Achieve More Consistent Results: The Benefits of an Onsite Environmental Testing Chamber

May 8, 2023 - Author: Greg Larson - Equipment Project Manager

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The benefits of an onsite environmental testing chamber

An Onsite Environmental Testing Chamber may be Right for Your Company

Many companies farm out their environmental testing to third parties. Some try to do it themselves by taking their testing outdoors. Both options come with serious drawbacks, which may be why more companies are looking at the idea of building their environmental chambers in their own R&D facilities.

Having your own environmental chamber for product testing is a game-changer compared to outdoor or third-party testing. You have more control over the environmental conditions and testing process, and you can get to market faster.

With full control over the design and development process, you create the exact environment your test goals and specifications require. Third-party environmental chambers may not meet them all. Even if they address all your business goals, they might not be able to run tests under parameters that qualify for a certification. Results from tests conducted outdoors certainly won’t qualify for any external certifications.

Testing in a customized environmental chamber provides consistency. You control the conditions, ensuring they meet regulatory requirements and performance expectations. The payoff comes with improved reliability and utility of the test data, which is crucial for regulatory compliance and confidence that internal goals are met.

Having this degree of control over your environmental testing chamber is also critical to getting the product to market faster. Reliability and quality are key to product development, which you achieve with a purpose-built environmental chamber. Having a climatic chamber onsite also improves throughput. No waiting for time with the third-party facility or leaving production schedules to the mercy of a weather change. More efficient environmental testing equipment helps find and resolve design flaws faster and at lower cost.

A customized environmental chamber puts your company in control of the test conditions, process, and schedule. OEMs that have the in-house capability to conduct environmental tests put themselves in a powerful position to attract clients that want that reliability and expertise.

As Always, an Effective Environmental Chamber Starts with Good Planning

Asking the right upfront questions is the starting point for any test facility design project. When planning a climatic chamber, your three big questions are:

What type of application or test articles will you be testing in the environmental chamber? We need to set out all the test article’s relevant details, like its dimensions or how it rejects heat. What type of fuel will be used? The type of fuel will dictate the gas detection requirements in the space. Will that fuel be in a tank on the test article or will it need to be piped in from a separate supply source?

What is the exact test process and environmental conditions that need to be replicated? How will the unit be tested? How will the test article get loaded into the chamber? What power ranges will be tested? What are the test durations? How will you measure uniformity of conditions within the chamber? Understanding the validation requirements upfront will help you design the chamber with the precise instrumentation, data acquisition, and documentation systems needed.

What tolerance level is required? How tightly do you need to maintain temperature requirements? What’s the method to verify compliance? This is especially important for meeting external certification standards. For example, if you plan to use the chamber for testing products for automotive or aerospace applications, you might need to comply with specific certification requirements. Understanding the external certification requirements along with the validation criteria upfront will help you design the chamber to meet the required standards and avoid costly retrofits or delays in testing.

Environmental Chambers are an Investment with a High Up-side

There are upfront capital costs and ongoing maintenance costs to having a customized, onsite environmental chamber. No question about that. Yet, having environmental chambers built to your specifications and under your control can provide significant long-term financial benefits through greater reliability and more efficient product development. You can learn more about climatic chambers here and get answers to a few common questions about budgeting and cost considerations of environmental chambers here.