2016 Show Report

More exhibitors and more new technologies than ever!

“It’s been another record year,” said Graham Johnson, managing director of UKi Media & Events, organizer of Automotive Testing Expo in Novi, Michigan, USA. “More exhibitors than ever before have attracted more visitors than ever before. Almost 6,000 attendees! We’ve seen more new product launches than ever, too. The need for better, faster, more accurate component and full-vehicle test and validation technologies is clearly greater than ever.”

Exhibitors responded by unveiling a number of exciting technology debuts live on the show floor, as exemplified by National Instruments, which demonstrated several new test solutions for the autonomous vehicle market. These included its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) radar test solution for performing RF measurements and target simulation for radar sensors; a HIL simulator based on the company’s new SLSC open architecture for switches, loads and signal conditioning; and a direct injector control module (DCM) for driving and controlling any type of injector.

“From concept to production, these test solutions can help reduce cost across all stages of vehicle development and future-proof test systems against rapidly expanding test requirements,” said Chad Chesney, vice president of data acquisition and embedded systems at National Instruments. “Customers gain the cost benefits of commercial off-the-shelf tools and the breadth of measurement and control capabilities to help them maximize test coverage.”

On the Circuit Check booth, the developer of test, automation and interfacing solutions for electronics and electromechanical devices announced the release and installation of its CCI 6000 Series rotary table handler at an OEM customer’s in-house manufacturing facility, and its selected contract manufacturer.

Circuit Check’s 6000 Series uses interchangeable fixture plates to maximize equipment reuse and minimize the cost for each new test. The CCI 6000 can perform functional tests, flash programming, vision inspection, through-connector test and/or marking.

“Similar to the CCI 5000 Series, the 6000 Series begins as a base architecture and is then configured to customer-specific needs in order to maximize performance at a lower investment,” said Greg Michalko, CEO of Circuit Check. “All of our line-automation products support many suppliers of functional measurement equipment, marking tools, labeling, vision inspection and flash programming technologies. Our OEM customer is delighted by the ease of use and compact form factor.”

Meanwhile, wireless sensor manufacturer TECAT Performance Systems announced that it has expanded its manufacturers representative network in the USA by signing agreements with Sentech Measurements Inc and Measurements Inc. Effective immediately, Measurements Inc will offer TECAT’s WISER wireless measuring and monitoring systems throughout the mid-Atlantic states; Sentech Measurements Inc will carry the solutions in California and Nevada.

“The test and measurement space can be difficult to penetrate with disruptive technology,” said Don Keating, vice president, new business development, at TECAT Performance Systems. “Sentech Measurements and Measurements Inc, however, are well positioned to do just that with our WISER sensor technology.”

The WISER system product line includes the new WISER 4000 torque measuring and monitoring system for automotive applications, and the WISER TC2-K temperature measurement and monitoring system for automotive brake rotors.

Elsewhere on the show floor, test solutions provider Link Engineering shared details of two recent additions made to its Dearborn test facility. These include an eccentric mass system and new park brake ramps.

The new eccentric mass system is equipped for wheel fatigue testing for passenger car and light truck applications, running at speeds up to 2,500rpm. The system operates in two modes: moment control to adjust speed and optimize test duration, and speed/moment control to meet the target moment within a specified speed range. As a modular design with 8kNm and 15kNm cornering moment capabilities, the system is capable of testing up to 22-inch wheel sizes. This new machine meets the requirements of ECE R124 and the INMETRO wheel certification program.

In addition, the two new park brake ramps are set up for hold testing at 20% and 30% grade hill and have a maximum weight capacity of 15,000 Ib.

“We’re constantly innovating and expanding our testing capabilities to ensure that we’re creating the best testing facility for our customers,” said Tim Duncan, Link’s executive vice president. “We provide data that is accurate, reliable, technical and timely at our testing facility in Dearborn and our facilities all over the world.”

Visitors to Automotive Testing Expo North America 2016 were united in their praise of the diversity of products on display, as well as the networking opportunities that the expo – now in its 13th year – presented. “I’ve been coming to this show from upstate New York for 20 years and every year it’s been worth the trip,” said Paul Baumgartner, manufacturers rep, Maxwell Bennett. “Being a manufacturers rep I’m always on the lookout for new products, and Automotive Testing Expo never lets me down.”

“The quality of speakers has been phenomenal,” added Meghan Chamberlain, marketing analyst at Robert Bosch. “I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the presentations in the Autonomous Vehicle Interior Design & Technology Symposium and I sat in a VW presentation. Not only was it really insightful, but it was also much more provocative than I was expecting.”

Other visitors, such as Timothy Ottinger, a senior engineer at Tesla, had their eyes on other specific technologies to help with their test needs. “I came here mainly for the Crash Test Zone as we’re interested in buying some high-speed lighting and, though it’s not the biggest area, I was really impressed with the quality of the suppliers. It’s been a really helpful experience. I’d recommend it to anyone working in a lab that’s looking to buy new equipment.

Likewise, Neville Bugli, engineering manager at Toledo Molding & Die, said, “I’m now in charge of my company’s lab - it reports to me – so I’m here to see what we could potentially use from the vendors.”

Exhibitors were equally pleased with the quality of those in attendance. “We had one of our driving simulators out on the floor and my best leads actually came from visitors from General Motors wanting to try it out,” said Phil Metcalf, account manager, Accurate Technologies. “And those are the people I’ve been mainly trying to get really good contacts with, and I actually ended up getting them. But the only reason I did was because of the setup we have at the show.”

“The show went great. We had a lot of traffic, the show floor was full, and a lot of great conversations with end users from OEMs and suppliers from as far afield as North Carolina, Texas and California asking for new products were had,” said Jim Hutter, marketing and account manager, Vector North America.

Mike Davis, southwest sales manager at data acquisition supplier Dewesoft, said, “The show’s been really good for us. We’ve had a lot of visitors and generated a lot of good new leads. The traffic around the show has been consistently high and the show itself continues to grow considerably on each previous year. Around 60% of our visitors have been repeats, which is great because it shows that we’re growing in other areas and it means our customers are happy.”

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