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When executing a product design, manufacturing or installation project, one of the most important factors to guarantee optimal results is the correct measurement of both the space available for the project, as well as the materials and parts of the selected products. Everything requires a precise measurement that guarantees that what we are about to design or install will fulfill its functions without remaining halfway in the available space.

Now, how is this measurement carried out? In general, we use practical tools for this purpose: measuring tapes, rulers, reference materials or scales derived from the available space, among others. What all these options have in common is that they use measurement units that allow establishing in a normalized and standard way, the “real” value that exists for a material in one, two and three dimensions.

In this post, we are going to talk about and break down unit systems in a general way. From the types of measurement systems currently used, to those that are no longer used but marked a starting point for the common measurements that we use daily in the execution of projects. To begin, let’s define the unit systems:

sistemas de unidades
Construction plans


When we talk about unit systems, we refer to a group, set or types of pre-established units that are used to measure, quantify or dimension an existing object or space. These reference units allow, in a normalized way, to have a widely used standard for measurement and avoid any type of irregularity in the measurements taken. This is very important since without this type of consistency when measuring, the works and projects carried out in practically any science or profession would be full of incalculable errors.

Initially, the measurements taken as a reference for any type of project that required human intervention, were carried out with common elements available at hand. A branch, a rod, the breadth of the hand or feet; At first, this was a simple way to measure and know an estimate of the dimensions of the space or product/item to be manufactured. But, while this was a practical solution, problems soon began: Did all the hands measure the same? How to ensure that all the reference rods used were the same length? These were examples of some of the problems that arose. It is at this point where unit systems became relevant globally.


Taking the previous example as a reference, we can deduce the main purpose of a system of units. They are designed to normalize and standardize the measurement task or activity, guaranteeing greater precision and accuracy when sizing or measuring a part, space or element.

Standardization is precisely the process of applying standards that, in a standard way, allow a task or set of tasks to be carried out, guaranteeing the best possible results. Thanks to this concept and the units of measurement, it is possible anywhere in the world to measure a length or a weight and be sure that the final result is correct, regardless of where the measurement is made. This leaves the minimum margin of error and in the hands of the person in charge of measuring.

Now, is there a single system of units? The short answer is no. There are several unit systems in the world and although one is the most used and recognized, it is important to have an idea of ​​the rest of the systems and their main characteristics.


Next, let’s talk about the most used unit systems, from those that marked the beginning of standardized measurement but are in disuse to those that are widely known worldwide:


Let’s start with the most widely used and well-known system of units today. The international system of units uses 7 fundamental units for the measurement of various magnitudes. Fundamentally it allows to measure time, length, mass, electric current, thermodynamic temperature, amount of substance and light intensity. It also has derived units that come from the mixture or combination of the main units and with multiples and submultiples that allow very large or very small measurements to be covered.


This system, although for practical purposes it is currently in disuse or mixed with the international system, is the precursor of it. The decimal metric system has base units shared with the SI, but unlike it, it does not contemplate all the physical quantities previously mentioned. It is for this reason that it was used as a base system for the expansion and generation of the international system.


This system uses units based on the gram and centimeter. It is an easy-to-understand system that has now been absorbed almost entirely by the international system of units. This is mainly because the base units coincide with multiples or submultiples of the base units of the international system, therefore it becomes redundant to use them separately. However, on a scientific scale, the cegesimal system of units is still used and this difference between systems is specified by norms and standardization.


The Anglo-Saxon system of units, which in many ways bears similarities to the imperial system used in the former United Kingdom, is a system widely known to be the American system. This is a set of units that directly disagrees with the decimal system and is used only in the United States, England, and regions associated with these countries.


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