World Metrology Day 2022 - Looking back, looking ahead

Innovations and Inspirations

This year, the theme for World Metrology Day  is "Metrology in the Digital Era." With a long history in sensor manufacturing, beginning with the first Finnish radiosonde in 1931, Vaisala has numerous metrologists amongst its 1900+ employees worldwide. We interviewed two Vaisala metrologists to learn how Vaisala is moving towards a digitalized future in its products and services. 

Ilkka Kotamäki, Senior Technical Manager, Vaisala 
For over fifteen years, Ilkka has fulfilled several roles with Vaisala. Prior to his role as Senior Technical Manager, he was a Technical Manager and Senior Calibration Engineer. His education includes degrees in Electronics and Measurement Technology, and Electrical Engineering from Helsinki University of Technology. 

Jyrki Piispa, Laboratory Manager (ISO/IEC17025), Vaisala
Jyrki has specialized in accredited calibration with a focus on test method development and calibration management. His education includes a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Helsinki Polytechnic, a Specialist Qualification in Business Administration and Management, from Mercuria Business School, and a Qualification in Business Information Technology from Helsinki Business College.

With thanks to one of Vaisala's Senior Scientists, Hannu Sairanen and Ville Alasmaa, Vaisala Head of Technical Support and Remote Services for review, edits, and suggestions. 

How has Vaisala responded to advances in metrology over the last decade? 

Ilkka Kotamäki:  At the moment, advances in metrology are most visible in field of automation, efficiency of process, data managing and internet of things (IoT). At Vaisala, we have automated measurement and calibration processes. Vaisala has been optimizing our processes (keeping in mind the one-piece flow, optimizing the throughput time of calibration, taking in use more accurate calibration instruments, and updated existing calibration systems). We've made significant strides in minimizing the turn-around time for customers, in delivery of products as well as services. We have launched new measurement data applications for customers as well. Digital device communication methods, including the Modbus protocol, have been established for many products. 

Jyrki Piispa: Overall, measurements and calibrations have become increasingly automated. The increase in the speed and accuracy of measurements has resulted in reduced waste and an improved ability for industries to meet higher quality standards. 

What are the current and future digitalization efforts of Vaisala calibration? 

Jyrki Piispa: We have many projects  ongoing that increase digital services to customers, for example, we provide cloud solutions to many customers. In some cases, the core of the solution is data as in the case of Volkswagen Group's global infotainment weather service to enhance driver safety and experience. That service is based on data from Vaisala.  A large part the calibration service workflow is already digital, for example quoting and ordering.

We are currently involved in projects to develop the digital calibration concept (DCC).  This concept is currently led by the national metrology institute of Germany, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and has garnered interest from NIST, NMI (China), and almost all of the European national metrology institutes. The idea behind the DCC is to have automatic digital calibration certificates that can be uploaded to a cloud application and read by a computer. This would enable end users at a test station to access certificates without human interaction, significantly reducing opportunities for human error. Plus, calibration certificates in digital (rather than paper) format supports sustainability efforts, for both the calibration lab and the customer.  

What has been the impact of the global changes to regulations, standards, quality systems for Vaisala? 

Ilkka Kotamäki: Vaisala has always provided high quality standard calibration. We have continuously developed our after-sales services like calibrations in all regions. Further, we've also developed the calibration offering in our existing labs. We have calibration centers in North America, Europe, and Asia.  Accredited calibration is recognized internationally. An accredited calibration can be done in Finland, Tokyo, Beijing or the USA and these calibrations are fully valid in all countries because they are performed following the same standards and quality criteria. The power of accredited calibrations lies in the fact that third-party organizations regularly audit the calibration laboratories (typically every year).  These auditors are doing great job ensuring that (a) accredited calibrations are adhere to high quality standards, and (b) the standards and procedures are applied globally.  In some regions, we now offer on-site calibrations. 

What do you see in the future for indirect, hybrid and proxy measurements?

Ilkka Kotamäki: Currently I am working with a company involved with weather forecasting, which uses a number of hybrid measurements, models, and data; combining different measurements and data to get a reliable prediction. In weather, there are many proxy measurements, for example:  Dark grey clouds indicate rain; there's no need to measure whether it is raining or not. But humidity calibration itself can be considered a hybrid measurement when performing the calibration using pressure and temperature readings, water vapor saturation, and scientifically accepted humidity calculation formulas to calculate different humidity outcomes. 

Jyrki Piispa:  We have begun to leverage Artificial Intelligence for metrology and will continue with research and development in this area.

Vaisala has a long history in sensor manufacturing and calibration. What do you see as unique about Vaisala in terms of metrology?

Ilkka Kotamäki: The accuracy and stability of Vaisala's sensor technologies, including HUMICAP, BAROCAP, CARBOCAP, comes from excellent calibrations. Our company has grown with calibration as the core of our solutions.  We've developed new sensing technology that includes intelligent sensors with features like the chemical purge (the automatic chemical evaporation/cleaning from the humidity sensor during use of instrument) and auto-calibration (such as automatic low dew / frost point determination and correction).These types of innovations not only provide accurate sensors for better decision making, but they also have major downstream benefits in automation, improving quality, efficiency, and safety. 

Our goal is to always set the bar high, seeking a level of metrological competency on par with the national metrology institutes. There are few companies on the plant that provide SI traceability that has made it all the way to Mars.


Learn more about Vaisala Life Cycle Services for Instruments

Calibration as a Key to Better Business

Product quality, process efficiency, and operational decision making are all highly dependent on measurement accuracy.

In this webinar, we outline ways to ensure sensors are maintained over time and answer questions like: 

  • Why calibrate? (indoor/outdoor applications)
  • How do calibrations impact business outcomes? 

Also included: 

  • Basic calibration terminology
  • Best practices and calibration options
  • How Vaisala makes calibration easier

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