API’s Great Yarmouth facility features a UKAS accredited test house with a US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Laboratory Suitability approval for performing tests in accordance with both MIL-STD 883 and MIL-STD 202, making it stand apart from other test houses in Europe. In this Q & A, John Ellero, Great Yarmouth’s Test House Engineer, explores what other attributes make our test house a unique proposition to our customers.
Q: What are some of the climatic tests that we perform?
A: We run a variety of environmental tests, including extreme high (250°C) and low (-65°C) temperatures, temperature cycling (gradual and/or thermal shock), humidity, vibration, and mechanical shock. Depending on the environment that the product will be used in, we may also do a combination of these tests. While the details of a certain set of specs may vary, the fundamental tests that we perform remain the same. What really sets us apart from other test houses are the variety of testing methods we offer coupled with the combination of approvals and certifications we have earned.
Q: The Great Yarmouth test house has had DLA Laboratory Suitability approval for MIL-STD 883 and MIL-STD 202 test methods for 25 years, has been accredited by the UKAS for the past 30 years. How difficult is it to achieve these approvals, and what does the process entail?
A: These approvals all have different sets of stringent requirements that are measured during the auditing process. The UKAS focuses more on our technical capabilities, whilst the DLA makes sure that we fully understand all of their numerous requirements. The fact that we believe we are the only test house in Europe to simultaneously hold UKAS accreditation, DLA approval, for MIL-STD 883 and MIL-STD 202 test methods is a good indication of how difficult it is to obtain them.
In addition to agencies like the UKAS and the DLA, we are also regularly audited by our customers. For us to be eligible to participate in certain space programs, a major US space agency's auditors join the DLA team to evaluate our test house. In fact, one agency auditor was so impressed by our operation he remarked that we had one of the best test houses he had ever audited.
Q: Why would customers want to use our test house over their own house or one of our competitors?
A: Firstly, many companies that previously performed testing in-house have made the transition to outsourcing testing. It’s easier and more cost effective for them to utilize our test house rather than maintaining their own testing facility and equipment, gaining the necessary approvals and accreditations, etc. Outsourcing has become so attractive to our customers that we have seen our external testing double over the past few years.
As for our competitors, we offer a unique suite of credentials that few other test houses can match. DLA approval is not common in the UK or Europe, and the requirements necessary to gain the approval are very stringent. The fact that we have obtained both DLA approval and MIL-STD 883 and MIL-STD 202 certification gives our customers excellent confidence in our capabilities.
We also offer unique test methods to the UK and European markets: liquid to liquid thermal shock, high level constant acceleration, and high level mechanical shock up to 30,000g. A few years ago we upgraded our vibration testing equipment so that it can now take a static load of up to 500kg. This allows us to perform tests in many different stages of the supplier chain all the way up to full chassis testing.
Learn more about API's Great Yarmouth test house or request more information.