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Best of the test

Best of the test

16/06/2008 | Channel: Engineering, Business

Providing a variety of testing services, TÜV Product Service is a subsidiary of one of the leading technical service companies in the world.

TÜV Product Service Ltd, based in Hampshire, the UK, has supplied independent testing, certification, qualification, training and market access services to a wide range of industry sectors for over 50 years. Its services include mechanical, environmental simulation, electro-magnetic compatibility and safety testing, which it can perform at its two UK facilities or on-site at clients' premises.

Describing TÜV's credentials and outlining its history, managing director Jean-Louis Evans says: “We're part of the TÜV SÜD Group, a German company that employs 13,000 staff worldwide, and operate within its industry division.We started over 140 years ago in Germany in the age of steam when people were worried about new technology involving steam boilers in case they exploded. TÜV Product Service was created as one solution and we independently test, assess and certify products, fixed installations and automobiles.We're one of the largest companies of our kind in the world and our motto is' choose certainty, add value' - which means ensuring products are safe, fit for purpose and meeting regulatory or market requirements.We embody the four 'I's in that we're international, independent, impartial and interdisciplinary.”

As a powerful organisation, TÜV has a strong presence in various sectors thanks to its adaptable skills, as Jean-Louis explains: “In terms of the markets we're active in, the main UK ones are aerospace, defence, telecommunications, consumer products,
medical and rail. Our technical expertise can be applied to many different markets and the components of our outstanding customer service are built on quality, flexibility and speed. In terms of what we offer in the UK, within testing we carry out electromagnetic compatibility testing, climatic, shock and vibration simulations, and radio frequency testing.We also undertake a great deal of work on certifying and qualifying products, which is more of a desk-based exercise.”

Besides thoroughly testing products, TÜV ascertains the quality of factories around the world and supports organisations' supply chain management. “We're involved in auditing factories in the UK and increasingly in Asia because we're seeing more manufacturing in China,” reveals Jean-Louis. “We've had to recruit more auditors to provide the quality control that people want in a longer supply chain and provide supply chain quality management, particularly for retailers where consumer products are sold.We intervene by inspecting factories and when the product arrives in Europe or the UK we can provide post-shipment inspections, evaluations of products, and complaint investigations, providing explanations as to where the products went wrong.”

Continuing, he adds: “Big retailers are increasingly moving towards own-branding and taking on responsibility for importing the product directly, so they have to declare its compliance with legislation, regulations and directives.We help them ensure that what they're buying is safe and fit for purpose and that what they're receiving on a regular basis still meets the standards that they have specified. Supply chains have extended with the switch of manufacturing to China and therefore quality issues are becoming more difficult to manage, but we're trying to make sure that quality is maintained.”

Although TÜV enjoys tremendous success, it experiences both peaks and troughs due to the diversity of its markets and their dynamic conditions. Jean-Louis believes managing that to be the company's key challenge: “We have times when business is quiet and times when we have far more work than we can handle. Consequently, we have a very flexible workforce, able to work long hours when needed to complete a programme as the customer requires and adjust during quieter times. It's a mixed market - the defence side is weak due to expenditure on operational support for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has affected the sector's development of new technology. That's counterbalanced however by buoyant conditions in other industries, particularly export-led sectors so overall our activity levels have been sustained.

“We've also addressed that challenge by working closely over the last three years with Bath University to apply lean manufacturing concepts to a service company. Through those processes we've simplified the way we operate and used technology to better manage highs and lows. Lean is the basis for continuous improvement, which is fundamental for a progressive company.”

In an effort to further increase efficiency, TÜV recently joined the Aerospace Supply Chain 21st Century Initiative (SC21). “We've endorsed its principles and are currently in discussion with a number of aerospace contractors to develop closer relationships that we hope will simplify the processes of ensuring both the qualification of products and good quality within the aerospace sector. Through our SC21 commitment, we're looking at applying lean principles down the supply chain to the customer and suppliers.”

These measures will hold TÜV in excellent stead in the future as it aims to make a name for itself in all areas of its key markets. Jean-Louis concludes: “We're a household name in Germany but in the UK we're only well known on the B2B side. If we raise our profile then we'll be more active on the consumer product side, which is our current aim, and continue to strengthen our customers' competitiveness throughout the world by adding value.”

TÜV Product Service
Employees 140
Industry Product testing