National Physical Laboratory

Survey results reveal the long reach of NPL's calibration

Customers utilising the measurement services of the Time, Quantum and Electromagnetics (TQEM) research group at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have revealed the impact of NPL's work. Calibrations made by NPL create a long chain of traceable measurements throughout society, inextricably linked with processes in all aspects of industry. The results of the survey have also revealed that NPL's measurement facilities are held in high regard, with customers praising NPL's professionalism, expertise and value for money.

NPL system demonstrating AM calibration of a 9640A RF source


All accurate measurements must be traceable to national standards. To ensure this is the case, each measurement device is calibrated against a more accurate device (or chain of devices) which itself has been calibrated against standards held by national measurement institutes (NMIs) such as NPL. This process establishes a chain of calibrations, each traceable to the accurate standards held by NMIs.

Calibrations by NMIs are used by a wide range of industrial and academic clientele to calibrate their instruments because they can dramatically reduce uncertainties in measurement. Reduced uncertainties provide confidence in and comparability across measurements and these calibrated instruments are often subsequently used by internal and external customers. Thus, calibrations done by institutions such as NPL are disseminated throughout society, reaching many people.

Tracking TQEM's Traceability

The business development group conducted a survey of customers using NPL's voltage and resistance measurement services. The results of this survey show the influence and reach of measurements made at NPL: calibrations made at NPL have resulted in tens of thousands of subsequent calibrations in the traceability chain.

Such examples of the work carried out by NPL's customers include:

Fluke is a leader in the design, manufacture and calibration of precision instrumentation. Fluke's UK facility imports traceability from NPL for DC voltage, resistance and radio frequency power; the measurements NPL perform on Fluke's reference standards support the calibration of thousands of customer instruments each year.

GE Grid Solutions Ltd, a developer of systems, equipment and services for the railway sector, provides calibration services for approximately 50 organisations and around 2500 instruments, the majority of which are traceable to NPL.

Why NPL?

Each customer surveyed provided reasons why they chose to calibrate their instruments through services provided by NPL, displaying a widespread respect and appreciation for the expertise and quality of NPL's work.

Isotech, a temperature calibration company, said: "We come to NPL for low-levels of uncertainty, traceability and convenience. NPL-traceable measurements allow us to compete in the marketplace from an uncertainty and cost point of view."

Find out more about NPL's Time, Quantum and Electromagnetics research

For more information, contact Ben Thornton

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Last Updated: 22 Sep 2016
Created: 22 Sep 2016


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