The Lab at FOLAN

“We are here to torture the product, to put it in the most delicate conditions in order to see how it reacts”: Saïd Benamara, test and trial lab engineer at FOLAN, tells us about the challenges and missions of the lab department.

Why a lab department at FOLAN?

An internal department at FOLAN, the Lab has several objectives: to carry out a certain number of validation tests on products and raw materials, to validate process changes and to guarantee the quality of products. We are in a logic of continuous improvement to develop new products, new procedures…

The laboratory is in contact with a number of functions within the company: design office, buyers, product managers, sales representatives.

What tests do you perform?

We are there to torture the product, to put it in the most delicate conditions to see how it reacts. We are able to perform a multitude of tests:

  • Firstly, environmental tests: the product is placed in conditions representative of the external conditions and the way in which it reacts is analysed. For example, we simulate hot days, cold days, temperature variations, humid heat, etc. in a standardised manner.
  • Mechanical tests are also carried out: either crushing or traction. If we take the example of the connector, we will test the traction of the cable in relation to the plug.
  • We also have optical tests: IL/RL measurement of the fibre, 3D interferometry measurement of a plug, concentricity measurement, dimensional testing. We can also apply cable and box tightness tests and impact or drop tests.
  • We also have two measuring benches: a high-capacity one (around 100 fibres) which is associated with the ovens and a low-capacity one, which is easier to move around and is intended for mechanical tests. These benches allow several fibres to be measured while the samples are being tested.

How does a test work in practice?

Let’s take the example of the salt spray test, which aims to observe how metal products react to the corrosion created by salt and the sea shore. First, the preparation: salt water is generated. Then, the test is launched by putting the products in the chamber that creates the salt spray thanks to a compressor that will help spray the water. The duration of the test depends on the customer’s requirements. Finally, the parts are collected and checked for rust with a magnifying glass or microscope. It should be noted that we take every precaution to ensure that no external element distorts the test.

What are the deliverables at the end of the tests?

Following the tests carried out, we analyse a number of data, which enable us to obtain curves with minimum and maximum values of variation. We will compare these values with the customer’s normative requirements and deliver a detailed report.