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Interview

Turkey’s Transparent and Neutral Testing Solution Partner Equipped to Meet the Needs of Global Clients

TRtest Company- Bilal AKTAŞ General Manager discusses TRtest’s new test center, strategy and its solution partners. The company will provide consultancy services, as well as a reliable, accessible and affordable test center. TRtest aims to test the ballistic products to be exported abroad on behalf of the customer country

Defence Turkey: What can you say about the organizational structure, vision, and goals of TRtest which was founded with the aim of establishing, operating, maintaining, and providing training services for conformity assessment infrastructures such as testing, inspection, analysis, demonstration, supervision, certification, calibration, and qualification?

Bilal AKTAŞ: TR Test ve Değerlendirme AŞ, started its activities on November 1, 2018, at the Technopark Ankara campus of İvedik Organized Industrial Zone.  It was officially established in December 2017 with the partnership of the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), Turkish Standards Institution (TSE), The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (TSKGV), and Defence Technologies Center Corp. (STM) in order to coordinate the existing test and evaluation infrastructure and capabilities  together with customers by tracking inventories, to contribute to the accomplishment of the testing of critical systems and platforms mainly in the defence industry with domestic and national resources, and to operate test and evaluation infrastructures to be established in our country in a more efficient way. With this in mind, TRtest aims to involve in all the activities in the triangle of products to be tested, test equipment, and technical test personnel. In other words, TRtest will continue its activities by contributing to the design phase of the product to be tested in order to determine the criteria to verify the requirements that will affect the expected performance of the product, specify the technical characteristics for the localization of the equipment to test the product, and to train the technical personnel who will perform the tests. 

In short, TRtest set out with the vision of becoming a company that meets the testing needs of national industry within the country and with the aim of being an independent and reliable testing authority with indigenously manufactured equipment for testing high-technology and value-added products.

Defence Turkey: We know that you focused on inventory studies related to the sector in order to better analyze the sector during your time as Head of the Industrialization Department. In this context, have you conducted a classification and inventory study on testing capabilities and test centers within the public, private sector, and universities since taking your new assignment? What is your assessment of the sector regarding the existing testing capabilities?

Bilal AKTAŞ: Yes, between the years 2012-2018, I placed great importance on the effort to create a domestic industry inventory through the industrialization portal and I tried to guide these companies into the defence sector by witnessing the talent of numerous companies on the site. In the same period, together with our production capability inventory study, a test infrastructure inventory study was also conducted for the defence industry under the coordination of the SSB Quality Control-Test and Certification Department.

We are currently carrying out a study to determine the externally-dependent testing capabilities and the existing test infrastructures in the country. Our study will determine the domestic test infrastructures and it is not limited to the testing capabilities of the public sector. We initiated our study at TRtest with reference to the work we conducted with the SSB. First of all, we are in contact with the SSB to update this study. Furthermore, we also identified more than 1,000 test laboratories accredited by TÜRKAK. With the launching of TRtest, test-oriented companies in the private sector have begun to contact us, and we are bringing their talents into our inventory. We now have quite a large portfolio with the defence industry testing inventory, TÜRKAK inventory, testing inventory of the Ministry of Industry and Technology on labs.gov.tr website, including the non-accredited inventories of companies with production-oriented testing capabilities. In the coming days, we will expand and classify this inventory in order to quickly and effectively match the companies need test with test centers. Test capabilities of universities will also be attached into the our portfolio until the end of this year.

Summarizing the testing capabilities of the sector, except for some platform level tests, we can say that several tests concerning the subsystems can be conducted in the country, however, the links in the test chain which the product should be subjected to have a scattered structure. TRtest, with the National Test Infrastructure Inventory Portal, will enable all the links in the chain to operate in a coordinated manner.  

Most importantly, in addition to the test laboratories and centers accredited by TÜRKAK, we are also trying to determine the non-accredited test infrastructures used by our industrialists during their production process. We will integrate our inventory study with the existing test infrastructures at our universities, and I believe that ninety percent of the tests required by the domestic industry can be met in our country.

Defence Turkey: In which areas will TRtest operate? What are your priorities?

Bilal AKTAŞ: One of the main reasons for the establishment of TRtest is that our industry shifted from just manufacturing products to designing them and this led to the creation of data outputs which can be considered private. Therefore, TRtest will play an impartial and a reliable role in managing publicly established test centers primarily and maintaining the data produced in these centers for better designs. For this purpose, as priority test centers, we are working on issues related to the establishment and operation of centers where ballistic products and rocket-missile systems can be tested.

Undoubtedly, TRtest is not merely a defence sector-oriented company. It is also within the mission of TRtest to provide solutions for the testing requirements of the local industry, generally, the civil aviation and transportation sector when it is not possible to meet in the country. Since automotive industry has very crucial role in our industrial sector, Land Vehicle Test Center to be established in Bursa is also in our interest. We have recently finished the feasibility of the Center and we aim to initiate the first phase of the Center within this year. The first way may be started with crash or break runways.

Among our priorities are the efficient use of existing test infrastructures through the portal that we will develop, preventing duplicate test investments, and to manage publicly established new test centers.

Defence Turkey: From your vision, we see that you are aiming to serve as a bridge that builds trust between companies and existing test centers in order to meet the needs of the sector rather than being an investor. Can you explain this in more detail?

Bilal AKTAŞ: Since our domestic industry started to provide products in terms of subsystems for national projects such as ALTAY, ATAK, ANKA, MILGEM, and HISAR after transitioning into designing products from simply manufacturing them, this led to the need of accessing reliable test centers where the companies producing the subsystems would entrust design information of their product. Sometimes, companies are faced with situations where they need to use the testing capabilities of their competitors. Likewise, manufacturing companies with testing capabilities have to test their products in their facilities with their personnel. With its corporate structure and work ethic, TRtest ensures an environment of trust that makes it possible for manufacturers to test their products with a competing company under TRtest personnel responsibility.

Defence Turkey: Do you have any infrastructural studies and marketing activities to present the existing test centers as competitive centers to be preferred by foreign companies in addition to Turkish companies? What is your vision about this?

Bilal AKTAŞ: The capability to carry out tests does not only concern the necessary equipment but also our trained human inventory. Our study on domestic test infrastructure inventory began to mature. Marketing these capabilities abroad is also a part of our vision. In this context, we have contacted certain foreign companies. We discuss joint investments in testing capabilities which Turkey needs as well as marketing of domestic testing capabilities with them. We have test equipment capacity and trained human resources to conduct tests especially in the fields of ballistic protection, textile, and chemical analysis in our country. Regarding the test sites, we have test sites that most countries do not have, and I believe that this potential can be marketed abroad.

Defence Turkey: TRtest and test companies sign agreements for the use of test infrastructures. With these agreements, the test companies offer their test infrastructures to the sector under the coordination of TRtest. Can you inform us about the scope and objectives of these agreements? What tests can be carried out under the coordination of TRtest?

Bilal AKTAŞ: We aim to provide the laboratory inventory in Turkey to customers in a fast and reliable way. Environmental tests, fungus test, Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) tests and ballistic tests can be carried out under TRtest coordination.

As TRtest we have signed contracts with Nurol Technologies Inc. and Garanti Apparel Composites Technology Industry and Trade Co. Inc. for ballistic tests, Nanobiz Technology Inc. for fungal/antibacterial tests, and Standart Control and Test Services Co. Ltd. and GTL (Global Technology Laboratory) for environmental tests. The aim of these solution partnership agreements is to provide assistance to the companies responsible for developing products regarding the tests they need to conduct on their products and procedures required by the relevant tests.

Since we believe that private companies test capabilities are our national assets, TRtest will continue to expand strategical cooperation agreements with the private companies. With TRtest and its solution partners, the sector will attain the right consultancy service, as well as a reliable, accessible and affordable test center.

Defence Turkey: There is a small number of Turkish companies involved in the production of test equipment. What are your efforts to increase production, competition, and localization in this regard?

Bilal AKTAŞ: While the share of imported test equipment usage in the market is predominant, the fluctuations in foreign exchange hamper the purchase and production of the equipment. Increasing domestic production gains importance at this point. As TRtest, with the collection of test infrastructure inventory and test manufacturers inventory, we are starting to see more clearly what kind of insufficiencies or duplicities we have on the subject of testing.

In order to support the production and use of domestic test equipment, we would like to make recommendations by consulting with the capable companies. Moreover, to support the production of domestic test equipment; there are plans to establish “Test Centers” for the areas that need testing activities and to equip these centers with domestically produced equipment.

We are aware of the importance of using the domestic test infrastructures in an optimized way with the domestic test equipment. In this context, we also visit domestic test equipment manufacturers and note their capabilities. Our inventory studies will continue including the test equipment manufacturers.

Defence Turkey: How do you evaluate the sector in the field of ballistic testing capabilities and centers? It has a significant position in the domestic private sector in this field. In this context, do you have any studies on meeting the domestic and international test requests?

Bilal AKTAŞ: At this stage, for starters, we signed a contract with Nurol Technologies Inc. and Garanti Apparel Composites Technology Industry and Trade Co. Inc. which have TÜRKAK accreditation. According to the contract, the companies in question enable TRtest to manage their ballistic test infrastructures to TRtest within the scope of defence industry projects. We began to carry out tests with our own trained personnel in these facilities. Companies with ballistic test infrastructure provide us with the necessary logistic support and tests are conducted under the supervision of TRtest. We have eliminated dependence on foreign countries in the testing of ballistic vests and helmets. This case was recorded as the first success of TRtest. We are equipped to meet the requests from abroad with a transparent and neutral test service. In particular, as TRtest, we aim to test the ballistic products to be exported abroad on behalf of the customer country.

Defence Turkey: What is your opinion on the Test Ship issue for testing marine subsystems, sonars, and radars? Is there a new project on this in the coming period?

Bilal AKTAŞ: This issue you mentioned is on our agenda. We are conducting various discussions with those concerned about how to achieve optimum benefit. The research and studies on this issue are still ongoing. What is important here is to find an answer to the question “whether we need a new test vessel as TRtest or to lease a convenient ship from the inventory?”. Our feasibility studies on which is affordable, and maintainability are still ongoing. I believe that we can reach a consensus on common ground with the parties regarding the testing issues within this year.

Defence Turkey: Do you have long-term investment plans?

Bilal AKTAŞ: The establishment and management of the test sites where rocket and missile systems will be tested, the construction of the Land Vehicle Test Center is planned to be established in Bursa, and the establishment and management of the wind tunnel test center are included in our plans. Keeping the existing test infrastructures accessible and productive, and implementing business models, that the private sector will contribute to as much as possible, are also among our priorities.

Defence Turkey: Finally, is there a message you want to give to our readers?

Bilal AKTAŞ: Our domestic test infrastructure inventory study began to serve the defence industry sector, especially the companies located in Ankara Organized Industrial Zones. Through your magazine, I would like to inform the companies, which could not find a test center to conduct the tests they need, that we can help them to fulfill their test requirements within the country if they submit their test requests via the request form at www.tr-test.com.tr and also I would like to thank you for sparing your time to talk with me about our company, TRtest.