Interview with P Sengupta, CEO, EMTAC Laboratories Pvt. Ltd.
Q. Please tell us a little about your organisation.
A. EMTAC has two Divisions – Physical Security Products (PSP) Division and Electrical & Electronics (E&E) Division .
EMTAC ‘s Physical Security Product ( PSP ) Division is a truly international class, dedicated laboratory for testing of PSPs like Bank Safes, ATMs, Strong Room Doors, Safe Deposit Locker Cabinets etc. Our Electrical & Electronics Division specialises in testing of a range of Electrical and IT products. Both Divisions are manned by qualified, experienced and trained personnel.
The Divisions are headed by very senior persons of appropriate qualification and experience .
Q. Testing of Physical Security Products is not a common field. What inspired you to come into this line?
A. During my association with the PSP industry, I realised that there was a crying need for a PSP testing laboratory, that would earn the respect and trust of the industry through its competence, integrity and service quality. The industry leaders also agreed to extend support, provided a truly international class laboratory was established.
That’s how EMTAC came in to being .
Q. To the best of our knowledge, PSP testing facilities have been available in India for quite some time. Your answer seems to indicate that these facilities did not enjoy trust of the industry. Is that true?
A. PSP testing involves a lot of human intervention. Without high skill levels and properly standardized test methods, there will always be a possibility of man- to- man, time –to –time variations. This leads to a trust deficit even when everything is alright. That’s exactly what happened in this case .
Q. Were there any controversies?
A. Disputes and differences of opinions are bound to happen in this kind of a situation .
Q. What kind of disputes?
A. It would not be fair to discuss specific incidents but I can comment on the reasons for such controversies. Firstly, certain gaps in the Indian Standard Specifications were allowed to continue for a long time. This led to different interpretations by different people. Secondly, the industry did not make any real effort to standardise the test procedures. Thirdly, the testing laboratories did not make efforts to demonstrate transparency. All these factors contributed to undesirable situations.
Q. Has EMTAC succeeded in overcoming these obstacles? How?
A. Yes, to a very large extent .(a) We are the first to truly standardize the procedures. We have validated our procedures by achieving an unheard of repeatability of 6 % maximum. This has been verified during the NABL audit (b) All our tests are videographed so that any doubt can be subsequently verified (c) We welcome the customer to be present during the testing (d) Customers who cannot be present, can watch it through live online transmission facility .
Q. What do you mean by repeatability ?
A. Consistency of results. Depending on the product and the uniformity of the sample, if we test it at different times, the results will not vary beyond this limit. This is very difficult to achieve in human intervention testing because of factors which are difficult to control. We have achieved this because of our standardized procedures and the high skill levels of our testing personnel. This is why our test results are reliable.
Q. Will you be able to demonstrate this repeatability ?
A. Of course. We have already demonstrated it during the audits. Repeatability of our results have been actually verified during the BIS and NABL audits .
Q. What about the gaps in the Standards you mentioned?
A. Yes, much of it has been rectified now. For this the credit goes to the BIS Committee and particularly to its Chairman, Mr. S M Venkatachalam of Reserve Bank Of India. He took a lot of personal interest and ensured that it was done in the shortest time.
Q. You mean the Indian Standards are now perfect?
A. No. There is still scope for lot of improvement but they are much better now. Having said that, I must add that both manufacturers and customers must appreciate the full impact of the changes to derive benefits from them .
Q. Has EMTAC been recognised by National Board for Accreditation of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)?
A. Yes. EMTAC is the first laboratory in India to be accfredited by NABL for testing of Physical Security Products. NABL has also accredited EMTAC for testing of ATMs according to European Standards(EN ) .
Q. What about recognition by Bureau of Indian Standards?
A. We have been recognised by BIS for all the products for which we have been accredited by NABL and for which an Indian Standard exists .
Q. What about your facilities and personnel?
A. Our facilities are top class ,we use only the best tools and equipment . All our personnel have received training from European experts.
We are now planning to have some more advanced training in Burglary Resistance test .
Top officials from European Certification Body for Security (ECBS) have visited us to witness our testing and expressed their satisfaction at our equipment and operator skills. Our strongest point is that our people are qualified, trained and permanent employees .
Q. Why do you empasize on permanent employees?
A. The most important tests in PSP testing are human intervention tests. Quality of these tests is influenced by the skill of the operators and the leader of the testing team. These skills develop over a period of time through experience and continuous training and practice .
It is not possible to expect reliable test results when the members of the testing team are not adequately skilled and experienced. Team work is very important in this. For example,
it is very important for the Team Leader to know which operator is more skilled in the use of a particular tool so that his skill can be utilised accordingly. This cannot be achieved when casual operators are involved. That is why, as a policy, we involve only permanent personnel in testing. To improve their skill, our operators practise for at least two hours every day even when there is no commercial sample to test .
Q. How has the industry responded to your venture?
A. Very positively. We have received unstinted technical support from big manufacturers like Godrej and Gunnebo. Other manufacturers have also responded positively whenever we sought some technical advice or help. One person I must mention is Mr Anthony Tuscano of Guardwel Industries, a very respected member of the industry ,who was very enthusiastic about our project and personally gave me some invaluable advice. Unfortunately he passed away before we had started our operations .
Q. This industry is largely concentrated in Western India. Is it not a disadvantage that you are located in the South?
A. We are located in Hyderabad. If we take Mumbai as the reference, we are not all that far away. Besides, Hyderabad’s location is more Central than South and there are industries in Bhopal, Kolhapur and Chennai . It is very well connected by road and rail to all parts of the country. Anyway, we have discussed this point with the industry and they do not consider the distance to be an issue. It is more important to ensure quality of testing and produce reliable results .
Q. What are your future plans?
A . Firstly, we are almost ready with the Fire Testing facilities. Secondly, we expect some piority shifts in the PSP industry and are already working towards it. Thirdly, we wish to get international recognition for our PSP Division and establish it as a premier laboratory for Security Product testing where every facility will be available under one roof. We have constituted a Technical Advisory Board constituting of prominent persons from within and outside the industry and will implement our plans with their guidance .