Category Archives: Software & Testing Solutions

Future Mobility

The Balance Between Complex Testing Tasks and Effective Development in Testing Environments

11. September 2017 | Software & Testing Solutions

The Balance Between Complex Testing Tasks and Effective Development in Testing Environments

The areas of mobility and transportation are undergoing a heavily accelerated process of change. Traditional global mega-trends encompass widely differentiated user-specific and customer-specific requirements, different laws, ever stricter environmental regulations, limited resources and the electrification of drive systems. In addition, issues such as autonomous vehicles and customized, on-demand mobility solutions are growing in importance. Coming up with solutions and products requires completely new approaches on top of the established technologies, where constant advancements are needed. Examples of such approaches include digitization, information technology and networking.

The increasing complexity and differentiation result in stricter requirements that cannot be met in acceptable time frames at an acceptable cost level using established methods and processes. New, customized and specifically designed solutions and products must be developed to overcome these challenges.

Over the past years, advanced and high-performance simulation processes have become established as a main pillar in the portfolio of vehicle and drive system development. Numerous conventional methods of testing and proving have been partially or completely replaced by computer simulation. Increasing system complexity and validation requirements today and in the future, however, require specifically tailored testing solutions to validate functional reliability, quality, etc.
The suitably powerful testing capacity available provided in today’s cutting-edge development environment is no longer limited to mere logistical and technological solutions such as test rigs and measurement systems. For services to be highly efficient, all stakeholders need to be appropriately involved in the entire process of development. Besides designing and equipping the testing environment, this includes areas such as personnel structure and expertise, methods, operational organization, highly efficient logistics, information networking, and more.

Future Testing Environment Strategies

The design of future testing environments must be based on medium-term and long-term strategic product development planning and the testing requirements derived from it. They must do more than meet the simple engineering, operational, and logistical requirements. In particular, they need to be cost-effective, have a balance between operating capacity and personnel resources (and ensure they are utilized to the greatest possible extent), and assign work sensibly between what covers their own needs and what is commissioned by customers.

Testing Environment Organization and Processes

The organization and processes of modern testing environments have changed fundamentally in recent years. In the past, workers from development departments were often very extensively involved in the testing environment operations, sometimes even having a say in how they were conducted. The testing environment staff essentially represented the facility’s capacity, resources, and operators. Responsibility for defining the testing program and performing evaluations rested with the engineering department.

Over the past few years, various tasks have been shifted from engineering to the testing environments. Today, many testing environment crews are, for the most part, independently in charge of generating all test results. It takes adequate human resources and engineering capacity to perform these additional duties. That includes making the testing environment responsible for all processes and their design as well as medium-term and long-term structural orientation and investment budgeting.

Staff: Structure and Authority

The increasing transfer of numerous duties from engineering to the testing environment’s area of responsibility is creating a need for a greater number of engineers in current personnel structures and ranges of expertise. In the past, the largest share of a testing environment’s staff by far consisted of mechanics and some electricians and foremen with very few engineers. Today, the percentage of technicians and engineers has risen sharply. Added to that are IT and other specialists of various disciplines, who take care of the sophisticated test rig automation systems, measurement systems, and various software tools.

Logistics, Plus Flows of Information, Materials, and Data

Organizing modern testing environment operations to be efficient and economical requires the implementation of processes structured to be efficient and flexible from end to end and which can be adapted to meet changing requirements. This includes information management, which encompasses the handling and distribution of all incoming, internally circulating, and outgoing information, the management of experimental and measurement data plus material flows and logistics, quality management, and more. All primary and support processes need to mesh with each other smoothly and require continuous assessment, adjustment, and optimization.

Graphic - FEV Testcenter efficiency

Working and Testing Methods

Today’s advanced testing environments already use IT-based methods and tools to a large extent for organizing processes and performing work. Examples include databases used to aid in the preparation of project-specific test rig set-up and program plans, largely standardized test rig and measurement systems, highly automated running of test programs, integrated computer simulation tools, automated evaluation of test runs, and databases used to file test results.

The FEVFLEX information management software offered by FEV is a powerful solution for managing tasks, procedures, devices, media, test objects, test rigs, measurement data, and test projects, thereby contributing sustainably to a testing center’s efficiency. In addition, FEV MORPHEE significantly lowers the variety of software applications conventionally needed on test rigs. No matter if ECU (HIL), component, engine, powertrain, vehicle, or others: MORPHEE adapts to any kind of test environment.

Further reductions in time and costs of the development process can be achieved with Online and Offline-DoE tools for virtual calibration. FEV xCAL combines best-in-class modeling algorithms with an intuitive, workflow-based interface, thus enabling virtual and efficient calibration of a wide variety of powertrains and other applications.

Structure and Equipment

Today’s high-tech testing environments provide environmental simulation systems as well as traditional equipment such as test benches for engines, transmissions, vehicles, system components, and measuring equipment. In the future, there will be more new testing systems for conducting every test necessary in the field of autonomous vehicles. In recent years, high-performance computer simulation tools have replaced conventional testing methods, with new methods and procedures for testing being created. One example of this is the real-time networking of various subsystem test rigs with the built-in simulation of the system components of an entire powertrain that are not available in physical form.

For instance, FEV and the Institute for Combustion Engines (VKA) have developed the “virtual shaft” as an important tool. The test environment consists of physically separate test benches that are linked by a real-time EtherCAT connection. Thanks to the virtual shaft, the dynamometers in both component test benches are controlled in such a way that system behavior matches that of a real mechanical shaft. This enables us to recreate interactions – such as between an engine and a transmission – as early as the prototype stage before the two components can be physically adapted. That saves valuable time in development. Other benefits mainly include a protected test environment and a high number of options for monitoring individual test objects. This way, damage to prototypes can be effectively prevented. In addition, the virtual shaft allows the testing of hybrid powertrain combinations that are not yet mechanically compatible and would otherwise have to undergo extensive adaptation.

Graphic - FEV Testcenter efficiency

Virtual wave between two testing facilites



Contact-free Measurement of Combustion Air on Engine Test Benches

28. August 2017 | Software & Testing Solutions

Contact-free Measurement of Combustion Air on Engine Test Benches

Significantly increased requirements regarding the environmental compatibility of combustion engines require more specific measures for reductions in consumption and emissions. Every modification to the engine must be examined on a test bench with regard to its impact on emissions and fuel consumption, among other things. In this context, the exact measurement of the combustion air mass flow is very important. For this purpose, FEV has developed the FEV AirRate, which is now available in an improved and completely redesigned version. The AirRate is used for the contactless measurement of gas velocity, pressure, humidity, and temperature of the combustion air on engine test benches. The air mass flow in kg/h is calculated and displayed using these parameters.

High Measurement Accuracy

The ultrasonic gas flow meter with 8 ultrasonic transducers in 4 measurement paths enables very high accuracy in measurement throughout the entire measurement area. The extremely fast response time of the system ensures reproducible air quantity measurements, even for highly dynamic processes in the induction tract. Due to the low pressure loss in the AirRate measurement section, engine behavior is not affected. Due to the large measurement range spread of the AirRate 100 and AirRate 150 measurement systems, the complete range, from single cylinder engines to heavy duty engines, can be covered with only 2 device sizes.

Compact Design in a Single Casing

The AirRate requires very little space; thanks to the compact design, the entire measurement technology fits in a single casing, and there is no need for wiring between the measuring unit and the output unit.

The flow rectifiers integrated in the device effectively reduce turbulence in the combustion air, thereby enabling the system, for example, to be installed directly behind a pipe elbow without any extension of the inflow section whatsoever. Integration in test benches, with or without combustion air conditioning, is thus very easy, as is a quick conversion for operation with or without AirRate.

Clear Operation

During the redesign, special attention was paid to an increase in measurement frequency and simple and clear operation.

Compared to the previous device, the measurement frequency has more than doubled; in addition to pressure and temperature measurements, a humidity measurement has been added for mass determination. The four-path design with a total of eight titanium ultrasonic sensors guarantees very high accuracy in measurement, even under difficult flow conditions. In addition, a plausibility check is carried out between the paths, so that the drift of a path can be detected and reported. Due to the path compensation functionality, the malfunction of an entire path can be compensated for by the device, with no loss of measurement accuracy.

The AirRate is operated via the 7” touchscreen display with easily readable graphic elements, via the web browser, or via the WiFi interface. The latter in particular enables very easy operation and settings adjustments – even in difficult and inaccessible installation conditions – through the use of a smartphone, for example.

All settings are password protected; as a result, any unauthorized or accidental incorrect adjustment of the settings is excluded. The operation surface and the web menus are available in several languages and can be expanded by the user.

Low Maintenance and Calibration Requirements

In addition to the power output (4 to 20 mA), a tension output is now also available (0 to 10 V). The series interface with the AK protocol is fully compatible with the previous version. A simple replacement is therefore possible, since the mechanical connection dimensions were maintained. The AK protocol is also available via TCP/IP in addition to the series interface.

The pressure, temperature, and humidity sensors all communicate via a digital bus protocol. This enables them to be easily replaced by factory-calibrated spare parts in case of a defect; a recalibration of the device is not necessary in this case.

The calibration interval of the AirRate is 2 years and is therefore significantly better than comparable hot film measuring devices with a 6-month calibration interval. Upon request, a DAkkS calibration of the AirRate is possible.