European Metrology Network for Advanced Manufacturing
The EURAMET Network for Advanced Manufacturing will be coordinated by PTB
The production sector is the backbone of Europe’s industry with about 2 million companies and more than 30 million people working in this area. According to the EU, about half of all research funds are spent in this sector. There is certainly plenty of scope for research in this field: on the central challenges of digitalization and sustainability, for example. And metrological issues play a crucial role here too. To be able to bring together and promote metrological capacities, the European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET) has founded a European Metrology Network (EMN) for Advanced Manufacturing. Acting coordinator is Harald Bosse of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB).
Progressive production procedures, better known as advanced manufacturing, include a variety of activities. One of these is using new materials, for example, extremely lightweight materials for aircraft construction. Other activities are 3D and 4D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence and high-performance computers. What they all have in common is that they use innovative technologies and methods, leading to new or substantially improved products, or to enhanced production efficiency. And they are all faced with two central challenges: digitalization as well as social and ecological sustainability. The EU Commission counts advanced manufacturing among the six key-enabling technologies (KETs) with a particularly high potential for the future. There are, however, numerous overlapping areas with the other five KETs (advanced materials/nanotechnology, photonics/micro and nanoelectronics, life science technologies, artificial intelligence, digital security and connectivity).
“As large and as manifold that the field of advanced manufacturing may be, metrological issues play a decisive role in every respect,” explains Harald Bosse, Head of PTB’s “Precision Engineering” Division and acting coordinator of the new network. “It is a common truth that without innovative and traceable measuring instruments and acknowledged standards, you cannot guarantee a product’s quality according to its defined specifications. This is a condition that is absolutely necessary for the realization of complex production chains. Things have always been this way, and metrology – the science of accurate measurement – has been in existence for more than 130 years and has been closely connected to industry from the very start. What has changed is that we now have digitalization and the Internet of Things that are placing many new requirements on metrology experts. And all these new things need to be coordinated.”
Even though the EU and EURAMET, among others, have been determining current metrological requirements in various research projects over the past few years, we are still looking for the bigger picture. Harald Bosse summarizes the crucial task of the new network as follows: “We need a central point of contact for all metrological needs, a central coordination point which will – now and in the future – collect all needs and bring them together in a central regularly updated research agenda in close and continual cooperation with all participating partners.”
EURAMET’s new EMN is intensively working on utilizing the full potential of advanced manufacturing with the aid of improved measuring technologies. For this purpose, a continuous and constructive dialogue between the various participants in different sectors of industry, the European Commission, research and standardization organizations as well as metrology institutes all over Europe will be a decisive factor. Based on a targeted search for existing gaps in measurement technology infrastructure, a strategic research agenda and a plan for a common sustainable European measurement technology infrastructure are to be developed. Congresses, seminars, workshops and various advanced training and skill enhancement programs are included in the big package of measures, which is to clearly increase the knowledge flow between all participants. All these events are to directly result in innovative industrial developments. This is, not least, intended to strengthen the position of European manufacturing companies in international competition, which is getting tougher and tougher.
The EMN for Advanced Manufacturing has taken its place among the series of existing metrology networks which EURAMET has been setting up over the past three years. There are currently nine such networks tasked with analyzing the metrological needs in their respective fields at the European and global levels and addressing those needs in a coordinated manner. EURAMET’s member institutes have formulated joint strategies regarding research, infrastructure, knowledge transfer and services. They have committed themselves to contributing to each EMN and to helping create sustainable structures that have been planned strategically from the beginning. The EMNs endeavor to act as a central hub in Europe with the goal of setting up a long-term infrastructure for compiling the current needs in each particular area. These needs are expressed by representatives from the fields of industry and standardization and also by policy makers. As such, each EMN is working to coordinate expertise to make better use of the resources at hand.
An open stakeholder workshop was held on 11 October with more than 200 people from the fields of industry and research attending. There were representatives from Siemens, Renishaw, the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP), EFFRA (European Factories of the Future Research Association) along with many other participants. Following this, the first official annual meeting of the EMN took place on 12 October and was attended by its now 14 members and partners. Another four metrology organizations from Switzerland, France, Czechia and Italy want to join up, and they also took part in this meeting. EURAMET hopes that more members will soon sign up to this new EMN.
Dr. Harald Bosse, Head of PTB’s “Precision Engineering” Division, phone: +49 531 592-5010, firstname.lastname@example.org