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CEO Ben Cecil says CCPV has worked closely with another London-based company - GDLS Canada

Quality standards continue to tighten in today’s competitive global defence landscape and this is creating new challenges for defence contractors, which are increasingly turning to independent testing facilities such as the Canadian Center for Product Validation to leverage opportunities.

“Defence end-users need to ensure that procurements meet specific pre-defined standards. We help them do that,” says Ben Cecil, the centre’s chief executive officer. “But we also help producers to design new and better products and to get them to market faster.”

The Canadian Centre for Product Validation’s 25,000 square-foot restricted access facility is located on the grounds of London’s Fanshawe College, one of the Ontario’s largest and fastest growing colleges. The unit supplies prototyping and testing services and development capabilities to a wide range of clients.

“We provide access to a multi-modal facility that offers comprehensive, integrated electrical, mechanical, environmental and performance testing,” says Cecil of the validation centre which draws 70% of its revenues from the defence sector. “In addition to standard pass/fail validation results, we also work to determine the root causes of test failures and to develop solutions that ensure future success.”

One of the Canadian Centre for Product Validation’s key priorities in the coming years will be to expand its defence sector presence. “Our goal is to redefine military supply chain innovation,” says Cecil. “Previously, considerable amounts of Department of National Defence testing was done outside the country. Now we have a domestic solution. This should speed development and production and keep more procurement funds in the country, thus facilitating further future mandates.”

A key part of those efforts include a quest to use the product validation function to bridge the gap between innovation and ultimate commercialization. Its location at Fanshawe College also enables CCPV to facilitate partnerships between industry and academia.

The Canadian Centre for Product Validation opened the $16.2 million ITARS/CGP-friendly site in 2016. It now employs a dozen or so professionals. The London, Ontario operation quickly attracted a range of regional backers, which have watched it grow and blossom. “CCPV is a state-of-the-art facility with a breadth of capabilities,” says Doug Wilson-Hodge, a spokesperson at General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a manufacturer of high-end light armored vehicles and a long-time CCPV partner. “These include the ability to conduct a range of testing – from assemblies
to vehicles.”

According to Cecil, effective quality verification can be a major productivity driver. “Businesses that take the extra step always win in the end,” says Cecil. “Returns are far costlier than many people realize. Not only do you have to fix existing deficiencies or replace the part and reship everything, the wasted management time can also slow other initiatives and hamper future relationships. Streamlining product development and testing, which according to Cecil can generally best be regarded as an iterative and collaborative process, is particularly important. Effective communications are also key.

For example, according to Cecil, a local military supply chain manufacturer recently brought in a motor for testing because the assembled product was making too much noise. The client had previously requested advice from various consultants and solutions providers. One recommended production line changes that would have cost millions of dollars. However, CCPV engineers, by listening carefully and asking the right questions, solved the problem in a day, by proposing a fix that cost a mere $80.

Speed is also crucial. To help achieve that, CCPV facilitates prototyping, and provides clients with secure stations on-site (including biometrically controlled access to six hoteling suites) to protect documents and test samples.

Another CCPV selling point is its technical team’s familiarity with MIL-STD-810 and 461, a United States military standard that prioritize testing based on the conditions products will endure throughout their service lives. It’s a particularly crucial demand for Canadian contractors, many of which have US parents, and who are part of tightly integrated supply chains.

All that said, CCPV’s Cecil is far from content to revel in the company’s initial success. In recent months, he has been working hard to build brand awareness and market share. He also plans to lead a further push into sectors for which the centre’s capabilities appear to be an ideal fit.

Aerospace, an industry in which CCPV already provides a range of electrical, environmental, thermal vibration, acoustic and other mechanical testing services, appears to be a particularly promising sector. The Canadian Centre for Product Validation is also currently building its unmanned aerial vehicles capabilities through work with Ottawa-based ING Robotic Aviation, on a new stealthy, endurance ulti-purpose platform. These initiatives are creating openings for new staff, making recruitment an additional ongoing priority.

In short, one of a country’s most crucial defence-related industrial capabilities, is the ability to act independently. That’s a particularly big challenge for Canada which is reliant on other countries for many of its needs. So, when a new Canadian defence player emerges, like the Canadian Centre for Product Validation, which can independently deliver a comprehensive domestic capability, it’s a big deal.

Whether Cecil and his team can build on the organization’s early promise is an open question but one thing is certain, many industry executives will be cheering him on.


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