NORTHBROOK, Ill., March 15, 2010 – Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a world-leading independent third-party safety testing and certification provider, has entered into a strategic alliance with Atlas Material Testing Technology, a global leader in accelerated weathering instruments and weathering testing services.  This alliance benefits both companies with increased global testing capacity and expertise in accelerated aging performance and enables them to provide faster testing and certification turnaround-time for manufacturers specializing in solar energy products.


Collaboration between the two companies has already led to shorter cycle times for some of the customers seeking the UL listing for solar modules and power systems accessory equipment. Not only are outdoor and aging tests for long-term durability a critical component for meeting safety and performance standards, but they also provide manufacturers with the data they need to demonstrate long-term durability to support warranty and performance claims. These tests reduce the costs associated with aftermarket product failures.  


“Atlas is highly regarded within the industry for accelerated aging test instruments and associated outdoor and laboratory testing services and we are happy to collaborate with them,” said Jeff Smidt, Vice President and General Manager of UL’s Global Energy Business.  “One of the great benefits that are available through this alliance is the geographical diversity of existing and new testing sites that allows us to minimize project delays that otherwise might occur due to natural weather conditions,” Smidt added.  Atlas has 21 outdoor weathering sites globally including the Atlas Solar Test Center and exposure facility in Arizona, a benchmark for outdoor exposure testing possessing high levels of solar radiation and elevated temperatures.


For manufacturers around the world, global market access is a vital success factor; and it is an invaluable service offering that is available through this collaboration.   For example, for manufacturers of photovoltaic modules in Asia, both North American and international standards must be met (UL 1703 and IEC 61730 respectively), in order to support solar equipment installations in the US and European markets.   This alliance allows both companies to significantly increase their global footprint required to support customers globally through localized test sites and highly skilled engineering talent that speaks local languages.  This translates into increasing efficiencies and accelerating turnaround-time for existing and future projects.


Rick Weiler, CEO of Atlas Material Testing Technology stated, “We are excited to partner with a well-respected worldwide standards organization and together we will help to meet the global needs of the solar industry. Our combined resources generate the synergies to provide much needed laboratory and outdoor testing capacity for solar panels and equipment.”


UL is committed to serving its customers in the photovoltaic industry. Recently, the company has invested heavily in additional capacity for the testing and certification of solar energy equipment through the expansion of its existing and new facilities and partnerships. UL currently operates Photovoltaic Centers of Excellence in San Jose, Calif. and Suzhou, China and will open two new state-of-the-art testing facilities this year: one in Germany and one in Japan. The alliance with Atlas is one more step in the process of serving the global photovoltaic industry as efficiently as possible.