2018 Show Report

Proving yet again that Automotive Testing Expo in Novi, MI, USA – now in its 16th year – remains the must-attend event for everyone involved in full vehicle and component-level testing and development, this year’s show saw more than 330 exhibitors display their latest concepts and innovations to more than 5,500 visitors live on the show floor.

Among the exclusive technology debuts at the Suburban Collection Showplace was AxialTQ, a next-generation torque measurement device by Interface (Booth 6022C). Featuring a rotor, high-precision sensing element technology and state-of-the-art electronics, AxialTQ was developed in collaboration with end-users who shared their wish-lists for operational priorities, user interface, design, features, real-word field issues and more.

Specifically designed for the automotive industry, AxialTQ has the ability to use simultaneous analog and digital outputs to enable real-time control and data collection. Implementation of an axial gap, as opposed to a radial gap, means there is minimized concerned that the shaft, rotor and stator will make contact, significantly reducing the possibility of damaging the system.

“Interface is breaking new ground in several areas with the AxialTQ torque measurement system,” said Jake Shaffer, senior product manager, Interface. “The engineering experience and expertise that went into the development of this product has allowed us to produce an industry-leading system that addresses the most pressing needs in today’s market.”

Elsewhere on the show floor, Kistler (Booth 9036) discussed its recent acquisition of Swiss high-performance measurement technology company SMETEC, which strengthens Kistler’s market position in engine development and research.

As attendees discovered, the acquisition will enable Kistler, via precise analyses of the combustion process, to better optimize engine designs and thus meet growing requirements regarding cost-effectiveness and zero-emission operation of combustion engines. Using SMTEC’s technology, processes in the combustion chamber can visualized and statements made on the quality of the combustion process.

“The new technology complements our classic measurement technology, especially in the area of pressure sensors, very well,” said Rolf Sonderegger, CEO, Kistler. “With the acquisition of SMTEC we expand our portfolio in an ideal manner and can offer additional options in combustion analysis.”

Meanwhile, Inficon (Booth 11014) ¬– presenting its new XL3000flex leak-detection system for electric vehicle (EV) batteries – used this year’s show to caution attendees on how battery cooling circuit leaks can cause thermal runaway and potentially lead to an explosion or fire that might reach up to 2,012oF (1,100oC).

According to Inficon’s North American automotive sales manager Thomas Parker, “the need for modern, high-speed, but accurate test methods has increased dramatically in recent years along with a growing interest in electric vehicles”. He added that robotic leak detection will help solve a number of production-related issues, especially problems associated with EV batteries and gasoline direct-injection engines where test speed accuracy is needed.

“State-of-the-art leak-detection methods will be key to achieving quality throughout automotive supplier and OEM production processes,” said Parker. “Robotic testing will be especially helpful in testing an ever-growing number of EV batteries given that the production of EV batteries is expected to climb by more than 400% by 2024.”

Another exciting development came from Kratzer Automation (Booth 3006), which has acquired Hofmann TeSys, a German manufacturer and supplier of vehicle test benches, for use in production and research and development.

Both companies will initially continue to operate independently under their own names and all current customer projects, supplier and service agreements with continue without interruption. Sibylle Pessall, Uwe Krummenoehler and Otto Kilg take over the management of Hofmann TeSys in Germany.

"The proven solutions from Hofmann TeSys are an excellent addition to our range in the field of test bench technology," said Uwe Krummenoehler, member of the executive board for test systems at Kratzer. "We expect the acquisition to generate synergy effects in the areas of purchasing, administration and research and development. We are already interfacing to Hofmann TeSys test stands with our automation and test data management software."

Finally, Rohde & Schwarz (Booth 17040) took the opportunity to promote its new partnership with Spirent to provide a test solution offering full coverage of both physical and protocol layers for automotive Ethernet TC8 ECU test specifications.

Benefits of the collaboration include a ‘best of both worlds’ approach when it comes to compliance testing and debugging for 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1. Rohde & Schwarz offers a test solution to cover the mandatory test cases for the PHY layer based on the company’s RTO oscilloscope and ZND vector network analyzer, while Spirent complements this solution by adding its Automotive C50 test platform to support all protocol layers.

Dr Nik Dimitrakopoulos, automotive Ethernet and infotainment manager at Rohde & Schwarz, said: “Automotive Ethernet will dominate future in-vehicle networks. Today we have 100/1000BASE-T1, tomorrow we will have Multi-Giga Ethernet. We are very excited about our partnership with Spirent. Our common goal is to provide customers with an unrivalled and complete solution covering both the physical and protocol layers.”

Attendees of Automotive Testing Expo 2018 in Novi, MI, USA praised the diversity and quality of products on display, as well as the high-level networking opportunities that the expo and conferences presented.

“It’s been a positive show, it puts us in front of a lot of our customers and we get to display a lot of our new technologies – flow meters, progressive cavity pumps – to potential customers that we’re not typically able to get in front of, such as GM, Ford and Tier 1s,” said Tony Marsaglia, president, IC Flow Controls.

Andy Hohla, product manager, Meggitt Sensing Systems, a manufacturer of sensors, accelerometers and pressure sensors, said: “It’s been a great show for us, it feels like a bigger show than in the past and we’ve made a lot of good leads with people in the automotive crash test sector and companies with test facilities, such as Ford, GM, and Toyota.”

Likeswise, Sam Kasgorgis, VP, sales and marketing, Americas, Xylon, felt that the show was the ideal place to meet and network with the key decision makers in the automotive industry. “The expo was fantastic, and I appreciated the opportunity to connect with colleagues from around the world.”

For Mike Wells, director of operations at DSA Systems, a Troy, MI-based developer of communication solutions for vehicle electronic, this year’s show proved to be even better than last year’s following the company’s decision to upgrade its booth size and location. “It’s been very successful for us. It’s our first year demoing the collaborative robot with our products, and it’s generated a lot of interest from Ford, GM and FCA. They were all very responsive to it, which is exactly what we wanted and why we decided to upgrade our booth.”

Meanwhile, Dr Steven Neads, director and chief technical officer, AB Dynamics, was pleased with the steady flow of customers throughout the duration of the show. “We’ve met with a number major OEMs and proving grounds that are highly interested in our ADAS testing equipment, specifically our platforms that carry soft targets for testing AEB and collision detection systems. It’s been a good show for us.”

Elsewhere, Vikram Srinivasan, a research assistant at Western Michigan University, came to the show to learn how leading organizations bring their products to market. “I’m working on a program called Introduction to Customer Discovery, which examines the commercialization of any product or technology, so I came here for one-on-one interactions with the exhibitors to find out about some of the problems and challenges they face when commercializing a product in this sector. It’s been really helpful being here.”

First-time visitor Betty Bloomingburg, a technician at Sensordata Technologies for 20 years, was keen to discover the latest advancements in sensor technology for strain testing. “It’s an amazing show, I’ve met a lot of people from the right kinds of companies that produce what I’m looking for. I’d definitely recommend the show to people that haven’t been before.”

Monica Coulter, an ITS network architect for the State of Michigan, who provides roadside infrastructure for auto makers testing autonomous vehicles, left the Suburban Collection Showplace very fulfilled. “I came here to see what all the suppliers are doing in regards to autonomous vehicles testing and to establish how we might be able to assist them. I loved this year’s show, it was very diverse, and all the conference speakers were great and very informative about the range of upcoming technologies.”

Finally, Altaf Syed, chief design engineer at Reuland Electric, an electric motor manufacturer, said: “Some of our products are used in test stands so I came here to see what new products can help with our own product development programs. It’s pretty exciting being around so much innovation.”

Automotive Testing Expo will return to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI, USA on October 22-24, 2019. Book your exhibition space now

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2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

Future show: Automotive Testing Expo, Novi, Michigan 2020, October 27-29, 2020, Halls A, B & C, Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi, Michigan, USA (provisional)