In 1875, representatives of 17 nations gathered in Paris, France to sign the Metre Convention: an agreement that was designed to take measurement standardization out of the hands of any one specific nation. As part of this agreement, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) was created and formalized. The primary role of the BIPM is to standardize and coordinate systems and units of measure around the world, and the BIPM’s significance in the world of science and global trade has grown exponentially over the last 145 years. May 20th of every year, the anniversary of the Metre Convention, is now designated as World Metrology Day, and is used as an opportunity to inform the public of the critical role measurements and measurement consistency plays in the modern world. The theme for World Metrology Day 2020 is “measurements for global trade,” a concept that A2LA’s work as an accreditation body is closely tied to.
A2LA accredits nearly 800 calibration laboratories and is well-recognized in the calibration field. Although our primary clientele is US labs, we also accredit many international labs, who often seek accreditation to support their participation in international trade. The international standard for testing and calibration labs, ISO/IEC 17025, provides a framework for the traceability of measurements, the appropriateness of the equipment used, and the competency of the professionals doing testing or calibration work, among other things. BIPM and their partner organization, the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), standardize the units of measure and measurement methodology for a massive range of applications, ensuring that the reported measurements are clear and universally applicable.
Thanks to a global system of universally understood measurements and the international standards that affirm the competency of organizations to take, record, and interpret measurements of all types, consumers have access to everything from interchangeable computer parts to effective pharmaceuticals. World Metrology Day is an opportunity to highlight the importance of metrology in everyday life, and to acknowledge the rigorous and difficult work metrology professionals do all over the world to keep people safe, facilitate the quality of consumer goods, and support global commerce. Happy World Metrology Day to metrology professionals everywhere, and to everyone who relies on the work they do.