Ancient students of Pythagoras declared that numbers are the prototype of reality. The whole world can be described with numbers – to measure its length, height, depth, etc. The inspiration for that theory was a measuring system created by ancient Egyptians, that allowed them to build – among others – pyramids that are to this day an incredible piece of engineering.
The oldest measuring unit known to us is an elbow, divided into 30 fingers. Such basic and makeshift measurements – based on the human body – were the first step to understanding the whale world with the help of numbers.
Today it is hard to even imagine a life without any type of measure. We measure (not estimate: measure) our time with a clock, thermal energy around us by a temperature (and thermometer), the number of goods in the food store by their mass, our clothes by their size, etc.
Measurement is a key element of our daily life – it is so obvious to us, that often we forget about its presence and impact on our life. But our day-to-day life rarely demands precision and small tolerances in measurements. Precise description of diameters is one of the top requirements in the machining industry, especially – numerically controlled.
The main question - what is the measurement?
The simplest definition of the measurement presents norm ISO 9000:2015 – the measurement is a process focused on the determination of value. More precise definitions describe it as a process of interaction between measuring equipment and measured objects – in time and space – focused on gathering information related to said object features.
Measurement and risk management
In risk management, we can see the interesting perspective of defining measurement as a quantifiable uncertainty reduction – based on one or more observations. In that perspective, measurement is THE process that can lead through the uncertainty area. Such an approach is applicable to automotive manufacturing processes as same as production for different industries.
Measurement in machining - a key process in every factory
It would be impossible to deliver precisely manufactured (milled, turned, grinded, cutted, etc.) parts without measuring instruments. One of the key aspects of measuring is the quantification of needs/requirements. Good technical drawing describes the geometry of parts and their components described in all required dimensions (2D or 3D). A particular measurement of length – for example, 3 meters / approx. 10 feet – is dependent upon many factors like:
- the stability of the measuring device,
- hardness and mechanical properties of the material,
- tool selection and its usage,
- implementing the right machining speed,
- often – even temperature and atmospheric pressure in particular height above the sea level, and many more.
All of the mentioned factors can cause uncertainty, thus CNC machining is – to some extent – a kind of complex and delicate play that can be seen as a form of art. It is – basically – impossible to repeatedly manufacture the same parts with nanometer precision; every element of the manufacturing process can impact on final part dimensions. Measuring processes can help to minimize problems related to said process by introducing tools to define and execute tolerances.
What are the factors that have an impact on industry development?
Among many factors, it is good to mention investments and market demand for particular goods. One of the often overlooked factors is also measuring systems development. Industries can thrive as fast, as they can deliver precise enough tools for measurements and introduce more strict quality control. It would be not possible to fly to the moon without precise measuring tools that were able to control all of the machined parts to provide the best fitment.
The more precise measuring tools, the bigger possibilities to innovate
Who over 100 years ago would have thought that some parts are ';not up to requirement' only because tolerances are exceeded only by a dimension of human hair? That is one of the reasons why the measuring processes and their optimization lay the foundation for today's precise industries – just like CNC machining. The availability of repetitive manufacturing processes allows us to produce devices that are easier to use, more complex, and last longer.
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