Metrology ensures comparability and reliability
The hybrid event marked the end of the cycle of workshops "A Systemic Approach to Quality Infrastructure in Mexico and Germany". In total, more than 1,300 people participated in the cycle since its beginning in March 2021.
High-level representatives from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie - BMWi) and the Mexican Ministry of Economy (Secretaría de Economía - SE) explained how metrology is organised in Germany and Mexico. They described the role of the German National Metrology Institute (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt - PTB) and the National Metrology Institute of Mexico (Centro Nacional de Metrología – CENAM). Volkswagen Mexico presented how metrology is applied in the industry and what benefits derive from it. Furthermore, the participating experts discussed current and future challenges of metrology at a national and international level.
Representatives from SE and BMWi opened the workshop
Alfonso Guati Rojo, Director General of the General Bureau of Technical Regulations and Standardisation of SE explained the legal foundation for metrology in Mexico. It is based on the Quality Infrastructure Law. He recognised the fundamental role of CENAM in supporting the regulatory authorities, conformity assessment bodies and other actors within the QI system. Dr Ole Janssen, Deputy Director General for Digitalisation and Innovation Policy at BMWi, described how metrology is organised in Germany. He highlighted the value of metrology as it ensures measurement accuracy and creates confidence in measurement results.
National Metrology Institutes: PTB and CENAM
Vice President of PTB, Dr Frank Härtig, explained that PTB guarantees Germany’s high metrological level and its international recognition. PTB is primarily committed to supporting developing countries and emerging economies as they build up metrological infrastructure. It is also responsible for operating a quality management system compliant with international standards. This ensures that calibration certificates, conformity assessment documentation and other metrological evaluation reports issued by PTB are recognised internationally. PTB contributes to the reliability of measurements inside and outside Germany within society and various sectors such as industry, health, safety, consumer protection, energy and environment.
From the Mexican side, Dr Victor Lizardi, Director General of CENAM, reported that the institution is dedicated to improving national measurement capabilities. The new QI law would give CENAM the opportunity to strengthen the national metrology system in the industrial, legal and scientific sector. The institution also supports regulatory authorities in identifying tools for legal metrology and to promote its digital transformation.
As an example, Dr Lizardi explained that there are about 180 million measuring devices in the country. These are subject to legal control due to technical regulations. Legal metrology thus affects almost 15% of Mexico's GDP. This shows that digital and scientific metrology is gaining in importance.
Cooperation is key for interoperability and development
As Dr Härtig (PTB) pointed out, it is necessary to work together to maintain the interoperability of measurements and keep up with technological developments.
PTB and CENAM are linked by more than 30 years of technical cooperation. Since 1989, PTB has supported the further development of CENAM through knowledge exchange and trainings for experts in various fields.
Cooperation with the industry increases competitiveness
The industry benefits from metrology tools. According to Dr Lizardi, maintaining reliable metrological practices promotes the competitiveness of many industrial sectors in Mexico.
Wilhelm Kosegarten, Director of Quality Components at Volkswagen Mexico (VWM), confirmed Dr Lizardi’s statement. VWM works closely with the scientists at CENAM. For example, the company has set up a specialised training centre for metrology and calibration. It develops special measurement and calibration systems. The centre is certified according to the standards of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (Verband der Automobilindustrie - VDA).
Kosegarten also emphasised that thanks to the cooperation with CENAM, they can identify best practices and possible improvements in the automation and verification of calibration machines. This way, measurement accuracy can be increased and costs reduced.
Importance of metrology for international trade
Katharina Gierschke, Deputy Head of Division of Metrology, General Accreditation Law, Supervision of PTB, BAM and DAkkS at BMWi, and Leonardo Rosano, Director of Operation and Regulatory Instruments of SE, reflected on the importance of metrology for international trade.
Gierschke emphasised that metrology, in particular the common units of measurement, are the foundation for commercial transactions and fair trade. Globally, national metrology institutes play a key role. They create comparability between different systems and ensure good production through calibration. Comparability generates uniformity and reliability in measurements, thus contributing to reducing technical barriers to trade.
New challenges for metrology
Dr Härtig (PTB) and Dr Lizardi (CENAM) agreed that new measurement standards and methods must be developed to meet future technologies and developments - such as the digital transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industrie 4.0. In this regard, keeping up with industrial technological developments and adapting to new metrological needs is one of the current challenges of metrology. Other relevant new topics include electromobility and hydrogen supply for the reduction of carbon emissions.
Regarding Mexico, Dr Lizardi pointed out that CENAM develops a digital metrology and creates a metrological cloud. This is key to support the Mexican industry to be innovative and competitive in global markets and value chains.
Promoting a mutual understanding of QI
The cycle of workshops “A Systemic Approach to Quality Infrastructure Mexico and Germany" enabled a space for the exchange of experiences and best practices between German and Mexican experts from the public sector, the industry and QI institutions. It promoted a mutual understanding of the German and Mexican QI systems.
Within the framework of the German-Mexican Dialogue on Quality Infrastructure, the bilateral collaboration will continue. The objective is to strengthen the QI systems to ensure product safety and consumer protection.