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A sure Thing – the Schüco Technology Center

The Schüco Technology Center in Bielefeld is one of the world’s largest testing centers for windows, doors, façades, and solar technology. It has been known for quality, reliability, and longevity. A recent complete renovation and an extension have
made the center even more efficient.

Since Schüco was founded in 1951, its products and systems have been known for their quality, reliability, and longevity. This is due among other things to the service portfolio of the Schüco Technology Center in Bielefeld, Germany, which contains Europe’s largest testing laboratories for windows and façades. The building was recently reconstructed and an extension was added. The technology center offers nearly all of the relevant testing procedures for windows, doors, façades, and solar technology. So far, around 1,200 tests have been performed annually. With the revamping and annex, this number will grow.

History of the Schüco Technology Center

The technology center can look back on 40 years of development and experience. The first steps of the technology center, which today is independent and internationally recognized, date back to 1967 and the founding of the “Testing” department, which was initially responsible for optimizing products. The laboratory simulated mechanical conditions windows and doors could be subjected to, suitability of permanent use, the impact of force, as well as conducting functional testing. The results paved the way for system developments. The first façade testing facility went into operation in 1980, at which point the first buildings could be tested. Over the course of years, the technology center has grown and the portfolio has expanded enormously. The scope and competence of the employees and the testing technology has also increased, as well as the specialization of the test facilities. In 1988, a testing facility for material bullet resistance was built and entered operation. In 1990, the first stereolithography facility for creating 3D samples went into operation, and in 1997 the Testing Workshop and Test Facility departments merged into one area, today’s Schüco Technology Center. The first extensions were built in 2000 and 2001, enabling watertightness tests to be performed on façades and acoustic tests on large models with state-of-the-art window technology. In 2005, the Schüco Technology Center was accredited as a worldwide acknowledged testing lab in accordance with DIN/EN/ISO/IEC 17025. Since 2006, training has been offered there in the dual system in mechatronics engineering, and since 2009, in electrical engineering. In October 2010, construction began on the extension to the technology center, which went into operation in 2012

The technology center’s spectrum of services includes consultation on building prototypes by internal technological development departments and testing of windows, doors, façades, and solar shading, as well as thermal and photovoltaic solar units. Individual components and accessories such as composite material, frame profiles, fittings, motors and drives, sealing and insulating materials, surfaces, and connection technology can be subjected to various tests. Aside from mechanical testing, building components testing, material testing, and durability testing, construction acoustic tests, safety tests, and environmental simulation tests can be carried out, to name but a few. Whether it is temperature, moisture, UV radiation, tightness, U-values, burglar resistance, bullet resistance, or fire resistance – all of the elements of an building envelope can be tested for durability and performance. Incidentally, this offer is not only available to Schüco departments but to all customers for whom the technology center can perform buildingspecific tests and Rapid Prototyping, and digitally control manufacture of sample building parts. Clients from all over the world take advantage of this offer and have their samples certified.

New offer in the extension

Since the existing technology center at Schüco’s Bielefeld headquarters was fully utilized, the decision was made to enlarge the testing laboratory by means of a reconstruction and an extension. The additional space now enables the portfolio to be supplemented and expanded. In the new “Impermeability Testing Hall”, the existing window testing facilities were brought together and a new one was added, thus enabling units with a maximum size of 5 × 5 m to be tested. For the so-called “dynamic driving rain test” in accordance with international standards, the propeller of a Dornier 228 aircraft is now available. Apart from larger environmental simulation technology, such as a climate chamber for smaller façade units, a hail testing facility, and a procedure for testing earthquake stability, the area for e-technical testing was expanded. This includes IP protection testing and particularly the ability to perform EMV tests, which enable the electromagnetic compatibility of electronic components to be evaluated. With the new space and technical possibilities, Schüco is now able to test new areas of technological development and the clients’ buildings at the highest level. Architects can see for themselves by taking a guided tour of the Schüco Technology Center.

Mr. Welk, you are the head of the technology center. What is the basis of the center’s success?

What is particularly exciting is the continual optimization and further development of the TC’s specialized, personnel, and organizational structures. We have just experienced the second massive extension within a period of ten years. It is a great honor for the employees and for myself to have been able to design all of this and to be a part of these developments. The special challenge, in my view, is to continually develop so that in the future we can say “Schüco can be proud of us.”

Hence the new extension?

In the middle of the last decade, it became apparent that some customer wishes could not be fulfilled due to limited capacitiy. In addition, new fields of technology came along which made it necessary to expand and deepen the center’s testing and measuring competencies. Cooperation between Corporate Coordination and the TC resulted in a suggestion that the executive management approved.

What advantages do customers have from the extended competence?

We will be more flexible in terms of our capacity and now have more possibilities available to us. In a nutshell, we are in a position to look after our customers – both internal and external ones – more comprehensively. External customers normally approach the Schüco TC in order to demonstrate that the products they make are in line with the requirements of the contract specifications. Many also use the opportunity to test the quality of their own designs before beginning manufacture. In addition to qualitative aspects, planning security and cost control play a role. If flaws are recognized early on, then there will be no complaints, no reworking will be necessary, no products will have to be exchanged, and there will be no faulty designs. The competence demonstrated through accreditation in the areas of plants, personnel, and organization give our customers the security that all of the results achieved are reliable and trustworthy.