Two Engineers Using Computerized CMM Arm In Factory

Measurement Lab Technician

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Did you use to play with rulers and tape measures when you were younger? Did you have a set of carefully organized measuring tools that you liked to keep to yourself instead of sharing with siblings? Were you very detail orientated and felt no cut should be made until you had measured two or three times to ensure its accuracy? If any of these descriptions sounds familiar you may have the skills needed to be a measurement lab technician in your blood.

Measurement Lab Technician Job Description

The role of measurement lab technician is often overlooked in the automotive engineering world, until engineers must qualify a part and then suddenly everyone needs their expertise. When an automotive engineer is qualifying a new component for release or a production engineer is validating a new process or tool, they are required to measure the resulting part which must meet the design and tolerance requirements on the print as well as the statistical repeatability requirements in order to release a part or process. The measurement lab technician is responsible for taking the measurements on the sample parts, calculating the statistical Cpk and providing the results to the engineer for their qualification. The challenge that the measurement lab technician faces is that making the measurement can be very challenging depending on the surface finish, color or size of the part being measured and each measurement must be done with a calibrated piece of tooling.

One note, quick and accurate work is required for a measurement lab technician since many times their services are requested when there is an urgent deadline. A measurement lab technician holds the key to finishing the release and they will often have engineers hovering over them waiting for them to complete their work. In a busy engineering environment, they are one of the most important people at the office or plant.

Educational Requirements for a Measurement Lab Technician

A measurement lab technician may not have the same education requirements as their co-workers in engineering. This position often requires only an Associate’s Degree and some employers will accept employees with just a high school diploma or graduate equivalency degree (GED) if they work under an experience technician for a period of time. Once you have started your work as a measurement lab technician you will often be trained in a specialty piece of equipment that is capable of doing the specific measurements needed for the part that you must qualify. Each type of specialty equipment will have different requirements from how to manipulate and use the measuring apparatus to programming skills required to run the software needed to control the machine. The size and type of tools and equipment used varies from small calipers to large machines that require an entire lab. Additional requirements for a measurement lab technician include a knowledge of how to read drawings, basic mechanical understanding for part structures and planning skills to ensure that tools stay calibrated and within specifications.

Specialization Opportunity

An example of the specialized work that a measurement lab technician is required to perform involves using a Coordinate Measuring Machine or CMM. This machine will do detailed measurements on a part in multiple dimensions and provide reference points on the part and allow for additional processing or validation. Running this equipment requires specialized training and programing skills to run the full suite of measurements needed to characterize a part.

The often overlooked job of the measurement lab technician is one of the most critical roles within the product qualification process. They can sometimes spend their time in a laboratory peering at a screen or measuring a part and the work is fairly simple but stress-free. However when things get busy, they may have someone standing over their shoulder eager to see the results.  So if you’re looking for a job that has many immediate rewards and will gain the gratitude of the engineers who rely on you, then consider becoming a measurement lab technician.

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