Commercial Vehicle Testing – Under Realistic Conditions
Due to the rapid development of increasingly complex vehicles, ever greater numbers of manufacturers are counting on experienced partner support in the field of vehicle testing. Formel D is responsive to this environment and is continually expanding the scope of its services in this area. Therefore, the group is also increasingly implementing projects in commercial vehicle testing. Since 2018, Formel D has been supporting its customers at MAN Truck & Bus SE in comprehensive testing for poor road conditions (torture-track testing) and endurance testing at two locations.
Steve Eckardt first moves the steering wheel upwards, then down, followed by turning it to the end stop in both directions. Next, the Formel D project coordinator drives the truck in a figure-eight. After this initial start-up, the actual test round really begins where sections with poor road conditions, uneven surfaces, bumps and other road obstacles need to be traversed. Loaded with bags of gravel, the truck repeatedly comes up against its limits along a kilometer-long test track – and that is precisely the purpose and intent of this exercise.
Bad Sections of Highway are Demonstrated
“We test the robustness of the vehicles and components under realistic conditions,” explains Daniel Eiser, Project Manager at Formel D. Formel D test drivers therefore drive MAN Truck & Bus development vehicles on the customer’s own testing grounds over test sections that simulate, for example, bad sections of highways, choppy federal roads or cobblestones roads.
Since the “shake-up route” places strain not only on the test trucks and buses but on the test drivers as well, the Formel D employee shift always has 30 minutes of test driving followed by a half hour break. Silvio Kramp, the evening shift supervisor at Formel D, says that “To recuperate, we often use the massage chair in our break room.” Like the other drivers, Kramp appreciates the good team spirit and the working conditions. “Unlike the freight forwarding industry, there is no deadline pressure here, of getting from A to B in a specified time,” Kramp explains.
- We test the robustness of the vehicles and components.
Endurance Testing on Public Roads
In addition to torture-track testing, Formel D carries out endurance testing for its customers on public roads in Ingolstadt. “We selected the Ingolstadt location because of the suitable infrastructure,” said Daniel Eiser. “We obtained a new site there with enough storage space where we can keep the vehicles safe overnight and on Sundays and holidays, not accessible from the outside, and monitored by camera.”
As with tests done on the test track, each commercial vehicle also has a special route profile that the driver adheres to during the endurance runs. In addition to a specified distance on highways, federal roads and less frequently also in city traffic, cumulative elevation gain also plays an important role. Formel D experts record detailed results derived from the testing and transfer them, together with the data from the selected vehicle error memories, to the respective experts on the part of the customer at MAN. These include workshop foreman Christian Bossing, who emphasizes the “very congenial and forthright collaboration” with Formel D. Bossing and his colleagues make use of the findings derived from testing for development, in order to eliminate possible material defects and to generate improved product quality. Formel D additionally shares information with the customer in regular weekly meetings.
- The most varied vehicle types, from busses to construction vehicles to long-haul vehicles.
In order to assure the successful implementation of the project, Formel D deploys a 30-person team that, in addition to test drivers in Munich and Ingolstadt, comprises drivers for vehicle transfers, project coordinators, and administrative employees. “Because we test the most varied vehicle types, from busses to construction vehicles to long-haul vehicles, we engage experienced vehicle drivers with the appropriate expertise who can also recognize difficult weak points with their know-how”, stressed Daniel Eiser. “In this way, the customer acquires objective assessments through us.”