A New Era in Heavy Truck TestingMTS senior product manager Mike Schultz discusses the new MTS Model 329 Heavy Truck (HT) Spindle-Coupled Road Simulator, which satisfies the increased durability evaluation demands of a rapidly changing industry.
Q: What primary testing challenges do heavy truck manufacturers and suppliers face?
Schultz: Historically, heavy truck manufacturers and suppliers have had a difficult choice to make with their durability testing: either save money with time-intensive proving ground or road testing, or save time through fast but expensive physical testing in a laboratory. With today’s rising fuel prices, the cost advantages of the former option are diminishing rapidly.
On top of these challenges, the heavy truck industry itself is also changing profoundly. New regulations mandate decreased stopping distances, greater vehicle stability and other performance requirements. Emerging markets in Eastern Europe and Asia also have unique requirements and road conditions, creating additional heavy truck design considerations.
Faced with these conditions, manufacturers and suppliers must find ways to meet increasingly aggressive test demands, while also continuing to control costs and minimize time-to-market.
Q: How can heavy truck manufacturers and suppliers achieve these seemingly incompatible goals?
Schultz: The solution rests in affordable laboratory testing. Recent technology advances make it a cost-effective option to move a majority of heavy truck testing into the test lab.
Our most significant recent addition is the MTS 329 Heavy Truck (HT) Spindle-Coupled Road Simulator. This new solution leverages the spindle-coupled road simulator technology we pioneered for passenger vehicle and light-truck testing, capable of reproducing the same durability events in the test lab that are measured on the heavy truck proving ground.
The MTS 329 HT road simulator combines a new actuator design with proven MTS fixture kinematics technology to run complete, real-time simulation tests up to 50Hz. Heavy-truck-rated wheel force transducers replicate real-world levels of peak displacement, velocity, acceleration and force, in up to six degrees of freedom of motion at each spindle.
Q: How can heavy truck manufacturers use this new road simulator?
Schultz: The MTS 329 HT road simulator is ideal for testing specimens such as tractors, trailers, frames, suspensions, and suspension components and materials. We only began accepting orders a few weeks ago, but ZF-Lemförder, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, is already using our road simulator to test its heavy truck suspension designs.
The MTS 329 HT simulator is also ideal for validating compliance with new regulations mandating shorter braking distances. This requirement has driven the redesign of many front axle assemblies, which can be quickly and efficiently tested for durability using this system.
The new test system offers a flexible design to accommodate various configurations and meet the needs of emerging markets and new industry regulations. It also reduces operating costs through low energy use and low hydraulic pumping requirements.
Q: How will the MTS 329 HT road simulator benefit heavy truck manufacturers?
Schulz: For the first time, choosing physical testing over the proving ground makes good economical sense for heavy truck durability testing.
This solution facilitates faster, more affordable and more precise durability testing, by successfully moving more of it off the test track and into the controlled, repeatable and cost-efficient test lab environment. Equipped with this new testing capability, heavy truck manufacturers can get effective new designs to market in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Like its predecessor for the passenger vehicle industry, the MTS 329 HT road simulator is destined to become the industry standard for heavy truck durability testing.
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