The role of test laboratories for automotive suppliers – MD test labs in Beijing and Changzhou, ISO 17025 accreditation

Tech Talk is a series of interviews that introduce you to some inspiring personalities within and outside of MD and the world of technology, innovation, and more.

In this edition, we met up with Dr.-Ing. Alexander Haas, Director Test Lab at MD. We talked about his work at MD, the accreditation of the MD laboratory in China, the role of test laboratories for automotive suppliers, what MD can offer and what the future plans are in this area.

Alexander, please tell us a little about yourself. What was your career path and what do you appreciate most about your work at MD ELEKTRONIK?

I studied electronic engineering and information technology at Munich Technical University and completed my doctoral studies with a dissertation entitled “Materials in on-board networks”. After that, I had the opportunity to join a major OEM, but I made the conscious decision to join MD, i.e. a medium-sized company, instead. I have never regretted it. Right from the start, at MD, I was not just a small cog in the machinery, but I was able to shape my own development and that of the company. In 2014, I was asked to manage the laboratory in Waldkraiburg as the youngest member of what was, at the time, a lab team consisting of five people. Today, in the MD group, we have six laboratory sites with over 60 colleagues throughout the world and hundreds of test devices.

Could you please describe MD’s global lab environment in more detail?

We have a test lab at each of our sites. Of special significance is the lab at our Waldkraiburg headquarters: it has been accredited for over 10 years now, and has taken on the role of technology leader. This is where the development tests and product approval qualifications take place. The activities of all other laboratories in the group are also managed from here along with all accreditation processes. The labs at the production sites concentrate on re-qualifications and quality issues. MD has been investing in the development of this laboratory infrastructure and its skills for many years.

MD’s test labs in Beijing and Changzhou have recently acquired ISO 17025 certification*. Can you tell us more about this?

The certification of our MD test labs in Beijing and Changzhou is the third international accreditation project that we have successfully carried out. Coordination with the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) and the assessors on-site in China ran successfully across different time zones and continents, and together we were able to master this complex project with its many challenges. An important step was the introduction of an ISO 17025-certified management system across different locations which involved coordinating all the processes, documents and procedures from Waldkraiburg, and implementing them on-site in China. To achieve this, we conducted intensive training with our experts on-site in Germany. In this context, I spent a few months in China together with colleagues from our laboratory team. We carried out internal audits as a dress rehearsal for the final assessment conducted by DAkkS in February 2024, which ultimately led to a positive outcome. The project also made it possible to strengthen the relationships between colleagues from the headquarters and those in China, and enabled us to gain valuable intercultural experience.

What roles do the test laboratories play in terms of quality management in the automotive industry in general and what makes MD’s laboratories so special?

Test laboratories ensure that products meet the industry’s strict requirements. By testing materials, components and end products, they help to minimize errors and ensure operational reliability. These laboratories are of central importance to maintaining high product and process quality. For automotive suppliers, having our own laboratories means being independent from third parties and therefore being faster and being able to react more flexibly in this area.

One of MD’s special features is that it specializes in the local requirements of OEMs in the area of cable manufacturing. So, MD laboratories in China can carry out tests according to the standards of Chinese OEMs whereas in Europe, for example, nobody can do this within an accredited framework.

What specific test and quality assurance challenges do MD’s test laboratories have to face in particular, and how do they tackle them?

We face the challenge of having to consistently comply with all standards and, at the same time, having to adapt rapidly to new technologies and materials. The efficient integration of quality assurance processes in the early phases of product development is crucial to ensuring high quality right from the start. In addition, coordinating resources and priorities, and handling problematic events require sophisticated escalation management across different sites. MD’s laboratories face up to these challenges by maintaining the objectivity and independence of our in-house quality assurance processes, and maintaining close international coordination in order to ensure standardized work at all locations.

What are the plans for the test laboratories in the coming years?

We are starting this year with the accreditation of our lab in Bulgaria – further locations will then follow. New OEMs are entering the market with their own demands, and we react to this through local specialization so that we are optimally positioned to meet the requirements of the OEMs on site. We also have to deal with all international requirements at the headquarters so that we are able to cover the many different test standards.

In addition, in Waldkraiburg, the areas of material analysis and material testing are being reorganized so that they are even more broadly positioned. In the area of coordinate measuring technology, we are continuing to invest in state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D scanners and precision computer tomographs.

Alexander, many thanks for this very interesting conversation!

Test laboratories – crucial to quality management in the automotive industry 

Test laboratories are essential for achieving high product quality as, by testing materials right up to the end product, errors are reduced and reliability ensured. MD ELEKTRONIK is investing massively in this area. For example, the test labs at both production sites in China have recently received ISO 17025 accreditation. This represents a key step to establishing ourselves on the Chinese automotive market. The strategy is to specialize the test laboratories at the global locations in order to meet the requirements of local OEMs and to always offer the best possible test solutions.

High-performance and extremely reliable data connections form the backbone of automotive road transport. MD ELEKTRONIK is at the forefront of these technologies and leading the way with an international network of experts.

Contact MD now and find out more about the latest innovations.

Contact us

*ISO 17025 certification by the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) attests to the fact that a test laboratory meets the international requirements of the industry in terms of competence and quality.

Dr. Alexander Haas

After studying electronic engineering and information technology at Munich Technical University, Alexander Haas completed his doctoral studies with a dissertation entitled “Materials in on-board networks” in cooperation with a major OEM. He has been a senior manager at the MD Group since 2014 with overall responsibility for all test labs. What he particularly appreciates about his work is the international, intercultural cooperation and the networking of all the group’s laboratories to form one large team. In his spare time, he loves playing boogie-woogie on the piano and is a member of a rockabilly band.