NPL Instruments Division to accelerate UK innovation

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NASA, MOD, Defra and the ESA are already benefiting from the new service.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has announced the launch of its new Instruments Division, bringing its world-class measurement instruments and expertise closer to industry, improving quality, productivity and efficiency.

The NPL’s new Instruments Division aims to further its commitment to ensuring that business and commerce benefit from its expertise and help drive innovation.

It will does this by providing confidence that their products and processes perform as they should and to the highest quality, and by maximising the reliability and efficiency of their systems.

Image courtesy of ESA/NASA
The NPL has developed a unique vibration test facility that underpins the performance of satellite components for the ESA – image courtesy of ESA/NASA.

NPL, the UK’s National Measurement Institute, has been supporting both public and private organisations in reaching their full potential for more than a century: from scientific organisations looking to measure the fundamental forces of the universe, to manufacturers looking to streamline processes and improve productivity.

Organisations like NASA; the Ministry of Defence; Defra, and the European Space Agency (ESA) are already benefiting from this expertise.

NASA, for example, uses the most accurate machines in the world to craft the mirrors in its space telescopes. NPL was uniquely placed to create the laser systems that control and operate these machines. For the ESA, NPL has developed a unique vibration test facility that underpins the performance of satellite components for European space missions.

Defra has made use of new environmental monitoring techniques from NPL that track greenhouse gas emissions in 3D over large areas, allowing it to manage sites such as landfills much more effectively.

To support continued growth of this relationship with industry, the instruments division will be putting £1.5m towards new machining centres and cutting-edge laboratories, as well as the recruitment of new engineering specialists and advanced engineering apprentices.

CEO of the National Physical Laboratory, Dr Peter Thompson explained: “NPL is steeped in a rich history of measurement innovation that has laid the foundation for our modern lives.

“Alan Turing conceived the ACE computer here in the late-1940s, cementing the UK’s place as a leader in computing and data science. Atomic clocks were invented at NPL, making mobile communication and GPS possible.

“Today, NPL supplies instruments to industry to give organisations confidence through traceability: from vibration facilities at the ESA which will help test and improve satellite performance, to environmental mobile labs which give confident measurements of greenhouse gases.

“The launch of our Instruments Division gives industry access to our unrivalled measurement capabilities, underpinning prosperity and productivity.”