New leader for UK metrology

The President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Professor Isobel Pollock, has been appointed chair of the National Measurement Office steering board.

Isobel Pollock - President of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers
Isobel Pollock, President, Institute of Mechanical Engineers

The National Measurement Office (NMO) is responsible for stimulating good measurement practice and enabling business to make accurate and traceable measurements. It oversees development within the National Measurement System (NMS), including the work of national measurement institutes such as the National Physical Laboratory.

The UK’s competitive position as a centre for industry and manufacturing is intrinsically linked to the strength and innovation of the NMS. The system is currently considered to be among the top three in the world (alongside those in the USA and France). However declining investment from government is felt by many to be jeopardising this position.

If the current rate of decline continues, experts claim that support for the NMS will have fallen 25% in the decade to 2014.

In the meantime government funding for the national measurement systems of China, Japan, South Korea and Australia are rising in line with the industrial strategies of these countries.

On taking up here new responsibilities at NMO Prof Pollock said: “I’m very excited by this new challenge. The NMO has an important national role to play in boosting innovation by developing the link between measurement science and technology advances.”

Dr Graeme Philp, chief executive of Gambica, the industry body representing the Measurement and Instrumentation industry, welcomed the appointment of Prof Pollock, saying that it comes at a vital time for the National Measurement System.

“The NMS provides an important Infra-technology for the UK, and one that underpins not only industry and manufacturing, but also commerce,” he said.

“The NMS often goes un-noticed but the UK would suffer significant competitive disadvantage if it wasn’t there,” continued Dr Philip. “It has been suffering from underfunding for the last decade and its value needs to be recognised by government in any future spending review.  Recently announced radical changes in the future management structure of The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) just go to underline what a critical time this is for the future of the NMS.”