Making Visions Move

Making Visions Move

It is their enthusiasm for innovation and ­progress which drives the employees of the TÜV NORD GROUP to break new ground and find solutions to existing challenges. Six examples show how visions can create real added value.

Rapid tests for
traction batteries

New test procedures are offering fleet ­operators, dealers and private individuals greater certainty when it comes to battery condition.

Anyone who buys and sells used electric cars, repairs them or wants to maintain them, needs information about the condition of their most important components. One such crucial component is the traction battery, which accounts for about a third of the vehicle’s value on average. “However, reliable methods for evaluating the battery’s state of health are currently lacking,” says Jens Staron, Head of Business Competence at TÜV NORD Mobilität.

To be able to offer customers such as fleet operators, car dealerships or workshops a needs-based solution, TÜV NORD is testing various procedures and currently offering a two-stage test model. The system consists of a rapid test with diagnostic software. “A car dealership doesn’t test the charging and discharging processes over several days to monitor the parameters. Customers need affordable tests that work quickly,” says Mr. Staron. And this is precisely what is offered by the quick check, which has been verified by TÜV NORD and delivers results in 15 minutes. In the event of abnormalities, a more intensive test can be carried out which is equally suitable for the real-life monitoring of model series that are already on the market. “It’s reasonable for the test to take longer in the latter case,” says Leif-Erik Schulte. He is Executive Vice President of the Institute for Vehicle Technology and Mobility at TÜV NORD Mobilität and sees that more work is still needed on the path to developing test procedures across the board: “For periodic technical inspections, we ultimately need a standardised industry solution to evaluate the state of battery health. Individual solutions wouldn’t be comparable with one another.” For this reason, TÜV NORD is testing several of the solutions on the market and collecting large amounts of important battery data.

One thing is clear, though: The demand for standards is already there. According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, more than 470,000 fully electric passenger cars were registered in Germany in 2022. And then there are buses and lorries that require different test procedures. Looking to the future, Mr. Schulte says: “The market penetration of electric vehicles is increasing, and, in the future, there will be a Euro 7 standard that also covers the requirements for traction batteries for the first time. The requirements in respect of cybersecurity are also becoming more stringent. Assessment standards are going to be important by then, if not before.”

Jens Staron, Head of Business Competence TÜV NORD Mobilität, and Leif-Erik Schulte, Executive Vice President of the Institute for Vehicle Technology and ­Mobility at TÜV NORD Mobilität

Being able to see
the wood for the trees

Edinburgh-based GSI combines publicly available satellite data and other data stocks with machine learning to carry out detailed investigations for forest owners. For the TÜV NORD GROUP, the technology offers plenty of potential for synergies.

In the past, whenever forest owners have wanted to know how many trees they have, it has always been up to people to head out and count them in person. This is a very imprecise method, however, and simply not practicable for large forests. “In North America, you have forests which extend over many thousands of hectares,” explains Stephen Duffy. He is the managing director of ALTER TECHNOLOGY TÜV NORD UK, a subsidiary of ALTER TECHNOLOGY TÜV NORD (ATN) in Spain. The ATN Group represents the Aerospace business unit in the TÜV NORD GROUP. Mr. Duffy was additionally appointed to the Board of Global Surface Intelligence (GSI) as Investment Director in autumn 2022.

Stephen Duffy, Managing Director of ALTER TECHNOLOGY TÜV NORD UK

GSI uses satellite data and artificial intelligence, along with machine learning involving a patented method, to compile up-to-date and precise inventories of tracts of forest. Not only does this allow forest owners to find out how many trees they have, but GSI also provides information on tree species and sizes. “These data offer enormous potential for emissions trading,” Mr. Duffy explains. Trees absorb CO2 in varying volumes and at different rates, where the species and size of the tree are crucial. “A company that wants to use forests to offset its CO2 emissions needs to present exactly these data as evidence,” Stephen Duffy says. 

With the investment of the TÜV NORD GROUP, GSI will further expand its existing activities; the importance of the “Forest Carbon Market” is set to increase enormously, but for GSI’s technology this is only the start, says Mr. Duffy. “Much of what the TÜV NORD GROUP does is about testing, inspection and certification.” And it is still common practice for someone to travel to the site in question in person, for example to inspect a gas pipeline or a mine. Stephen Duffy is confident: “With GSI, it will be possible to use satellites to do some of this work in the future.”

Travelling safely
without a driver

Fully automated underground trains are making public transport faster and more punctual. In the Chinese metropolises of Shanghai and Shenzhen, TÜV NORD China deployed its technical safety expertise in the simultaneous support of two such underground railway projects. 

Fully automated underground trains offer many advantages compared to conventional systems: They can respond more flexibly to current passenger levels and are more punctual and less subject to disruption. However, the technical systems have to be absolutely safe and secure during actual operation. This need is especially acute if the highest grade of automation (GoA4) is realised, at which the trains operate completely without staff on board. The railway experts from TÜV NORD China have very quickly deployed their technical safety expertise in support of two fully automated underground lines in China: One in Shanghai and the other in Shenzhen. In both cases, the task of the expert teams was to undertake the complete documentation and inspection of the vehicles during their development and commissioning. “In the process, we audited the design and manufacture of the vehicles, for instance, as well as monitoring the vehicle tests. Once these important phases were over, we were able to issue the certificate for the autonomous operation of these underground lines,” says Zhou Liang, Internal Operation and Training Manager at TÜV NORD China. 

The fully automated underground line 18 in Shanghai commenced commercial operation in December 2021. “During peak hours, the trains operate at up to 86 percent capacity, and an extension to the line is already being planned. And we will be given the job of auditing and certifying this too,” explains Alex Gong, Senior Project Engineer at TÜV NORD China. The fully automated underground line 16 in Shenzhen was opened to the public at the end of 2022 and complements the existing autonomous train system there as part of the public transport network. 

Alex Gong, Senior Project Engineer at TÜV NORD China, and Zhou Liang, Internal Operation and Training Manager at TÜV NORD China

Geothermal energy
for the Münsterland

Seismic explorations from DMT are revealing the potential of geothermal energy as a climate-friendly, renewable energy source.

A virtually inexhaustible source of energy lies dormant beneath our feet – geothermal energy. This refers to the heat that is continuously generated in the Earth’s interior and “flows” towards the cold surface of the planet. With existing technologies, this resource can be used, for example as district heating for households and businesses. Seismic explorations provide information about suitable geological structures in the subsoil. The engineering service provider DMT, which belongs to the TÜV NORD GROUP, is Europe’s leading company in this field. 

Olaf Brenner, Project Manager at DMT, and Silke Bißmann, Senior Geologist at DMT

One of DMT’s most complex geothermal projects to date in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia was the investigation of large parts of the Münsterland, including the city of Münster, in 2021/2022. On behalf of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, DMT carried out the project as a complete service, which included everything from detailed planning, securing the necessary permits and execution of the explorations through to data analysis, geological interpretation and evaluation of the geothermal potential. “The particular challenge in this special case was to take explorations in a densely populated conurbation. We had to design them in such a way as to ensure that, on the one hand, all the structural and traffic-related conditions were taken into account, and on the other, that we would also obtain some meaningful seismic results,” says Olaf Brenner, who led the project at DMT. This pilot project will not be the last: Because geothermal energy supplies climate-friendly, renewable energy all year round, “this makes it a decisive element of the heating transition. By 2030, more than 400 new geothermal heating plants are due to be installed in Germany alone, and an individual exploration study is going to be required for each of them,” explains Silke Bißmann, Senior Geologist at DMT. 

The cyber detectives

First aid and digital forensic evidence in the event of hacker attacks

Hacker attacks are like the flu – no matter how many precautions you take, there’s always a residual risk of catching a virus. If a company is affected by an IT security incident, things get hectic very quickly. “This is an emergency for those affected,” says Claus Krause. The 35-year-old computer scientist from Speyer is the Lead Cyber Security Consultant at TÜV NORD IT Secure Communications and an expert in Digital Forensics and Incident Response. Mr. Krause and his team of three, who are spread throughout Germany, provide first aid in an emergency before embarking on a digital hunt for clues. Their contract customers range from small and medium-sized firms to listed companies. “In principle, anyone can contact us in an emergency,” says Mr. Krause. However, it’s a good idea to be in touch with an IT security partner beforehand so that you don’t have to spend ages looking for help on day X.

The most popular hacker scams are phishing e-mails with infected attachments. If an unsuspecting person at a company opens such an attachment, the software hidden in it can cause serious damage. “The attackers will often encrypt the victim’s storage media, so that they then no longer have access to their own data, and demand payment of a ransom,” says Mr. Krause. “The hackers often also threaten to publish the data.”

Once the horse has bolted, a race against time begins for the IT people. “It’s all about preventing the spread of the virus as quickly as possible. To do this, we get an idea of the type of attack, isolate the affected systems and interrupt the attack vectors,” Mr. Krause says, describing a typical scenario. After that, the vulnerabilities must be eliminated to ensure that this kind of attack does not happen again, and the final stage is to recover the data from backups to bring the affected systems fully back on stream. “Sometimes we do this remotely, but other times our people go out to the customer’s premises,” says Mr. Krause. The best thing about his job? “That we can help desperate people.”


Claus Krause, Lead Cyber Security ­Consultant at TÜV NORD IT Secure Communications

The flexible

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, digital learning formats have been booming. The live webinars at the OnlineCampus of the TÜV NORD Akademie have been enjoying considerable popularity for some time. Now the digital offer has been expanded to include e-learning and online teaching, so that course participants can learn wherever and whenever they want.

The prospect of having to train a large number of employees on a specific topic is enough to keep many managers awake at night. Even if online formats eliminate travel expenses, time-bound courses mean that, for a certain period, all the employees are away from their desks and not picking up on their day-to-day work. “This is impractical, especially if the courses are short, say 20 minutes for instance,” says Henning Detjen, who works in corporate development at the TÜV NORD Akademie. For this reason, the product portfolio of the OnlineCampus has been expanded under his leadership to include e-learning and online teaching. To make the offer as user-friendly and appealing as possible, the academy’s own graphics department was also involved in the process. “I’ve watched the academy grow for many years and am now pleased to be involved in its further development,” says media designer Sylvia Bauer, who, with her colleague Melanie Grass, also acts as an interface to the production company that creates the content of the formats.

Henning Detjen, Business Developer at the TÜV NORD Akademie, and Sylvia Bauer, Media Designer at the TÜV NORD Akademie

The new business model is ideally suited to mandatory instruction – for example in the fields of employment, health and data protection, including all their legal aspects, reports Mr. Detjen. Participants have access to the content all year round at any time and from anywhere. “This makes the learning process really flexible.” 

Currently, the focus is still very much on online teaching; in the near future, Mr. Detjen and his colleagues aim to further expand the e-learning range: “Our goal is to set up a whole database full of e-learning modules on all conceivable topics.”