11. September 2017 | Software & Testing Solutions

Future Mobility

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

 

 

 

 

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