The Rising Tide of Metrology Markets
According to Market Watch analytics the global industrial metrology market was valued at $9.08 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach 14.41 billion by 2025. This explosive growth is attributed to a number of factors that will be explored in this article. Beyond looking at the hard facts of objective growth, the subject that perhaps is even more important is that of the conceptual strengths of metrology, and more specifically, the symbiotic relationship of these strengths and the adjacent industry of Big Data.
Where Did Metrology Come From?
When an individual hears the word metrology they might be able to recognize the roots of the word in ancient greek. The history of the word as we use it today originates from the Greek roots ‘metron,’ which means measurement and ‘logos,’ which means logic. From combining these words we can understand the core tenants of metrology, that is, the logic of measurement. Modern applications include any variety of science which attempts to measure an object, whether it be real or conceptual. Perhaps the most important application, however, is metrology’s endeavor to quantify inaccuracies in measurement–both theoretical and actual–in order to increase productivity and efficiency in a given operation.
While this subject matter may seem dry or overtly academic to the initiate, the history of metrology is a vivid one, steeped in cultural typographies from the time of ancient Egypt to the modern-day. According to reports from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the role of the metrologist in ancient Egypt was such a prestigious role that it was literally a matter of life and death. Each month at the time of the full moon, the metrologist was responsible for calibrating the standard unit of measurement. If this duty was mismanaged, it was to be viewed as a crime punishable by beheading.
A New Chapter in Metrology 2020
In considering the severity of such a punishment, one might be quick to think that the stakes are much lower in 2020. While it would likely be a stretch to say it is a matter of life and death, the stakes can certainly claim livelihoods if not lives entirely. What this means is that the importance of metrology scales exponentially with the returns and/or consequences of a given operation.
In other words, a local manufacturing business might be able to stomach some levels of efficiency while still maintaining profitability. An international manufacturing business which oversees the production and distribution of millions of products will see any systemic inefficiency magnified–potentially to the point of financial ruin. This constitutes the reason for metrology’s continued relevance throughout the millennia. Metrology is the science of accuracy.
Metrology Software Is the Next Big Thing
As mentioned above the science of accuracy only becomes more crucial as the scale of an operation increases in size or magnitude. The NPL reports that around 80% of parts used in any manufacturing operation are acquired from a different company, many of which are overseas. Thus we see an increasing market for instantaneous and highly accurate unit conversions along with inventory management capabilities that can track millions of unique inventory objects across the globe.
Two decades ago this would have been a project only manageable by an organization such as the military, which had the cutting-edge infrastructure in place to complete these tasks. Today, however, metrology software provides these functions to international companies and local operations alike, which enables each to take advantage of exponential scaling without the risks of scaling the inefficiencies of the operation as well.
Metrology Software: The Unsung Hero in National Wealth
Experts suggest that perhaps the greatest example of metrology’s value is evidenced in its role in national wealth. As described above metrology provides a mechanism of control in scaling up an organization while scaling down waste, risk, and efficiency. So what example of an ever-scaling organization is there than a nation and its economy?
The NPL suggests that around 6% of Europe’s GNP can be attributed to the accuracy mechanisms employed in metrology software. Similar figures are expected in America’s GDP, however, the research has not yet pinpointed the exact figure. The fact remains, however, that metrology’s role in global economics is often forgotten amid more short-term factors such as trade wars, tariffs, and international political power plays.
The Sectors of Innovation in Metrology Software
To demonstrate the role of metrology in technological innovation, one need only look to the sectors of technology which have been most impacted by exponential scaling of modern variables such as rising population, increasing global participation in technology, and the advent of big data. One of the most obvious examples is the supply chain industry.
Amazon for instance reportedly shipped over 5 billion items worldwide in 2017. When you consider that each item had to be successfully manufactured, supplied to a distributor, and then shipped to the consumer the sheer size of such an operation becomes clear. Inventory management metrology software is the only reason such a feat is possible in the first place.
Regardless of the downsides of encroaching automation, such software removes the component of human error in these worldwide endeavors, but more importantly, it opens up levels of efficiency that are simply unmatchable in human efforts. Companies like Moxpage develop inventory management metrology software that is capable of completing crucial tasks while simultaneously offering workflow data and performance data feedback, which in turn provides a mechanism to further fine-tune a supply chain operation towards the more efficient and the more profitable.
Keeping an Eye to the Future: Big Data and Metrology
This brings us to perhaps the most exciting sector of metrology, that is, where metrology and big data overlap. In America’s 2020, in particular, we are seeing an influx of data like never before in human history. Beyond the sheer size of inflowing data, there are new types of data flowing in all together–data feeds from sensors, global transactions, satellite locationing, and even personalized health info from Fitbits and sleep pattern monitoring smartphones.
As any statistician will tell you, the only limiter on what you can do with a data set is the size of the data set. With so much data there are seemingly endless possibilities for revelations about human behavior patterns, healthcare correlations, and more. At the forefront of this revolution, however, is metrology.
As we step foot into the future of new technologies and discover the revolutions hiding in big data, it will be the metrologist who offers the key. Metrology will be responsible for the calibrating of the sensors and instruments that are responsible for the retrieval of big data, and thus the metrologist will also be the architect of what we learn from it. This makes the field of metrology perhaps one of the most important fields in the advancement of the human race–a strong statement to be sure, but one that, at the very least, is not far from the truth.