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MPA NRW: Over six decades of quality and safety

On 20 May 1947 the economics minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Prof. Dr. Erik Noelting, signed the decree to establish a state Materials Testing Office in the Alte Radstrasse in Dortmund. Already after a short time the MPA NRW needed more room due to continually increasing testing work: in 1952 it moved to the Marsbruchstrasse where the state company is located even today.

Another milestone in the history of the MPA NRW is the establishment of the outpost in Erwitte that is a fire testing centre today. The aim in 1978 was to create optimal conditions for fire protection experiments. In 1995 the Office became a commercially run state company.

In 2007 the MPA NRW celebrated its 60th anniversary and issued an extensive special edition (pdf) of its newsletter “Check-it!” for its clients.

In the years following 1947 testing building materials was the main business of the Materials Testing Office NRW. On the photo: the self-constructed testing facility “Uschi”.


The research institute of the Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG (United Steel Works Corporation) in the Alte Radstrasse in Dortmund is closed on 30 June 1946 by the British military administration. Nearly one year later the newly founded Material Testing Office moves in here.

The day of foundation

On 20 May 1947 the economics minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Prof. Dr. Erik Noelting, decrees to establish the state Materials Testing Office in Dortmund. Tasks of the office: further development of material testing, issuance of material assessments and research in the sphere of material testing. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Bischof (Photo) is its first director (1947–1964).


The MPA NRW needs more room for more extensive tests: Remedial works begin on the buildings of a former army ordnance depot on the premises of Dortmund’s Marsbruchstrasse – in 1952 the MPA NRW moves here. It is located in the Marsbruchstrasse even today.


Dr. rer. nat. Wilhelm Stupp is appointed new director of the MPA NRW on 6 July 1964. He leads the office until 1981.


Proud employees celebrate the MPA NRW’s 1000th fire test on 8 November 1966.


In order to deal with the increasing demand of safety certificates for building materials an outpost of the MPA NRW is founded in Essen. After the demand has returned to a normal level it is liquidated in 1984.


In 1968 the construction works on a hall of the MPA NRW begin where building materials and components are tested.


Dr. Horst Ludwig Riemer, minister for economy, mittelstand and transport of North Rhine-Westphalia has the tasks of the MPA NRW and those of similar institutes reviewed. The result is a decree according to which the MPA NRW is to concentrate on testing technical safety and economic promotion.



With the development in mining the testing range of the MPA NRW also extends. Thus intensified tests for the pit fitout are conducted. The MPA NRW supports manufacturers of mining equipment and advances pit safety as well as technical development in the mining industry.



The planning for the outpost for fire protection tests in Erwitte begins in two sections – first for building materials, then for components. This testing centre is an important part of the MPA NRW even today.


Dr.-Ing. Anton Kremeier becomes director of the MPA NRW on 15 December 1981 and will occupy this function until 31 August 1993. Under his lead the measurement and control technology is further renewed.


The MPA NRW establishes a crash test facility for motor vehicle components like safety belts or airbags. In the process the crash is simulated by shocklike movements of a sliding test carriage with a car body mounted upon it without real cars hitting crash walls. Due to this the car body is not destroyed during the test and can reused.


Since the end of the 80s the services of the MPA NRW are more orientated towards the inner-European market. In many spheres material tests are now conducted according to harmonised regulations that are valid in the whole of Europe.


The MPA NRW establishes a certification centre for quality management systems. These system certifications offer an optimal complement to product certification.


Harald Friedrichs takes over the lead of the MPA NRW on 1 September 1993. He will occupy this function until 31 January 1997 and implements comprehensive rationalization measures during this time.


Since 1 February 1997 the jurist Jens-Peter Steuck has been leading the business of the MPA NRW as its director.


The MPA NRW develops a functional test on sanitary fittings with the aid of a robot. These are an optimal complement to the tests of noise development on fittings.


The first MPA NRW client forum on the subject of fire protection initialises a number of other forums in various business areas that attract great interest of the clients even today.


Approved: The MPA NRW receives the award of Dortmund’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce as examined company that takes on trainees according to the German Vocational Training Act. Every year the company takes on alternating trainees in the qualified jobs for office administrator, physical and chemical laboratory assistant, construction material tester and material tester as well as IT specialist. 10 apprenticeship places are available for vocational training in the dual education system.


The MPA NRW is „partner and pilot“ for its clients should they have questions concerning the harmonisation of European standards and their effects on the products that are manufactured for the European market.



Establishment of a product certification body according to the new EU Construction Products Regulation (305/2011). Thus, having met the high demands to accreditation at an early stage, MPA NRW could position firmly on the market.



In July 2014 the 4000th large scale fire test was carried out in the fire testing hall for building components in Erwitte. The focal point of testing was the functional integrity of cables.



On 8 May 2015 the Minister for Economics of North Rhine-Westphalia inaugurated the new Personal Dosimetry building in Dortmund. Personal dosimetry is of outstanding importance for public safety (radiation protection). This new building, which comprises all dosimetry departments, is one of the core pieces of MPA NRW’s strategic plans for the future.



The testing laboratory for safety glass was appraised by the Federal Office for Motor Traffic (KBA) in May 2015 for „Excellent Quality“.

The Federal Office for Motor Traffic (KBA) is a body which approves vehicles and vehicle components for use on roads and evaluates the certification of its suppliers for technical services.



The new building of the Fire Testing laboratory in Erwitte shall optimise the testing offer for the fire behaviour of building materials and components. For this intent new premises have been created for the test range „Functional tests of natural smoke and heat exhaust systems”. For the associated low-temperature tests according to DIN EN 12101‑2 a climate chamber has also been installed in Erwitte. Simultaneously, the sample preparation for the SBI-tests was integrated in the new hall. The building project in Erwitte is a further important milestone in the strategic plans for the future of the state company MPA NRW.