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Article

June 23 , 2006

New ETI Outdoor Test Facility

Last winter we built a temporary test facility at our new location to replace the one we left behind. Even though the new facility worked exceptionally well, we decided to add capabilities and to make it permanent.

Our new location is approximately 1,000 feet west of the south-east corner of the South Bend Regional Airport. Thus, the test facility is exposed to the same environmental conditions as the NOAA weather station at the airport. Weather observations were available hourly, or more frequently, depending upon conditions. A dedicated PC was used to log and time stamp both the observed weather conditions and the response of the equipment undergoing test.

Even though we got a late start making the test facility operational during an exceptionally mild winter, much useful data was obtained. This summer, we are making the test facility even more useful by adding a 12' by 14' building to house equipment, a protective fence, a roof and gutter mock-up and deiced pavement sections using both self limiting and constant wattage heaters.

Evaluating and optimizing product performance is just one of the important uses for the new test facility and the data that it will produce. The weather and other data can be used to evaluate new products in breadboard form before beginning the packaging design and safety testing. This reduces both the time-to-market and development costs.

The test facility will always be a work in process. Future changes in freeze protection system performance requirements and technological ensure this. The ability to reliably measure the performance of our products under real operating conditions is essential to maintaining our technological leadership.