TÜV SÜD Expert Interview - Ben Koenig on new testing developments at TÜV SÜD's Holland Facility
Ben Koenig, Lab Manager with TÜV SÜD, got his start in the industry as an account manager with a testing company before moving into the test engineering space as a supervisor. Ben moved into a management role when TÜV SÜD acquired the company he was working for in 2007. He now works as the Lab Manager for TÜV SÜD’s facility in Holland.
Engine cooling services
The bulk of the engine cooling industry for TÜV SÜD exists within the automotive market place at the component level such as radiator, transmission oil coolers, and direct and indirect charge air coolers. It has expanded from typical vehicles like cars and trucks to the off-highway market which includes agricultural, mining and construction equipment. However, Ben and his team continue to expand to other heat exchanger types outside of the transportation industry such as generator sets and computer cores. Their services include thermal cycling and pressure cycling using various fluids - water, glycol, oil, transmission oil and others.
Essentially, Ben’s lab and engineering team have expanded from engine cooling durability testing of automotive components to testing of a variety of other components in other industries. What started out as simply thermal cycling radiators from hot to cold has developed into a sophisticated process with advanced control systems. The lab has been able to keep step with changes in manufacture’s specifications which has led to maintaining specific flow rates, elevated pressures and linearizing temperature ramp rates.
“Testing of Engine cooling components and providing customers advanced engineering solutions is by far the biggest part of what the Holland facility does,” Ben pointed out.
Over the past few decades in the industry, there was a lot of variability in testing standards. Ben’s team has been involved in the development of new, more comprehensive standards since the early 2000s, tightening up the methodology from location to location. That helps TÜV SÜD clients ensure their components have the longevity required by OEMs.
“We continue to stay close to the OEMs and our customers to develop new technology and keep pace with their developments,” Ben explained, “whether that’s increased cooling capacity, ranges, flow rates, temperature extremes - we continue to push those limits.”
After years of outsourcing Metallurgical services TÜV SÜD hired a metallurgical Engineer in 2016 and added these services to the TÜV SÜD portfolio. So far, there are two main focus areas. One was a natural progression from engine cooling services, like pit depth analysis or cooling component material analysis. The other grew from a desire to become more involved in failure analysis, especially given how much the Holland facility is involved in electrical testing. That involves components such as lighting, printed circuit boards, power distribution modules and connectors.
While the team has only begun to dig in on these services - right now, it consists mainly of digital microscopy and optical inspections - Ben is excited for what’s soon to come.
“We’re looking into a scanning electron microscope to give us higher resolution and better evaluations,” Ben mentioned. “That will allow us to better identify the composition of the materials we’re testing.
”The team is also looking at technologies like DCS, FTIR and XRD as it grows its failure analysis. It’s a growing package of services that Ben and his Holland facility are spearheading. These services could prove invaluable for TÜV SÜD clients who require on-site testing for fragile components and don’t want to bring in several testing providers for a single product or part.
Cyclic corrosion chamber
The Holland location has purchased an Ascott cyclic corrosion chamber - at 2600 liters, it’s one of the largest cabinets on the market. By purchasing such a large cabinet, Ben’s team is positioned to test larger components and equipment to different conditions.
For example, an automotive manufacturer can test an exterior component under a salt spray, fog or mist in one stage, go into a drying stage, and then cycle into a high-humidity state without the need for transferring samples to multiple chambers. The ability to test for those conditions is beneficial to manufacturers - especially in the automotive sphere - across various regions.
“In the northern states, where you have people putting calcium chloride on the road to keep them from freezing, you have all that mist and salt spray coming up off the road," Ben explained. "Conversely, in the southern shoreline states, you've actually got that salt mist coming off the ocean that you're trying to defend against."
TÜV SÜD’s investment in such a substantial piece of equipment - along with the development of more metallurgic testing services and other offerings - is a response to client needs. Ben and his engineering team approach each client with a fresh mindset and work to address each request. As a result, TÜV SÜD demonstrates a customer-centric approach that separates it from other providers in the space. Its ability to rollout new services following client feedback is a testament to that mentality.
To that end, it helps to have a staff with the expertise necessary to follow through.
“Our staff has several degreed engineers, programmers and controls-oriented people," Ben reiterated. "One of the things that's been the secret to our success is that our people can think about up-and-coming specs and be solution providers to our clients when they don't have the internal capability."
The goal is to be the only testing service and certification provider a company needs. The TÜV SÜD Test and Engineering team in Holland led by Ben Koenig have played a major role in that agile response to demand.