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The Impact of Failed Measurement Can be Costly, says NSAI

When measurement goes wrong competitions, revenue, and even major investments can be lost, according to NSAI who received over 200 consumer queries and reports of measurement inaccuracies in 2013. NSAI are reminding businesses to check their measurement instruments as they celebrate World Metrology Day (Tuesday, 20th May).  

The Metre Convention, signed in 1875 provides the basis for a coherent measurement system (International System of Units - abbreviated SI from the French Le Système International d'unités) worldwide and this year’s theme is ‘measurement and the global energy challenge’.  To this end NSAI ensures the traceability and accuracy of measuring instruments used in environmental monitoring and energy management systems.

Measurement failures around the world highlight the importance of measurement accuracy.

  • Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from this year’s Australian Grand Prix after different measures were recorded from the official FIA and his team’s fuel-flow sensor. The sport's governing body, the FIA installed a fuel-flow sensor in each car to ensure teams do not exceed the maximum fuel-flow rate of 100kg/h, the difference resulted in a decision that his car had exceeded the maximum fuel-flow rate and the subsequent disqualification.
  • Mars Orbiter 1999 – after an investment of almost €0.5billion the spacecraft was lost as the ground-based computer software which produced data in Imperial Units instead of the Metric Units specified in the NASA contract.  As a result of this measurement error the orbiter was burned up on entry to the Mars atmosphere.

“Standards and measurements affect every aspect of our daily lives - whether it’s   the quantity of oil purchased to heat your home, or the weighing of household waste. We especially rely on correct measurement when buying or selling manufacturing  goods but we only become aware of them when something goes wrong, like with the Australian Grand Prix. We have made a number of developments in the metrology sector in Ireland and the increase in compliance and accuracy of forecourt petrol and diesel pumps is an example of how the work of NSAI, carried out behind the scenes, affects every day life,” said Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI.

Highlights for NSAI in 2013 include:

  • Targeted campaigns, such as in the liquid fuel sector. Of the oil tankers inspected, 90% were compliant, while petrol pumps had a 94% compliance rate
  • Carried out measurement proficiency audits and training to support Irish business measurement capabilities
  • Joint enforcement activities with a number of other state bodies
  • Improved Weighbridge compliance from 70% to 89%
  • Maintained 14 national measurement standards
  • Issued 4,500 calibration certificates

NSAI metrology regularly inspects and calibrates measuring instruments throughout the country across a broad spectrum of companies including:

  • Local Authority weighbridges used to check for over laden trucks on public roads
  • County Councils (waste management, marine, energy and transport)
  • Commercial waste/refuse and recycling companies
  • Fish processors and meat plants
  • Pharmaceutical plants
  • Liquid Fuel Industry
  • Medical Devices
  • Taxi’s
  • ICT

Through its metrology services NSAI endeavors to enable industry and protect the public.



Metrology in Daily Life film

This film, from the National Metrology Institute of the Netherlands, VSL, shows the impact of measurements in our immediate surroundings. You'll be amazed how often accurate measurements play a role in our daily lives, but also in technological developments, environmental issues and health care.