Unit 1 Concept of Measurement

General concept – Generalized measurement system-Units and standards-measuring

instruments- sensitivity, readability, range of accuracy, precision-static and dynamic response repeatability- systematic and random errorscorrection, calibration, interchangeability

• Metrology is the name given to the science of pure measurement. • Engineering Metrology is restricted to measurements of length & angle • Measurement is defined as the process of numerical evaluation of a dimension or the process of comparison with standard measuring instruments

Why measure things?
• Check quality? • Check tolerances? • Allow statistical process control (SPC)?

Need of Measurement
• • • • • • • Establish standard Interchange ability Customer Satisfaction Validate the design Physical parameter into meaningful number True dimension Evaluate the Performance

Methods of Measurement
• • • • • • • Direct method Indirect method Comparative method Coincidence method Contact method Deflection method Complementary method

Direct method
• Measurements are directly obtained
– Ex: Vernier Caliper, Scales

Indirect method
• Obtained by measuring other quantities
– Ex : Weight = Length x Breadth x Height x Density

Comparative Method
• It’s compared with other known value
– Ex: Comparators

Coincidence method • Measurements coincide with certain lines and signals Fundamental method • Measuring a quantity directly in related with the definition of that quantity Contact method • Sensor/Measuring tip touch the surface area

Complementary method • The value of quantity to be measured is combined with known value of the same quantity
– Ex:Volume determination by liquid displacement

Deflection method
• The value to be measured is directly indicated by a deflection of pointer
– Ex: Pressure Measurement


Common elements of system
• • • • • • Primary sensing element Variable conversion element Variable manipulation element Data transmission element Data processing element Data presentation element

Primary sensing element

Variable conversion element

Variable manipulation element Temperature

Data transmission element

Data presentation element Data processing element

Units and standards

SI: fundamental Units
Physical Quantity Unit Name Symbol

length mass

meter kilogram

m kg

electric current



amount of substance luminous intensity

mole candela

mol cd

SI: Derived Units
Physical Quantity Unit Name Symbol


square meter



cubic meter
meter per second
meter per second squared


weight, force



energy, work



Supplementary units

Physical Quantity

Unit Name


Plane angle Solid angle

Radian Steradian



• International standards • Primary standards • Secondary standards

• Working standards

International Organization of Legal Metrology, Paris International Bureau of Weights and Measures at Sevres, France

National Physical Laboratory Dr. K.S. Krishnan Marg New Delhi - 110012 India Phone: 91-11-45609212 Fax: 91-11-45609310 Email: root@nplindia.org or root@nplindia.ernet.in

Measuring Instruments
• • • • Deflection and null type instruments Analog and digital instruments Active and passive instruments Automatic and manually operated instruments • Contacting and non contacting instruments • Absolute and secondary instruments • Intelligent instruments.

• Physical effect generated by the measuring quantity • Equivalent opposing effect to nullify the physical effect caused by the quantity

• Physical variables of interest in the form of continuous or stepless variations • Physical variables are represented by digital quantities

• Instruments are those that require some source of auxiliary power • The energy requirements of the instruments are met entirely from the input signal

Automatic and manually operated
• Manually operated – requires the service of human operator • Automated – doesn't requires human operator

Contacting And Non Contacting Instruments
• A contacting with measuring medium • Measure the desired input even though they are not in close contact with the measuring medium

Absolute and Secondary Instruments
• These instruments give the value of the electrical quantity in terms of absolute quantities • Deflection of the instruments can read directly

Intelligent instruments
• Microprocessors are incorporated with measuring instruments

Help topics
• http://www.tresnainstrument.com/education. html

Characteristics of Measuring Instrument
• Sensitivity • Readability • Range of accuracy • Precision

• Sensitivity- Sensitivity is defined as the ratio of the magnitude of response (output signal) to the magnitude of the quantity being measured (input signal) • Readability- Readability is defined as the closeness with which the scale of the analog instrument can be read

• Range of accuracy- Accuracy of a measuring

system is defined as the closeness of the
instrument output to the true value of the

measured quantity
• Precision- Precision is defined as the ability of the

instrument to reproduce a certain set of readings
within a given accuracy

• If the calibration curve is liner, as shown, the sensitivity of the instrument is the slope of the calibration curve. • If the calibration curve is not linear as shown, then the sensitivity varies with the input.

This is the relationship between a change in the output reading for a given change of the input. (This relationship may be linear or non-linear.)

Sensitivity is often known as scale factor or instrument magnification and an instrument with a large sensitivity (scale factor) will indicate a large movement of the indicator for a small input change.

Force, F

Output, Vo (V)

Load Cell

Output, Vo

Slope = 5 V/kN

Input, Fi (kN)

Block Diagram:

Input, F (kN) K

Output, Vo (V)

Sensitivity, K = 5 V/kN

(1) A 0.01 W/A meter with 5 A fsd, Rm = W/A x A = 0.01 x 5 = 0.05 W Vmax across the Meter will be = 5 A x 0.05 W = 0.25 V for fsd. (2) A 0.1 W/A meter with 5 A fsd,will drop 2.5 V (i.e., it is 10 times less sensitive), which may bias the results

• Readability is defined as the ease with which

readings may be taken with an instrument.

• Readability difficulties may often occur due to
parallax errors when an observer is noting the position of a pointer on a calibrated scale

What is the value ?

What is the value ?

What is the value ?

• Accuracy = the extent to which a measured value agrees with a true value • The difference between the measured value & the true value is known as ‘Error of measurement’ • Accuracy is the quality of conformity

Example: Accuracy
• Who is more accurate when measuring a book that has a true length of 17.0 cm? A: 17.0 cm, 16.0 cm, 18.0 cm, 15.0 cm B :: 15.5 cm, 15.0 cm, 15.2 cm, 15.3 cm

• The precision of a measurement depends on the instrument used to measure it. • For example, how long is this block?

How big is the beetle?
Measure between the head and the tail! Between 1.5 and 1.6 in Measured length: 1.54 in The 1 and 5 are known with certainty The last digit (4) is estimated between the two nearest fine division marks.

Example: Precision
Who is more precise when measuring the same 17.0 cm book? A: 17.0 cm, 16.0 cm, 18.0 cm, 15.0 cm B :: 15.5 cm, 15.0 cm, 15.2 cm, 15.3 cm

Accuracy vs. Precision
High Accuracy High Precision High Precision Low Accuracy

The person hit the bull's-eye?
Three targets with three arrows each to shoot.
How do they compare? Both accurate and precise Precise but not accurate Neither accurate nor precise

Can you define accuracy vs. precision?

• The word uncertainty casts a doubt about the exactness of the measurement results • True value = Estimated value + Uncertainty

Why Is There Uncertainty?
• Measurements are performed with instruments, and no instrument can read to an infinite number of decimal places •Which of the instruments below has the greatest uncertainty in measurement?

Reading a Meterstick
. l2. . . . I . . . . I3 . . . .I . . . . I4. .
First digit (known) Second digit (known) Length reported = 2 = 0.7 =


2.?? cm 2.7? cm 0.05- 0.08 cm 2.77 cm

Third digit (estimated) between


2.76 cm
2.78 cm

Known + Estimated Digits
In 2.77 cm…
• Known digits 2 and 7 are 100% certain • The third digit 7 is estimated (uncertain) • In the reported length, all three digits (2.77 cm) are significant including the estimated one

Performance of Instruments
• All instrumentation systems are characterized by the system characteristics or system response • There are two basic characteristics of Measuring instruments, they are
– Static character – Dynamic character

Static Characteristics
• The instruments, which are used to measure the quantities which are slowly varying with time or mostly constant, i.e., do not vary with time, is called ‘static characteristics’.

• Accuracy • Dead zone

• • • •

Sensitivity Resolution Threshold Drift

• Backlash
• True value • Hysteresis • Linearity • Range or Span


• Bias
• Tolerance


• Stability

This is defined as the smallest input increment change that gives some small but definite numerical change in the output.

This minimum value of input below which no output can be appeared is known as threshold of the instrument.



Drift or Zero drift is variation in the output of an instrument which is not caused by any change in the input; it is commonly caused by internal temperature changes and component instability.

Sensitivity drift defines the amount by which instrument’s sensitivity varies as ambient conditions change.



sensitivity drift zero drift input sensitivity drift input


zero drift input

• Error – The deviation of the true value from the desired value is called Error • Repeatability – It is the closeness value of same output for same input under same operating condition • Reproducibility - It is the closeness value of same output for same input under same operating condition over a period of time

• The ‘Range’ is the total range of values which an instrument is capable of measuring.

This is the algebraic difference between the average errors at corresponding points of measurement when approached from opposite directions, i.e. increasing as opposed to decreasing values of the input.
Measured Value


Actual/ Input Value

Hysteresis is caused by energy storage/ dissipation in the system.

Zero stability
The ability of the instrument to return to zero reading after the measured has returned to zero

Dead band
This is the range of different input values over which there is no change in output value.


The ability to reproduce the input characteristics symmetrically and linearly

• Backlash – Lost motion or free play of
mechanical elements are known as backlash

• True value – The errorless value of measured
variable is known as true value • Bias – The Constant Error • Tolerance- Maximum Allowable error in Measurement

Dynamic Characteristics
• The set of criteria defined for the

instruments, which are changes rapidly with time, is called ‘dynamic characteristics’.

Dynamic Characteristics
• Steady state periodic • Transient • Speed of response • Measuring lag

• Fidelity
• Dynamic error

• Steady state periodic – Magnitude has a
definite repeating time cycle • Transient – Magnitude whose output does not

have definite repeating time cycle
• Speed of response- System responds to changes in the measured quantity

• Measuring lag
– Retardation type :Begins immediately after the change in measured quantity – Time delay lag : Begins after a dead time after the application of the input

• Fidelity- The degree to which a measurement system indicates changes in the measured quantity without error • Dynamic error- Difference between the true value of the quantity changing with time & the value indicated by the measurement system

Errors in Instruments
• Error = True value – Measured value or • Error = Measured value - True value

Types of Errors
• Error of Measurement • Instrumental error • Error of observation • Based on nature of errors

• Based on control

Error of Measurement
• Systematic error -Predictable way in

accordance due to conditions change • Random error - Unpredictable manner • Parasitic error - Incorrect execution of


Instrumental error
• Error of a physical measure • Error of a measuring mechanism • Error of indication of a measuring instrument • Error due to temperature

• Error due to friction
• Error due to inertia

Error of observation
• Reading error • Parallax error • Interpolation error

Nature of Errors
• Systematic error • Random error

Based on control
• Controllable errors
– Calibration errors – Environmental (Ambient /Atmospheric Condition) Errors – Stylus pressure errors – Avoidable errors

• Non - Controllable errors

• Correction is defined as a value which is added algebraically to the uncorrected result of the measurement to compensate to an assumed systematic error. • Ex : Vernier Caliper, Micrometer

• Calibration is the process of determining and adjusting an instruments accuracy to make sure its accuracy is with in manufacturing specifications.

• A part which can be substituted for the component manufactured to the small shape and dimensions is known a interchangeable part. • The operation of substituting the part for similar manufactured components of the shape and dimensions is known as interchangeability.

Compiled by

D.Vasanth Kumar Assistant Professor Department of Mechanical Engineering Jansons Institute of Technology

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