At one end of Wade Road in Basingstoke sits one of the major compliance testing houses in the world. This is the Underwriters Laboratory or UL as it is known. UL’s mark is a mandatory approval to sell electrical equipment in the United States as is the CE mark for Europe. This is UL’s business, they test products to make sure they are safe for us all to use and that they can be awarded the UL and CE marks as proof.
As UL puts it they fosters safe living and working conditions for people everywhere through the application of science to solve safety, security and sustainability challenges. The UL Mark engenders trust enabling the safe adoption of innovative new products and technologies. Everyone at UL shares a passion to make the world a safer place. They test, inspect, audit, certify, validate, verify, advise and train and support these efforts with software solutions for safety and sustainability.
UL has been in Basingstoke for some 20 years now and in November announced a major expansion of their facility as they consolidate their operation in Basingstoke. Already a major employer in Basingstoke their expansion will add some 37,000 sqft of extra space, 15,000 sqft of which will be dedicated to EMC and Wireless testing, tripling in size it’s current facility. In November I was lucky enough to get a tour of the new facility with Darren Rust, UL’s UK Operations Manager so, here’s a sneak peek of what they are building there.
First of all let’s deal with the technical stuff. UL will be able to offer an extensive range of testing facilities with 4 three-meter semi-anechoic chambers, 3 three-meter full anechoic chambers, 6 large screened rooms and 7 DASY6 SAR systems for testing cellular and radio devices. That’s pretty impressive but, as Darren told me they are set up to provide a complete service to their customers from end to end with a range of testing capabilities and in-house expertise. The extra space will also allow them to offer a great customer experience when on site with breakout pods where they can work and a full service restaurant and coffee shop that caters to their every need.
Darren explained the expanded facility enables UL to leverage its service portfolio to a broader range of industries including: information technology equipment (ITE), telecom, automotive, medical and small and major appliance industries all under one roof. The new facility has allowed UL to incorporate enhancements to the semi anechoic EMC chambers that optimise the efficiency of radio performance testing. This combined with their customisable automation software helps mitigate risk and reduce their customer’s time to market. Commenting on the expansion, Phil Davies, general manager Consumer Technology for EMEA LA at UL said:
“This is another great moment in the development of UL’s compliance services in the U.K. The significant investment in new facilities will offer a one-stop service solution with state-of-the-art, custom-designed chambers and sourced equipment. Due to the enormous demand we’ve seen, we’re raising the bar in terms of service excellence, and by partnering with our customers, we fully expect to grow and develop further. This also results in new job opportunities whether in Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Finance or HR.”
Basingstoke with its close proximity to the fast growing ‘tech corridor’ in the south of England along the M3 was the perfect place for UL to expand their operations. Basingstoke is well situated to help UL attract new talent, while also further developing its relationships with local colleges and Universities to produce the talent that will be crucial to UL over the coming years. It was great to be there at the start of what will be an exciting journey for them.
By Adrian Braine