the standard names used in data standards to bring metrological terms and concepts into those ontologies. A notable endeavour in line with the spirit of the network’s objectives - the accurate measurement of the rising sea levels from space - is currently addressed by the project ASeLSU. Within its framework, European experts in climate science, observations and metrology are getting together to determine if potential improvements to the space component of the end-to-end measurement system of sea level rise uncertainty stability estimates are necessary.

“Through the application of metrological best practices and procedures to improve measurements of sea levels the project will enhance our knowledge of the Earth’s energy balance and processes that are driving the melting of the ice caps”, Emma stated.

EURAMET is actively engaged in global initiatives regarding climate change. A milestone event is the Metrology for Climate Action workshop in September 2022 hosted by the BIPM and the World Meteorology Organization in partnership with EURAMET and the Climate and Ocean Observation network. Emma will co-chair the workshop theme  ‘metrology in support of the physical science basis of climate change and climate observations’.

“This event will bring together experts from the observation and modelling communities to discuss metrological challenges in climate observation. We expect these digital themes to be a high priority in those discussions.”


Advanced Manufacturing

Transformative improvements to production quality and efficiency are expected to boost the competitiveness of Europe’s manufacturing industries. Through increased interconnectivity and smart automation, the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is driving new opportunities for innovation in sectors such as smart manufacturing, advanced materials and nanotechnology. The European Metrology Network for Advanced Manufacturing fosters cooperation between representatives of industry, academia, quality infrastructure and the EURAMET community.

By interweaving metrological principles - uncertainty, traceability and comparability - to the measurement data underpinning each ‘link’ of the production chain with efficiency, safety and sustainability desiderata, the excellence of delivered goods, processes and services can be further improved.

Harald Bosse (PTB, Germany), chair of the EMN Advanced Manufacturing, explaines:

“The benefit of the larger and faster metrological data sets can be clearly observed in respect to the characterisation and control of manufacturing processes. This is due to the growing number of different sensors integrated in machine tools, for example those used for predicative maintenance. In addition, the increased use of complex information provided by areal surface metrology systems and tomographic methods has broadened big data analysis approaches, including artificial intelligence methods. To further improve manufacturing processes, the optimum combination of additive and classical manufacturing processes should be fully exploited, based on reliable metrological input throughout the whole manufacturing chain.“

Dietrich Imkamp, Head of Metrological Qualification at ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions, member of EURAMET’s Research Council and convenor of the Stakeholder Advisory Council of EMN Advanced Manufacturing, commented on recent digital initiatives promoting industrial innovation that is compliant with the European climate protection ambitions:

“Metrology in production is the supplier of information on product quality. Therefore, it is crucial for economic success that metrology is seamlessly integrated into the information flows of modern production. Nowadays, these information flows are implemented digitally. The digital implementation requires proper interfaces and common languages for data exchange between different systems in production. Activities like the Digital Calibration Certificate and the definition of the Companion Specification for Geometrical Measurement Systems of the automation interface OPC UA demonstrate the European efforts to advance this field. Furthermore, proposals for recent calls on digital transformation supported by industry addresses topics like digital twins and digital product specification. Common for all activities is a more efficient production and to achieve European climate protection goals.”


Mathematics and Statistics

The EMN for Mathematics and Statistics (Mathmet) fosters collaboration and development of metrological capabilities in fields overarching multiple scientific and technical areas of metrology including:

  • modelling, simulations and inverse problems;
  • data analysis and uncertainty and
  • artificial intelligence.

Having recently established a Stakeholder Advisory Committee, the network members are now developing a strategic research agenda on the topics of machine learning and artificial intelligence as well as computational modelling and virtual metrology, all representing highly relevant stakeholder interests.  

Various ongoing joint research projects within the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR) benefit from Mathmet expertise. Amongst them: ‘Traceable metrology of soft X-ray to IR optical constants and nanofilms for advanced manufacturing’ (ATMOC) endeavoring to develop comparable optical metrology for materials used in photonics; Metrology of automated data analysis for cardiac arrhythmia management (MedalCare) looking at software validating methods and tools for automatic diagnoses of cardiovascular diseases, while ‘Quantitative MR-based imaging of physical biomarkers’ (QUIERO) is exploring new magnetic resonance imaging technologies using quantitative methods for more accurate clinical diagnose.

Moreover, the digital call within the European Partnership on Metrology has prompted the submission of proposals that are tackling boundary-spanning topics such as uncertainty evaluation for machine learning, trustworthy virtual experiments and digital twins as well as sensor networks.

Mathmet helps the measurement community to build capacity in the area of uncertainty evaluation through a dedicated training activity developed in collaboration with European academia and accreditation institutions. The network additionally co-organises, events such as the Conference on Mathematics and Statistics in Metrology focused on novel analytical and computational approaches in measurement science, and the IMEKO-Mathmet 2022 Symposium exploring mathematical and statistical applications related to the activities of four IMEKO Technical Committees.

Reflecting on the emerging technological innovations galvanized in response to the EU’s digital and green transition framework, Mathmet Chair Markus Bär (PTB, Germany) commented:

“The digital transformation will fundamentally change metrology. New fields ranging from artificial intelligence to virtual metrology are emerging and will have a long-term impact on the metrology landscape.”


To learn more about the digital transformation initiatives within the EURAMET community, please visit our World Metrology Day 2022 website >>


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