Founded in 1952, General Research Institute for Nonferrous Metals (GRINM) is a large research and development institution with comprehensive strength in China’s non-ferrous metal industry. As the central enterprise under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, and the base for technological development national/international scientific and technological cooperation, GRINM has more than 10 national innovation labs. These labs have provided a large number of new materials, processes and equipment for key national projects such as atomic and hydrogen bombs, satellites, nuclear submarines, manned spaceflight, lunar exploration and large aircraft.
China United Test & Certification Co., Ltd. is one of the research and development and technical service entities of GRINM. Established in August 2017, China United Test mainly specializes in inspection and testing, technology development and service, testing equipment development, technical training and product certification. In the next three years, China United Test will conduct a nationwide network layout in the main industrial clusters according to the local industrial planning.
China United Test won the “National New Materials Testing and Evaluation Platform – Main Center” project in 2018. The project is part of the 2017 industrial transformation and upgrading funded by the Made in China 2025 Initiative. In this project, China United Test is responsible for the comprehensive testing and evaluation services development; including application of key common testing technologies and capabilities for new materials, strengthening the technical innovation of testing and evaluation, carrying out the resources planning, business allocating, authentication, and evaluation of the National New Materials Testing and Evaluation Platform.
COEXISTENCE OF OPPORTURNITIES AND CHALLENGES
As the contractor of the National New Materials Testing and Evaluation Platform – Main Center, China United Test has high standards for the laboratory construction. As the seniorengineer, Li Pu, Director of the Performance Testing Department at China United Test, is responsible for testing and evaluating the performance of materials. He said, “First, China United Test must be able to measure accurately and provide authoritative test results; secondly, it must be able to provide testing and evaluations from all aspects, which is a challenge for the testing technology, methods and personnel.”
To achieve the goal of measuring accurately and comprehensively, China United Test has encountered a variety of challenges. Most of the tests are performed in strict accordance with the national testing standards, but with the expansion of the application field, in the face of customer’s growing customization requirements, there sometimes isn’t a national standard for certain tests. This is a big challenge for the testing lab—how to achieve customer acceptance. Li said, “In the wake of customization requirements, to provide customers with satisfactory results, we are constantly exploring more accurate methods. We need to make this method a standard and publish it, get recognition from the market, use it for testing in the same industry, and provide a standardization for industry. Li Pu said that in the upcoming years, China United Test is planning to formulate hundreds of standards, both national and industrywide, for evaluating the performance of new materials.
In addition to the development of new testing methods, the requirements for testing equipment are becoming more complex. For example, in the high temperature test, the temperature requirement has gradually increased. Previously, fatigue testing and tensile testing only required 1000°C, but now they may require 1200°C - 1300°C in high temperature tests.
Facing the changes in testing and equipment capability, China United Test urgently needed first-class solutions to support the rapid layout and development of their lab. Li said that China United Test had not worked with MTS, but had paid close attention to MTS. This is the story of how China United Test and MTS had the opportunity to cooperate on this project.
At the beginning, due to some unexpected circumstances, Li Pu and his colleague Cao Zhenhua delayed the purchase of the company’s lab equipment. Cao was the Deputy Director of China United Test’s Technology Center. He was mainly responsible for the equipment procurement and management of the company.
The two colleagues, becoming anxious as the project delivery deadline crept closer, brought MTS on board. Li and Cao needed two systems delivered within two months. MTS had to receive the order, manufacture the systems, reassemble them and ship them from the United States to Beijing.
Completing the systems and shipping them to China within that time frame was nearly impossible, but MTS was willing to try. During the two months, Li and Cao worked closely with MTS sales and engineering resources, and the final delivery happened as scheduled. Both China United Test and MTS were satisfied with the results, and built a good relationship and trust during the collaboration.
Since then, the two companies have maintained a beneficial relationship and MTS continues to provide recommendations for China United Test. According to Li, the cooperative relationship between the two sides is going very smoothly: “MTS’ service is perfect, both in technology and business. MTS has provided us a lot of support. In cooperation with MTS, we have purchased 13 systems, from low-end to high-end equipment, which have greatly improved the testing capabilities of China United Test. I am confident in the future of our relationship. In the beginning, our relationship was strictly for business, but now, we work as partners.”
“Before purchasing these 13 systems, there were no ties between us. Although there have been some challenges, it is because of these things that we trust each other more. Our relationship, coupled with MTS’ reputation in the marketspace, keeps us very confident in the products and procurement advice from MTS, and thus far, our cooperation has been very smooth,” added Cao. After their in-depth experience with MTS, Li and Cao were more convinced that their choice was correct. Li said that MTS is a world-class brand, and the quality of its products need not be questioned. The data measured by MTS products was reliable, and the MTS technical team was very knowledgeable in material testing technologies. They knew which technologies could meet the diversified demands of testing institutions. Moreover, MTS’ technical services were people-oriented. MTS had a perfect after-sales team and many engineers for after-sales support in Beijing. No matter what problems occurred before and after the sale, they could be solved as soon as possible.
To further assist China United Test, MTS provided strong after-sales service. The after-sales project engineers were mainly responsible for coordinating project equipment arrival, disassembly and assembly, and for lab layout. MTS service engineers took charge of installation and commissioning of all equipment along with training on equipment operation. In addition, MTS had dispatched a training engineer to provide systematic training for all new staff. From project coordination to after-sales service and operation training, MTS and China United Test professional personnel met with each other, so as to ensure the smooth progress of the entire project.
“We have built a strong alliance that is able to integrate various resources with the influence of two brands, and achieve better testing laboratory results,” said Li. “Another reason we chose MTS is that many excellent laboratories in China adopt MTS equipment. We can ensure test data consistency and test result repeatability by using the same equipment. In the future, we want to integrate data into a database, so that we can compare and compile data. We will need to work together with some of the leading domestic laboratories, through the introduction of equipment, the development of new methods and the construction of key capacity. First of all, we will fill the gaps in China’s material testing field and then make it bigger and stronger.”