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December 06, 2021 | Tom Ballard

GTL helping manufacturers “show they did everything they can do to make the product safe”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

One might say that Ron Monday grew-up in the electronics sector, having spent more than a half-century being involved in the electrical and electronic manufacturing industry.

Starting out as Senior Test Engineer for Collins Radio that later became Rockwell Collins, he moved to Computer Concepts as Vice President before becoming Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Control Technology Inc. After nine years in that role, Monday founded Online Development Inc., OLDI for short, a company that designed and manufactured factory automation products which he led for 28 years before selling it.

Along the way, he says that he tried on a couple of occasions to buy the former testing division of Philips Consumer Electronics North America before finally succeeding in 2014. Long-time residents of the region will recall that the corporate headquarters for the division of the Dutch-based manufacturer of televisions was located for years in what is now the Strawberry Plains campus of Pellissippi State Community College. Philips moved the headquarters to the Atlanta area in 1996 and totally exited Knoxville and the building in 2004.

Today, Monday is the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Global Testing Laboratories (GTL) that he says is “now my only job.” Located in the same building as Philips Testing Service and just a few miles from the former Philips Consumer Electronics headquarters, GTL’s facility on East Governor John Sevier Highway houses a very diverse set of equipment and rooms that can perform testing for clients, not only in electronics but also environmental and transportation.

We recently were invited to tour GTL’s 24,000 square foot facility with Monday and Jonathan Clemons, Vice President and General Manager, who joined GTL about a year ago. To say the least, it was an eye opening experience for a person not experienced in the electronics industry.

“We’re in the midst of calibration,” Monday said in explaining the reason there was little activity in the building the day we were there. Calibration is a periodic process that must be undertaken to ensure that all of the testing equipment is fine-tuned to meet the standards of organizations like Underwriters Laboratories.

Have a testing need? We quickly learned that it is likely that GTL not only has the expertise you require, but is also accredited to meet your needs as highlighted on its main website that lists certifications in three areas – electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing, environmental, and transportation. And, those accreditations come from very reliable organizations such as the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

GTL states on its website that the company is “committed to providing sustaining support and superior customer service to ensure your products are tested efficiently and effectively, saving you time and allowing you to get your products to market faster.”

To help us best understand the important service that GTL performs for its clients, the plain spoken but engaging Monday asked us a provocative question: “Who designs products in this world?” His answer was lawyers.

“Manufacturers have to show they did everything they can do to make the product safe,” Monday says, and that’s where GTL’s testing expertise is so valuable. “We determine what parts are critical for safety,” Clemons adds. “The warnings come from our safety testing based on NIST standards.”

As we toured the facility, we saw a diverse set of capabilities like these:

  • Shock and vibration testing, most recently used for an item that went to the International Space Station;
  • A rain and dust chamber to test electronic devices;
  • A salt fog cyclic corrosion capability that can simulate two years of the impact of ocean environments on equipment in just a week of testing;
  • An altitude chamber to test storm doors and windows; and
  • An Open Air Test Site that simulates the effects of outside elements.

While GTL is proud of its facility and does most of the testing in East Knoxville, Clemons says the team can go to a customer’s site if required. There’s also an important community contribution.

Several years ago, GTL joined with U.S. Department of Energy’s prime contractors in Oak Ridge, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and others to support a project developed by students at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge. Named RamSat, the project involved delivery of a cubesat to the International Space Station to enable observations from space of forests regrowing after the devastating wildfires in the Gatlinburg area (GTL_RamSat One Pager).

Looking to the future, Monday says, “We saw a business slowdown during COVID,  but it’s now coming back.”

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