The automotive future is electric – that’s a matter of fact. On the road to decarbonisation, electric vehicles (EVs)
will play a transformational role
For the UK to reach its net zero target, all vehicles must be fossil fuel-free by 2050 to support the shift to EVs, and technology is rapidly evolving to accelerate this transition.
Based at Surrey Research Park in Guildford, ipTEST develops unique electrical testing equipment which is widely used in the manufacture of electric vehicles to ensure they operate reliably and safely. A testament to its breakthrough innovations, the company has recently been honoured with the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise, in the Innovation category, recognising DS5, a cutting-edge product which performs advanced tests at exceptionally high speeds.
At the heart of every electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle is a collection of small yet mighty high-power electronic chips which supply power from the vehicle’s battery to the motors, and return it to the battery during braking. These chips need to operate reliably 100% of the time, and therefore, must undergo advanced testing. With DS5, ipTEST applies high voltages and electrical currents which far exceed what the chips will ever experience during normal driving to have the resilience to comfortably stand up to everyday use.
The DS5 product was developed three years ago to address the needs of this specific market – high-speed electronics used in electric vehicles – and its success has resulted in ipTEST growing very fast, very quickly.
“DS5 was in the right place at the right time when EVs were really starting to take off,” explains Dr Conor McCarthy, managing director at ipTEST. “As a company, we were perfectly placed to supply our customers with these testers so they could supply the electronics that go into electric vehicles. DS5 has been tremendously well received and I’m so proud it has been recognised with the King’s Award. This has been a true team effort by everyone at the company.”
ipTEST has been manufacturing high-quality testers for the best part of 30 years. In 2021, the business relocated to Surrey Research Park to facilitate its expansion. “I think moving to Surrey Research Park at the time we did was very important,” says Conor. “We outgrew our previous facility and when we moved into our current units, we thought we’d have all the space we would ever need. However, we immediately filled up both floors of the building, within as little as a year. Having Surrey Research Park offices and overflow space has been incredibly helpful, and we’ve been able to use temporary leases and temporary space at the Park to further expand our manufacturing.”
The team finds having access to off-site meeting rooms highly beneficial, especially when they need to get away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life in a manufacturing environment. Conor adds, “Overall, Surrey Research Park is a really nice place to work; it’s somewhere our employees feel happy. We love the site and the location, which offers amazing views of the lake from just outside the office window.”
April was a busy month for ipTEST. The company has taken on a lease of a second building, which it started to move into just a week after receiving the news of the King’s Award. This spacious ground-floor facility, located next door to its current home on Priestly Road, will enable ipTEST to completely expand its manufacturing to keep up with demand. “The fact that the King’s Award was awarded to us the week before we moved into a new facility is great timing. We’ve been celebrating with pizza on two consecutive Fridays We always have a pizza whenever there’s anything to celebrate – big or small.”
Now, the team eagerly await their invitation to a Royal reception, where they will be presented with their award
by one of the King’s representatives, a Lord-Lieutenant. The framed official certificate and commemorative crystal trophy will take pride of place at the ipTEST HQ, of course.
The innovation will continue. DS5 is the start of a journey, and ipTEST will be developing ever-faster versions of the product. As well as making electric vehicles safer, the company’s testers also check the electronics used in many other products where electrical power needs to be controlled, ranging from mobile phone chargers to wind turbines and high-speed electric trains. “Here at ipTEST, we’re proud that the technologies and products we develop are all helping with the net zero efforts,” says Conor. “We’re proud to be contributing to a greener, safer world.”