Seeking to establish a balanced, integrated and cost effective European measurement infrastructure, EURAMET initiated the creation of the European Metrology Networks (EMNs) in 2018.
The EMNs are drivers for long-term cooperation and interaction with stakeholders in key areas prompted by technical and societal issues, and are strategically important for the European metrology infrastructure beyond 2030.
The present EMNs address a wide range of topics, including health and safety, quantum technologies and advanced manufacturing, environmental monitoring, and energy transition solutions.
Digital transformation at the technological frontiers of measurement science enables and drives societal and industrial innovation.
New digital applications will be deployed in the metrology community as well as research fields that rely on the usage of precise measurement equipment as a result of the project’s findings.
On the occasion of World Metrology Day 2022, the networks reflect on recent accomplishments and future potential in the field of metrology in the digital age.
The European Metrological Network for Climate and Ocean Observation (EMN for Climate and Ocean Observation) integrates European metrological research and service development to meet the needs of communities that make and/or use observations of critical climate and ocean variables. Because the Earth system is so complicated, environmental monitoring necessitates the use of data from satellites as well as data from devices on the ground, in the air, and in the oceans.
Detecting climatic trends among natural variability (such as seasons and weather) necessitates multi-decadal observations across the world, resulting in extremely huge data sets. It also necessitates the use of models to interpret those observations. Climate and ocean measurements are, therefore, primarily 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 this regard, the European Metrology Research Programme’s project ‘Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate’ made essential contributions. Following that, NPL colleagues collaborated with University of Reading meteorology experts to push the bounds of uncertainty estimation in satellite sensor design and operation by encouraging the use of metrology in historical Earth observation missions. Applying metrology concepts to historical Earth observations from satellites was reported in the Metrologia 2019 review.
The EMN 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 during its review of stakeholder needs. The project ASeLSU is currently working on a noteworthy endeavour in accordance with the network’s objectives: accurate assessment of increasing sea levels from space. European specialists in climate science, observations, and metrology are meeting as part of the project’s framework to see if any modifications to the space component of the end-to-end measurement system of sea level rise uncertainty stability estimations are required.
“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 involved in worldwide climate change projects. The Metrology for Climate Action workshop, organised by the BIPM and the World Meteorology Organization in collaboration with EURAMET and the Climate and Ocean Observation Network in September 2022, will be a watershed moment. The workshop theme is “metrology in support of the physical science underpinning of climate change and climatic observations,” which Emma will co-chair.
“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.”
Improvements in production quality and efficiency are predicted to strengthen Europe’s manufacturing industries’ competitiveness. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is bringing new chances for innovation in fields like smart manufacturing, sophisticated materials, and nanotechnology, thanks to growing interconnectivity and smart automation. Industry, academics, quality infrastructure, and the EURAMET community collaborate through the European Metrology Network for Advanced Manufacturing.
The perfection of provided goods, processes, and services can be further improved by interweaving metrological principles – uncertainty, traceability, and comparability – to the measurement data supporting each ‘link’ of the production chain with efficiency, safety, and sustainability desiderata.
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 EMN Advanced Manufacturing’s Stakeholder Advisory Council, commented on recent digital initiatives promoting industrial innovation that is in line with European climate protection goals:
“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.
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 of which represent highly relevant stakeholder interests, thanks to the recent formation of a Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
Mathmet’s expertise is being used in a number of active cooperative research projects under the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR). ‘Traceable metrology of soft X-ray to IR optical constants and nanofilms for advanced manufacturing’ (ATMOC) aims to develop comparable optical metrology for materials used in photonics; ‘Metrology of automated data analysis for cardiac arrhythmia management’ (MedalCare) examines software validating methods and tools for automatic diagnoses of cardiovascular diseases; and ‘Quantitative MR-based imaging of physical biomarkers’ (QUIERO) investigates quantitative
Furthermore, proposals dealing with boundary-spanning subjects such as uncertainty evaluation for machine learning, trustworthy virtual experiments and digital twins, as well as sensor networks, have been submitted in response to the digital request under the European Partnership on Metrology.
Through a specialised training effort created in conjunction with European academia and accrediting authorities, Mathmet assists the measurement community in building capability in the field of uncertainty evaluation. The network also co-organizes events like the Conference on Mathematics and Statistics in Metrology, which focuses on new analytical and computational approaches in measurement science, and the IMEKO-Mathmet 2022 Symposium, which explores mathematical and statistical applications related to four IMEKO Technical Committees’ activities.
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.”