Making the Quality Assurance Process Airtight
ATEQ USA is a Livonia, Michigan-headquartered leak testing solutions provider with over 40 years of experience providing accurate, customizable instruments to thousands of manufacturers in various industries all over the world. What unifies them is their need for a superb quality assurance process, of which a leak detection protocol is a key feature.
“Everything leaks, even if it’s gas molecules that permeate the metal or plastic in which they’re stored. When a leak exceeds the specified tolerance standard, it can mean environmental contamination, loss of sterility or component failure,” ATEQ writes on LinkedIn.
Founder Jacques Mouchet was inspired to start the business in 1975 because he had a vision to replace traditional production line leak detection methods with testers that were computerized, automated, and compliant with international standards. This was ATEQ’s original leak and flow tester division.
Today, the global leader in measurement solutions has 26 wholly owned subsidiaries, and has sold hundreds of thousands of instruments across three divisions: the leak/flow tester division, the aviation division, and the TPMS (tire-pressure monitoring system) division. Its instruments are used in a variety of applications, including medical devices, industrial equipment, automotive, and packaging.
ATEQ operates under the three core values of passion, perseverance, and innovation, as well as its global mission statement: “To be a passionate global leader of innovative measurement solutions by providing premium testing equipment and unsurpassed services to valued customers and partners.”
“ATEQ is different from many of our competitors because not only are our instruments more precise, we have locations in 42 countries all over the world to keep our sales and service processes efficient,” Heidi Franklin, Marketing Coordinator, tells us.
“Many manufacturing companies operate globally with engineers in one country, manufacturing plants in another and decision makers in another – by ATEQ having so many locations worldwide, this gives customers a comforting global network of ATEQ contacts who can speak their native language and address issues locally to fit their needs from start to finish.”
ATEQ also has five corporate pillars, which govern the ways that the company does business. The first is its passion for excellence; ATEQ strives to offer excellent products and services to customers worldwide. The second is being a leader in innovative technology, continually advancing its processes to keep up with an evolving industry. The third pillar is perseverance by education, providing ongoing education to its employees and stakeholders. Fourth, unification though diversity: uniting subsidiaries around the world toward a global mission. Its final pillar is safety with integrity: ATEQ exhibits honesty when creating purposeful tools that keep people safe.
Over the last few years, ATEQ’s business has grown significantly. The $150 million-dollar manufacturer, which serves thousands of customers like BMW, Sony, L’Oreal, General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Aptar, Bosch and Valeo, has branched out both in terms of its client reach as well as its physical locations.
“ATEQ has been fortunate to earn several large contracts with industry-leading consumer electronics manufacturers in the last few years, which has required us to hire more employees dedicated to producing and servicing custom instruments for these customers. These large contracts have also given ATEQ the financial resources to expand by opening new subsidiaries in other countries. In 2017, ATEQ USA opened a new office in Santa Clara, California and in early 2018, we opened an office in Chattanooga, Tennessee. ATEQ also recently opened a new subsidiary in Austria,” Franklin reveals.
As the world’s number-one supplier of automatic leak testing machines and leak test systems for assembly lines or laboratories, ATEQ offers several solutions for manufacturers. Its new Hydra leak tester, created for the research and development market, is one such example.
“The Hydra, a four-channel pressure decay leak tester, is a user-friendly instrument designed for R&D, semi-automated and fully automated lines to automatically detect leaks. It allows simultaneous or sequential pressure decay leak testing on four completely independent channels, allowing you to remove one channel for service or calibration and continue to leak test with the remaining channels,” Franklin explains.
In fact, a recent medical customer of ATEQ’s upgraded from its Premier tester to the Hydra tester so they could test four drip chamber systems at once.
In other exciting news, last year ATEQ set the record for the fastest repeatable test cycle time using one of its leak testing instruments. Its new 6 Series F620 Primus instrument practically cut the component’s test time in half for one of its long-time customers, deep drawn metal stamper, Trans-Matic. “This is the fastest repeatable application cycle time I’ve ever heard of from any brand of leak tester,” Carl Hardt, ATEQ Application Engineer, stated in a press release. “Trans-Matic was extremely impressed that ATEQ’s new Primus tested half a million of their parts in one week.”
ATEQ has also released a product for the consumer electronics market, the popular new F28. “It is a small, cost-effective tester that customers typically buy in large quantities for high speed automated testing throughout their production line for small electronics like fitness bands or smart phones. The F28 product line includes the advanced F28+ or the simpler, less costly F28 Light,” says Franklin.
ATEQ’s business is booming, and the record-breaking company is continuing to hold the attention of the manufacturing industry through its participation in tradeshows. For the first time, ATEQ has expanded its reach beyond medical and automotive, and participated in the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“When ATEQ exhibited for the first time this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, it was a bit of an experiment for us. Typically we exhibit at manufacturing and quality testing shows and many of our customers are in the automotive and medical industries,” shares Franklin.
“However, since our new key customers are actually consumer electronics manufacturers, we knew we needed to get more familiar with the industry and see what other potential customers we could find.”
For instance, Franklin tells us that one of the hottest trends in the electronics industry is waterproof products. To be classified as waterproof, each opening on a device must be thoroughly leak tested to ensure that it meets the desired IP (Ingress Protection) Certification standards. For example, if a smartphone achieves an IP67 waterproof rating, that means the device is fully protected against dust getting into the phone and can withstand being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes in one-meter depth.
ATEQ’s leak testers use pressure decay air leak testing to measure pressure drops, which determine the air leak rates within the device. There is a certain relative air-to-water correlation ratio that can be used to essentially say, “if only a miniscule ‘x’ amount of air can leak in or out of the device, then the device is waterproof,” since air molecules are much smaller than water molecules.
“CES proved to be a successful show to us because it was evident that there is a large growing global demand for companies, like ATEQ, that can provide waterproofing consulting and testing equipment to electronics manufacturers,” says Franklin.
But growing a business quickly is also not without its challenges. ATEQ has a number of business-related goals on the horizon. One of ATEQ’s goals last year was to build its social media presence – particularly important in the tech-savvy sectors in which ATEQ operates – and it has successfully accomplished this while continuing to this day to build its social following. Now, ATEQ is focusing its attention toward operational efficiency.
“With the new addition of a North American CEO in the end of 2017, Davy Leboucher, ATEQ has been putting into effect many new processes and programs to standardize and more efficiently track and analyze the sales funnel, inventory, customer management, and scheduling of the company,” Franklin informs us.
Franklin also mentions that ATEQ’s second goal is focused on taking its corporate training to the next level—for both customers and staff: “ATEQ is preparing an extensive Leak Testing Training Academy Program for our customers and new employees. We also will be building a new training room at our USA headquarters in Livonia.”
In terms of marketing, ATEQ plans to widen its digital library of videos, press releases, infographics and white papers in order to improve SEO and keep current and potential customers up to date on the latest industry news, tech tips, troubleshooting methods and case studies. This may involve partnering with a marketing services provider to experiment with creative new methods of reaching clients, as non-disclosure agreements make it difficult even for a well-known firm like ATEQ to ‘brag’ about its achievements.
In addition to these growth plans, ATEQ must also attract and retain high quality candidates to meet and exceed the high standard it has set in the industry. While Franklin states that most positions ATEQ is currently looking to fill are for sales or service engineers so a bachelor’s degree (preferably in engineering) is necessary, ATEQ does leak testing-specific training, so an in-depth knowledge of the niche is not required. However, what is essential is that candidates are detail-oriented, can think analytically, and can problem solve.
“As ATEQ continues to grow it has become essential for us to seek out qualified candidates. Since it seems that the growing demand for engineers currently exceeds the dwindling supply of new engineers, engineers often have their pick of jobs. On the employer’s end, we have to not only entice them to consider ATEQ, we also have to persuade them to learn a niche topic that they likely have little experience in – leak testing,” Franklin states.
A desire to learn, grow, and develop prevails in a company whose mission is to do just that for its customers. ATEQ works to cultivate a positive work environment where the team is encouraged to think analytically while providing industry-leading solutions to customers around the world.
“ATEQ engineers are not necessarily coding robots or designing bridges; they are using the physics of pressure to determine custom solutions for specific applications – how to properly program our instruments and how to incorporate them into the manufacturer’s testing process,” Franklin explains.
If your business requires the market credibility and peace of mind that come with having leak testing streamlined into its production process or QA facilities, contact one of ATEQ’s sales engineers at 734-838-3100, or visit www.atequsa.com.