A measure of importance

Posted on 21 Jul 2010 by The Manufacturer

The National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL) metrology training has become a nationally recognised qualification following accreditation by awarding body EAL.

Manufacturers undergoing the NPL training will now have an independently recognised industry qualification. This standardisation of metrology skills will help organisations demonstrate commitment to quality and consistency to their customer base as well as providing professional development to employees.

Benefits to be gained from embedding an understanding of metrology in the workforce range from reductions in rework to improved workflow, shorter lead times and the establishment of something akin to lean poke yoke (error proofing system) in production through empowerment of the workforce and better ownership of responsibility.

Across sectors metrology challenges impact on a huge range of manufacturing processes and, in recent years, advances in technology and automation have done a lot to change the nature of this important industry science.

Despite the added precision and capability that metrology tools can give manufacturers however NPL have identified that there is often an absence of clear understanding of metrology as a tool in itself in the manufacturing workplace. This can limit companies and individuals in achieving their full potential.

A broad range of organisations already use NPL as a training provider including: Jaguar Landrover, Airbus, QinetiQ and BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce , Dawson Precision Components (DPC). The latter two organisations are now pursuing rigorous NPL led measurement excellence programmes across many different functions and have plans to progress to higher levels of qualification for staff in key areas.

Managing director of DCP, Simon Dawson says “NPL training has had an important impact on the levels of quality we can offer, which leads to greater customer confidence. This accreditation will provide independent assurance to business prospects that we have the capabilities to deliver the highest level of measurement expertise.”

NPL have undertaken rigorous tests to show the programme meets national standards. So far, four courses have been approved as qualifications – Dimensional Measurement Level 1 and 2 and Portable Coordinate Measurement Systems (large volume metrology) Levels 1 & 2.

Tom Ashby, business development manager for training at NPL explains: “Having the training nationally recognised is a great step forward. NPL receive many requests for nationally recognised training which we are now able to fulfil. Employers want this as it carries weight with their customers and potential customers, who can be assured of an increased level of quality.

“Such recognition also opens the door for potential funding channels and provides access to apprenticeships and other opportunities. Learners also benefit by gaining an industry recognised qualification, which improves their career prospects, leading to increased motivation and confidence.”

NPL training teaches an understanding of the under-pinning importance of measurement. Employees learn to question, understand and plan the best way to measure, beyond simply being able to use equipment.

This helps them build systems into the manufacturing process, reducing errors and waste, and improving quality control and accuracy. This ultimately means businesses can increase productivity and respond to their customers more quickly.

Tom Ashby concludes: “Working with EAL just made sense. As market leaders in engineering N/SVQs they were the obvious partner for getting our training accredited onto the new Qualifications and Credit Framework. Their flexible approach and translation of the language of accreditation has made the process less daunting for NPL and we are delighted to have received final approval by Ofqual.”