Prove your ideas with Northumbria

May 1, 2019

Businesses needing help to develop and test their products can now find the support they need from a new service being offered by Northumbria University. With a wealth of specialist equipment, facilities and expertise at its fingertips, the university has invested in a one-stop-shop providing testing, surveying and prototyping services to businesses. North East Times speaks to James Martin, professor of sensors, data acquisition and processing in Northumbria University’s Faculty of Engineering and Environment, to find out more

Why has the university set up this service?

While some companies might have testing facilities in-house, we know that others don’t have the specialist kit, knowledge or time to complete the testing needed to develop their new products or components. We have a huge range of kit and equipment, together with expert technicians and researchers, making our service highly cost-effective.

In what areas will you be offering support?

We’re initially providing support in the areas of structural integrity testing, which includes highly accelerated lifetime testing (HALT); 3D rapid prototyping; environmental testing; and surveying, scanning and construction advice, but this is likely to expand if there is demand for other services.

How exactly can you help businesses?

It’s two-fold. Quite often people don’t know the specifics of what they need to do or use. They just know they have a problem that needs to be solved and they need specialist help. On the other hand, some people will know we have a certain piece of equipment, and they’ll tell us exactly what they need from us. And of course, time is of the essence. We know that if you are at the point where you are asking for help, it usually means you need it quickly, so we’re able to issue a quote within a day or so.

Some companies may come to us for stress testing, for example, and ask for the raw data to interpret the results themselves. Another company may want us to develop a system to test their designs. Our highest end service combines the test programme with a consultancy report that recommends what we think they should do next.

Tell us about some of the projects you’ve been working on

Crustaceans growing on the surface of ships and tankers is a massive problem in the marine industry. We are working with a client which is producing some new slip-surface paints that make it more difficult for them to attach to the surface of ships. We’re developing a laboratory test system to see how effective their new paints are.

We’ve also been working with a company who developed a battery-powered testing and diagnosis system for use in remote global locations. They came to us to test their prototype and we quickly found that their kit needed to be refined. We have an environmental chamber where we can alter temperature and humidity. While the prototype was working perfectly well here in Newcastle, it would have failed in the searing heat of Africa. This is so important. If you’re working on a new prototype you must invest at the development phase to deliver a quality product.

Northumbria University