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Joining forces

 

Virtually everything that comes out of the TÜV NORD GROUP has team spirit at its heart. Many projects involve the coming together of different people and cultures; entire business units as well as companies at home and abroad are joining forces in various shared endeavours. But how do they manage to share their knowledge, pool their energy and master ­challenges? We’ve been exploring what it takes to make a ­successful team.

 

Teamplay in the desert

Mohamed Gad
Senior Electrical Engineer, TÜV NORD EGYPT

V Viswanathan
Senior Vice President, Infrastructure and Renewables, TÜV India

Solar modules as far as the eye can see. A global team of photovoltaic specialists has installed some 400,000 panels in the middle of the Egyptian desert. In Benban, about 650 km south of Cairo, the gigantic solar power plant comprises two 50-megawatt plants. To enable it to manage a construction project of this size, TÜV NORD Egypt positioned itself along a broad front. The cooperation was international, and each role clearly assigned: TÜV NORD Egypt took on the project management and monitored the planning and construction work on site on a day-to-day basis; TÜV India’s tasks were design review, performance monitoring and plant inspection; and TÜV HELLAS from Greece certified the photovoltaic system.

As V Viswanathan, Senior Vice President, Infrastructure and Renewables, reports: “TÜV India has a great deal of technical expertise in the renewable energy sector. When TÜV NORD Egypt asked us for help, we offered training on a team-to-team basis. Our aim was to transfer specific knowledge to expand the solar sector in Egypt.”

“Eight engineers and managers worked flat-out here for a whole year,” says Stavros Togias, Head of Renewables at TÜV HELLAS. “For the sake of efficient teamwork, we even developed our own software tool and a virtual data room. This allowed us to reconcile about 500 documents in just four months just to verify and approve the plant.

Mohamed Gad, Senior Electrical Engineer at TÜV NORD Egypt, is proud to have been involved in the world-class project: “My learning and performance curves were both incredibly steep. Things were tricky in the team to start with because we all came from different cultures and language areas. But we quickly managed to get over this obstacle. At the end of the day we worked closely together for a year and even lived together in a single building – like a family. I think it takes a certain kind of harmony in the team for a project in this format to succeed.”

“The greatest challenge came in the middle of the construction phase,” V Viswanathan reveals. “When the central project manager stepped down, everyone was really concerned. But our project proceeded smoothly thanks to the intervention of a skilled senior team member. The collaboration of everyone involved was exemplary.”

“Bringing different cultural mentalities together is a major challenge,” Stavros Togias agrees. “But the strong project management provided by TÜV NORD Egypt gave our team play a huge boost. And, from the very beginning, we had one shared language: that of international technical standards. This was like a bridge between us.”

 

Concentrated know-how for smart tyres

Tyres have a significant impact on how cars perform on the road. The right tyre ensures good traction and low rolling resistance – resulting in enhanced safety and reduced fuel consumption.

For everything from smartphones and soya drinks to renewable energy sources, TÜV India has been offering companies the opportunity to test their products, meet international standards and acquire valuable certifications in its state-of-the-art testing facilities for over ten years. “Our level of expertise is high. But the demands on our laboratories became higher still when one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturers, Apollo Tyres, approached us with a commission to test its special sensors,” says Manish Bokade, Head of the Product Testing Laboratory at TÜV India. The sensors guarantee maximum tyre quality and, at the same time, collect data for innovative product developments. “For such a special contract, we really needed to further develop our existing EMC testing facilities. And to do that, we brought in reinforcements. From experience after screening sister companies in the TÜV NORD GROUP, we were sure that ALTER TECHNOLOGY SPAIN (ATN) could offer exactly the right expertise.”

As Rafael Rodríguez at ATN recalls: “Our collaboration began in August with a two-day kick-off event. Our Indian colleagues took a close look at the test facilities here in Madrid. Together we analysed the performance spectrum of our two laboratories – coming to the conclusion that we complemented each other outstandingly well. We’re now developing a solution in the team that is precisely tailored to the needs of the tyre manufacturer.” Manish Bokade adds: “Even though it took a certain amount of time for us to adapt to the language differences and harmonise our work processes, personal meetings and regular dialogue are helping us make steady progress.” And Mr. Bokade sees great potential for the future: “The transfer of know-how between TÜV India and ATN has been astonishing. As a team, we can achieve a higher level of performance and offer a broader portfolio. And our customers will continue to benefit enormously from this in the future.”

New label for sustainable raw materials

Dr. Andreas Hucke
Project Manager, DMT

Andreas Backs
Auditor in the Sustainability department / Project Manager, TÜV NORD CERT

Whether or not salmon comes from sustainable fishing is revealed by the MSC seal. An FSC label shows if paper comes from responsible sources. But more and more consumers are wondering where the raw materials in their smartphones actually come from. How and under what conditions have people extracted and processed them? Human rights are often not respected in the extraction of raw materials, which is also harmful to the environment and sometimes even illegal. Global retail chains make it difficult to trace raw materials with 100% accuracy. And this is exactly where the team of experts from DMT and TÜV NORD CERT has come to the fore – in cooperation with three European universities and a Swedish research team. “Together we’re developing the new ‘CERA’ (Certification of Raw Materials) label with the aim of establishing it as a globally valid certificate. This provides transparency by offering information on the sustainable extraction and origin of all mineral raw materials,” explains Dr. Andreas Hucke, who is considered the initiator of the project and also manages it at DMT. The pilot phase started in December 2019, with the global launch scheduled for 2020.

And how is the teamwork going? “Like yin and yang, our skills complement each other,” Dr. Andreas Hucke says with a laugh. “DMT is highly qualified in the mining sector, and TÜV NORD CERT has the certification expertise. And yet, even though we’re near neighbours in Essen, there used to be hardly any contact between us. The synergy potential has practically been on our doorstep all along – but you still have to recognise it and put energy into it.” “To exploit this potential, we communicate very openly,” says Andreas Backs of TÜV NORD CERT, describing the cooperation.

“For a Europe-wide team with six partners, it’s extremely important to have frequent exchanges of ideas and information. This is the only way we can see how the project is progressing, discuss new ideas and avoid duplications of work on the same task. Dialogue doesn’t only enhance our professional expertise. It also requires you to develop and refine a characteristic that’s fundamental for team players: emotional intelligence.”

Greenhouse gas monitoring from space

In the future, satellites won’t just help to identify emitters of air pollutants but will also be able to precisely measure the greenhouse gases which are currently still being inventoried: According to UN rules, the amount of natural gas or coal, for example, burned per year has to be calculated, as do the resulting emissions.

Readers who are familiar with self-driving cars may have heard of the LIDAR scanner. It works rather like a radar that covers the traffic on every side of the car. ALTER TECHNOLOGY SPAIN (ATN) is now using this optical measurement method in its ambitious HOLDON project to investigate the causes and consequences of global warming caused by greenhouse gases. This is because, with the aid of laser beams and high-precision photo diodes, LIDAR technology can also measure gas concentrations. And because the remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere requires measurements that are only possible from space, a team of experts is needed. For ATN engineer, Ms. Mónica Rodríguez, this has opened up new horizons: “So far in my career I’ve worked in small teams, but seven European partners are cooperating here, all of which are world leaders in various areas associated with LIDAR missions. All their expertise and skills have been pooled in HOLDON.”

Juan Barbero, Project Manager and Technical Manager at ATN, reports on the immense synergy effect: “Working as a team we’re achieving goals that are greater than the sum of our individual achievements. In my view, you need two stable pillars for successful teamwork: the know-how that someone actively brings to the project and the trust you place in each other. It helps a lot to be as familiar as possible with the areas of expertise of the others. This is one of the functions of our annual team meetings. In my experience, however, conversations about private things, such as studies or family, also help generate the trust you need to work together.”

“To ensure that we always share the latest progress in the project, we have video conferences once a month,” adds Ms. Rodríguez. “Talking to experts from other disciplines doesn’t just have a massive learning effect. We also often develop new ideas together which can then be implemented even more easily in the team. Our strength is the interdisciplinary nature of the team. For us, ‘together’ is the only way to achieve our goal: to launch the first greenhouse gas LIDAR.”

 

Driving licence on your smartphone

Renate Bartelt-Lehrfeld
Ministerial Councillor and Head of Unit, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrascructure

Wolfhardt Werner
Head of Driving Licence Competence, TÜV NORD Mobilität

Please get your mobile so we can check your driving licence.” These are words that drivers are likely to hear more often in the near future. The idea of a digital driving licence sounds obvious – after all, who really wants to have to carry all their papers with them? But providing highly sensitive data and official identification documents on your smartphone is a revolutionary step. “Not only do you need the right hardware and software here, but the authorities have also got to play along and be involved in the development right from the start,” explains Wolfhardt Werner, Head of Driving Licence Competence at TÜV NORD Mobilität. “The first step in our project is to focus on a ‘provisional driving licence’. After all, just for the short period between passing the test and getting your physical driving licence, we currently need 250,000 to 300,000 documents as evidence each year. This is a real logistical challenge. A digital version could be created and issued much more efficiently. This is also not without its challenges, of course: what happens if you have technical problems or the phone signal is poor? How can a driving licence be withdrawn in the event of an administrative offence? It’s to answer these questions that we pooled our resources: our team consists primarily of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and the consortium of the TÜV | DEKRA arge tp 21 and TÜV NORD Mobilität notified technical inspection bodies.”

Renate Bartelt-Lehrfeld, Ministerial Councillor and Head of Unit at the BMVI, describes the issue from her point of view: “The digital evolution of the driving licence is being pulled different ways by the law, the technology and administrative needs. However, thanks to our early and close coordination with TÜV NORD and the inspection organisations, we’re getting closer and closer to the solution. We regularly exchange ideas and have developed a process which has already proven itself in other projects. We want a result that benefits everyone – from the testing centre to the successful learner driver.”

 

Training under real conditions

Even a relatively small Airbus like the A320 consists of more than three million individual parts. To ensure that the aircraft works reliably and to avoid accidents, the planes are regularly serviced and the safety-relevant parts replaced at set intervals.

Demand for well-trained Airbus aircraft mechanics is growing. But while you can acquire the theoretical knowledge anywhere, specialised practical training needs a hands-on approach – one that involves real aircraft parts. And this is exactly what participants in the Airbus training scheme will find in the huge hall of the TÜV NORD Schulungszentrum in Hamburg. Here, parts of the main structure of an A300, the entire upper shell of an A320 and various other aircraft parts are available to them. Ideal conditions are in place to acquire the necessary qualifications in aircraft construction – ranging from surface protection to maintenance and assembly of the whole structure. And TÜV NORD is providing not just the hall with its training objects but also well-trained instructors to boot.

“In 2011, we responded to Airbus’ first request and, following certification of the trainers by the Airbus Group, concluded a cooperation agreement. We started small but grew strongly and are practically fully booked for 2020,” says Frank Finster, Head of the Aviation Department at the TÜV NORD Schulungszentrum. “For me, team play has always been part of my job, but our cooperation with Airbus needs even closer coordination. This is because you get constant technical innovations and new requirements, meaning that our courses and trainers also need permanent updates. We’re working with Airbus to develop these as we go along. We also all work together like clockwork in the coaching team.”

A sentiment that Jens Ringe, Head of Industrial Academy at Airbus, echoes: “I very much appreciate our collaboration with Mr. Finster. He and his team are open to new issues and changes. And, above all, they contribute new ideas and are also there when things start to get tight. This is why the Industrial Academy has been working successfully with TÜV NORD for years.” Frank Finster agrees: “When there is complete trust, dialogue becomes a very simple matter. We also provide Airbus with feedback on course content and participant performance. This constant connection is an important stabilising factor in the rapidly changing aviation sector. Who knows, maybe that's our secret of success.”