2013 marked the 10 anniversary of Exova’s pioneering Plzeň facility. After more than a decade of remarkable growth, the lab is now expanding into new markets.
In 2003, the Plzeň lab was established exclusively to service a key aerospace testing account for PCC (Wyman Gordon). It was set up and run initially by Stuart Abbs, now Exova’s European Aerospace sector director. Jiri Fidransky, current general manager of the facility, let Exova.com into the secrets of its success.
Jiri said: “I joined the lab in 2007. Over the course of a decade, Stuart and I have seen excellent levels of organic growth at the facility.
“Currently, the team specialise in production release testing on materials for aircraft engines and airframes. The expert team carry out over 75,000 tests a year, on over 25,000 jobs, including tests in both room temperature and elevated temperature tensiles; creep testing; stress rupture; fatigue; metallurgy and other mechanical testing. We mainly test nickel-based alloys, titanium, aluminium and high grade steel, and we also have the capability to test composites often to bespoke testing methods.
“In 2006 we moved to new premises, and we have expanded further within these premises. Our range of services has widened organically too; in 2008 we introduced fatigue testing, while in 2009 we established creep testing as one of our specialities. Now, we have one of Exova Group’s largest creep testing labs, containing 64 frames for creep strain and an additional 77 for stress rupture.
“The lab has established an enviable reputation over the years centred on its expertise and how we can help our customers. We’ve worked hard to ensure first and foremost that we are world-renowned for delivering quality and excellent service, and it’s for this reason that the Plzeň facility has grown as quickly as it has.
“Originally we had around 20 colleagues; now we have 50 working on shifts 24/7. We are committed to training our people and improving their skills, and in 2012 we invested in a bespoke training package for 15 colleagues on material science and testing. We are also work in partnership with Plzeň and Prague technical universities on key projects while providing practical training for their students.
“We’ve also grown our customer portfolio substantially, from working exclusively with one major customer a decade ago to having over 70 on our books now.
“Aerospace still accounts for around 85 per cent of our output, working with high profile organisations such as Bohler Schmiedetechnik, PCC, Aleris Rolled Products Germany and GE Aviation. The GE project is an interesting one for us, which involves specialised blade testing, mechanical testing and metallurgy. Our input will help the customer to improve production quality and efficiency, having a positive impact on its bottom line.
“We have also entered new markets, including a recently-won contract for the checking of titanium human body implants from Königsee Implantate GmbH.
“I believe the secret to the success of Plzeň can be attributed to three key criteria. Most important of all is to ensure the service we offer is of the highest possible quality. This is the key driver to overall customer satisfaction, and if the customer is satisfied it will invariably lead to growth. Also important is making sure you always deliver on time, and to budget. Finally, a strong line of communication with the customer is vital, ensuring our work and working practices are always transparent and clearly communicated at every step of the process.
“These are all basic attributes forming the cornerstone of any successful operation. By ensuring we get these things right, the technical work in which we specialise can take care of itself.”
To talk to Plzeň about your testing needs, please contact +44 (0)330 220 0321 or via email, email@example.com.
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