Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education Website Archive

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Ministers' website for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Profiles of researchers from various agencies under Senator Carr's portfolio.

Under the microscope 

 Fuel dispenser being tested in the EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) chamber.

Fuel dispenser being tested in the EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) chamber.


Without the National Measurement Institute (NMI), there would be no accurate way for customers or businesses to know they're getting a fair deal. Buy a kilo of potatoes or a litre of fuel, and you put your trust in the system the Institute upholds.

One of the groups within NMI that plays an important part in maintaining this confidence is the Pattern Approval team.

The team ensures that measuring instruments used for trading product in Australia maintain their accuracy - whether it's mass, volume or length that matters.

Whilst the majority of their work is for the National Trade Measurement system, the pattern approval team also performs the same function for legal measuring instruments such as evidential breath analysers.

At the check-out and in the courts, accuracy is essential. The team ensures instruments stand up through a range of conditions that they are likely to experience every day.

As Pattern Approval Section Manager Amanda Rawlinson explains, this process includes subjecting instruments to extreme heat and humidity or cold; electromagnetic interference (from devices such as mobile phones); and spikes or variations in the instruments' power supply.

"Australia has one of the harshest environments for measuring instruments to operate within. For example the same instrument can be required to work accurately in the humid heat of the wet season in the Northern Territory or the sometimes freezing conditions of a Tasmanian winter," Dr Rawlinson said.

"The stringent testing that takes place in our laboratories arms manufacturers with the tools they need to develop accurate and reliable measuring instruments for Australian trade. Through NMI's international collaboration, these manufacturers may then be able to gain trade approval all over the world."

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