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organisations looking tomeasure the fundamental forces of the universe tomanufacturers looking to streamline processes and improve productivity. Now, the laboratory has opened its doors even

wider with the creation of its Instruments Division as ameans of becoming even closer to industry. It does this by providing confidence that products and processes performas they should and to the highest quality, and bymaximising the reliability and efficiency of their systems. High technology heavyweights such as NASA, the

MoD, Defra and the European Space Agency (ESA) are already benefitting fromthis expertise. For example, NPL created the laser systems that control and operate themost accuratemachines in the world for craft – themirrors used by NASA in its space telescopes.

Instrumental partnership

Jonathan Newell looks at how the National Physical Laboratory is getting closer to small businesses with the creation of its new Instruments Division

andmaterials science. Being the former workplace of such luminaries as Alan Turing and Sir Barnes Wallis, it is easy to imagine its grand BushyHouse residence in Teddington as being a cloistered sanctuary for academia and a long way fromthe throb of Britain’s industry. The reality though is that NPL has always forged


strong connections with industry and its very existence is based on providing the primary resource for national standards inmeasurement; a kind of final court of appeal for weights andmeasures. The organisation itself asserts that it has been supporting both public and private organisations in reaching their full potential for over a century: fromscientific

reatly revered the world over in the field of science and engineering, the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has a history ofmore than a century delving into the depths ofmathematics, physics

 Dr Peter Thompson promises access to unrivalled measurement capabilities

ACCESS FOR SMES I asked NPL if smaller companies withmodest budgets could also access the services of the new Instruments Division or whether this was something only open to large organisations like NASA and ESA. The company’s spokesperson explained that NPL Instruments works with a large number of SMEs as well, and is very happy to do this. Often, smaller companies don’t have the capital for full specialist instruments, so often advice is the best way for us to help, which is a high impact and low cost option. An example ismobile telephone case

manufacturer, Impact Test Labs. NPL helped the company to develop a demanding testing process for its cases based on NPL’s knowledge of testing and instruments. This knowledge helped ITL to build some of themost durable phone cases you can buy.

NOT JUST INSTRUMENT SERVICES The new division at NPL offers a range of services and products based on its expertise, including design studies, prototype development, advice on bestmethods and equipment to use for testing their products during and after production, access to measurement scientists in any field on an ad hoc basis,manufacturing, testing and validation of products, and the training of external personnel on design principles for well designed instruments, especially fromameasurement perspective for great performance and reliability. Based in Teddington,Middlesex, the Instruments

Division is easily contactable and is open to site visits for potential clients. The division can also act as a single point of contact for all other operational areas of the National Physical Laboratory. Speaking about the role of the new division, Dr

Peter Thompson, CEO of the National Physical Laboratory commented: “NPL is steeped in a rich history ofmeasurement innovation that has laid the foundation for ourmodern lives and today, we supply instruments to industry to give organisations confidence through traceability. The launch of our Instruments Division gives industry access to our unrivalledmeasurement capabilities, underpinning prosperity and productivity.” EE

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