New testing center for powertrain systems

  • 05-Aug-2008 04:55 EDT
IAV1 RGB.jpg
A member of IAV's technical staff begins the final preparation on a cardan shaft on IAV's heavy-duty dynamometer at its Berlin, Germany facility.
Ten years after establishing a North American operations base in Michigan, a provider of engineering services for powertrain, electronics systems, and vehicle development is breaking the dependence cycle of going elsewhere for its testing needs.

In late 2008, IAV Automotive Engineering intends to open a 40,000-ft² (3716-m²) technical center with test cells for gasoline, diesel, and hybrid powertrains. "We see this new engine test facility as an enabler to do larger turnkey projects in-house," said Utz-Jens Beister, President of IAV Automotive Engineering Inc., a subsidiary of Germany-based IAV GmbH.

The new Northville Township facility, representing a $23 million investment, will put a spotlight on four engine dynamometer test cells fitted with full transient emission and measurement equipment. "My guess is that we're going to have a number of diesel engine programs that we'll be involved with because diesel engine manufacturers are at the same point in terms of dealing with new emissions regulations that gasoline engine manufacturers were in the mid-1970s," said Michael Traver, Manager of the Diesel Team for IAV Automotive Engineering.

Although the demand for diesel engines is viewed as a given, it will not be the only game in play. "As an engineering service provider, you need to be very flexible, and that's one of the reasons that our dynamometer test cells are being set up to handle different types of engines," said Beister. The technical center's fuel lines will supply petroleum diesel, biodiesel, gasoline, and ethanol.

IAV engineers will add automated calibration and automated mapping techniques to the current product development portfolio of hardware-in-the-loop and simulation testing/analysis when the new facility opens. "If you have an engine with a lot of independent variables that you're trying to manipulate, the test space that you have to cover is multidimensional and very, very large. If you do this work with traditional engine mapping, it's going to take months to understand what that engine can do," said Traver. Simply put: The ability to do engine mapping through automated methods means that the overall design-development-testing framework will be significantly time-compressed.

Automated calibration has been part of the parent company's portfolio for a number of years. "We'll have IAV engineers in Germany assist with training. Some of our engineers will be trained in Michigan, and some of our engineers will go to Germany for training," said Beister. Not only will IAV's current 95-person Ann Arbor staff relocate to the new center, additional workers—including mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineers—will be needed. IAV's employee tally is forecast to exceed 170 in the next five years.

Beister, who was IAV Automotive Engineering's Vice President of Engineering before becoming IAV Automotive Engineering's President in 2005, said that having a technical center in North America is vital, "especially when considering the ever-increasing emissions regulations and upcoming fuel consumption and CO2-reduction goals. The new facility means IAV can support automakers much more comprehensively as the OEMs develop and refine their­ powertrains and electronic systems for the future."

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