SNV Story No. 6: A passion for perfection and safety

Expert profile of Philipp Lüdi

Swiss SMEs continue to bring outstanding and unique services to the international market time and time again. And the true pearl and hidden champion that is the Biel-based company DT Swiss is no different. DT Swiss is the global market leader in the field of road and mountain bike wheels; it employs around 600 employees worldwide who manufacture and market high-quality bicycle components. We paid a visit to the in-house DT Swiss test lab to shadow lab director Philipp Lüdi.

Image caption: Philipp Lüdi, Manager Prototyping/Testing at DT Swiss and standards expert of SNV since 2016

Lab fascination: the interface between man and machine
Philipp Lüdi works together with his team and development engineers to ensure that the Swiss company markets bike products which are world-leading thanks to their outstanding quality and performance. In his role as lab director, he is also responsible for the expertise he brings to the international working group for tyres/trims (ISO/TC 31/SC 10) on behalf of the SNV.

When Philipp Lüdi visited a medical technology company as part of his training at the engineering school in Biel, he was fascinated by the lab and the interface between man and machine in this field. He knew that this was the career for him. From there he went on to take up an internship before assuming a permanent position in the company’s biomechanics lab. When Biel-based Swiss wheel manufacturer DT Swiss advertised the position of lab director, Philipp Lüdi, a bike enthusiast in his spare time too, seized his chance and switched to the sport sector.

Quality, safety and performance are par for the course
The mechanical test lab of DT Swiss is home to a well-rehearsed team of four, the majority of whose work focuses on internal testing jobs. Philipp Lüdi’s job is to coordinate, prioritize and plan these jobs. Most of the tests are carried out for the development team, subjecting prototypes to rigorous testing. Approval for series production depends on the success of these lab tests. The lab also tests products from ongoing production to ensure they meet the relevant quality requirements.

Before DT Swiss products are launched on the market, Philipp Lüdi and his team test them to their limits and beyond in their in-house test lab. Find out more in this video:

DT Swiss also has its own in-house wheel design department which specializes in prototype and small series production. It builds the wheel prototypes which then go on to be tested in the test lab.

Right to the limit of perfection
In addition to coordinating and planning test orders, Philipp Lüdi is also responsible for the further development of existing test methods. For him and his colleagues at DT Swiss, it goes without saying that it is not just the products that have to be continually optimized, the methods of testing their properties and documenting the tests are also subject to ongoing development. Given this passion for perfection, it is little wonder that the team in Biel are now largely developing and building their own testing equipment.

Services to standardization
In his role as director of the test lab, Philipp Lüdi is also responsible for the standardization work done by the company. He is heavily involved in the working group ISO/TC 31/SC 10/WG 16 (Tyre designations and dimensions for bicycle tyres and rims). The group meets once or twice a year and holds additional online meetings in the interim periods. Its aim is to further develop standards while taking into consideration new market developments and to ensure that even the latest products meet technical requirements relevant to safety.

What advantages does Philipp Lüdi see in this collaboration for standardization? “Our company benefits from this process firstly because we experience trends first-hand and, secondly, because we can play an active role in shaping other developments. As a major bike component manufacturer, we are heavily invested in ensuring that products reaching the market are safe. Most major bike manufacturers and competitors are also represented in the committee, which make it ideal for networking”, explains Philipp Lüdi.

The bicycle industry is very fast moving, new concepts are constantly appearing on the market and existing components are continually being optimized. While the standardization process may be slow in comparison to the development process, it plays a very important role, particularly when it comes to safety. Standards define minimum requirements for products, thus guaranteeing safe bikes for the end customer. DT Swiss on the other hand sets itself standards which go beyond the basic safety requirements with a view to guaranteeing outstanding product performance. These requirements are set out in an in-house works standard.

Picture sources: DT Swiss

About DT Swiss AG

DT Swiss AG is a global company based in Biel that develops, manufactures and distributes high-quality bike components. DT Swiss products stand for precision and reliability and are developed with a view to offering reliable components that guarantee an unforgettable cycling experience on any terrain. Swiss engineering ingenuity and innovation played a central role in the transformation of DT Swiss from little more than a spoke manufacturer into one of the world’s leading suppliers of spokes, nipples, trims, hubs, wheels, and suspension systems in next to no time. Driven by a passion for cycling, more than 600 employees across six locations throughout the world work on setting new standards with DT Swiss products.

In addition to expanding the product range, the company is also investing in new production sites. Approximately 600 employees develop, manufacture and distribute the company’s first-class products throughout the world. DT Swiss has production and distribution sites in Germany, Poland, France, the USA and Taiwan. The same machines used at the Swiss site are used at all their sites, thus guaranteeing the same high production standard and the same Swiss quality.

Performance test center

The performance test centre houses 29 testing facilities ranging from small-scale equipment to large test stands; most of the new equipment is developed and built in-house.

Wheel tests

A total of 2115 wheel tests were carried out at the DT Swiss performance test centre in 2019.

Wheel mileage

You could go around the world about 37 times with the wheel mileage travelled on the drum test rigs in one year (approximately 1.5 million km).

Philipp Lüdi

Philipp Lüdi also likes to be on the bike during private time.

Wheel design department

DT Swiss also has its own in-house wheel design department which specializes in prototype and small series production.

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