Show Review 2017: Automotive Testing Expo in Novi, Michigan

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The 2017 edition of Automotive Testing Expo in Novi, Michigan drew the biggest audience yet, with well over 5,000 attendees coming through the doors over the full three days of the show, highlighting once again how vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers require ever more advanced time compression development technologies, systems and services that still ensure the highest quality products.

With over 315 exhibitors displaying their latest innovations, visitors were rewarded with a multitude of exciting project and investment announcements live on the show floor. Among the unveilings at the Suburban Collection Showplace was a new cost-effective leak detection system by Inficon that uses forming gas in an atmospheric accumulation chamber to detect fluid leaks. The LDS3000 AQ has been designed to bridge the gap between pressure-decay, mass flow and helium-vacuum testing. Suitable for testing fuel lines and small heater cores, it detects smaller leak rates but avoids fluctuations often caused by variations in temperature and humidity, detecting leaks down to 10-5 mbar-l/s.

“Our customers have been impressed by LDS3000 AQ’s performance because testing is more accurate when using forming gas, and costs compared with a vacuum test are usually 50-70% less,” said Thomas Parker, North American automotive market sales manager for Inficon. “In addition to providing tremendous cost savings, LDS3000 AQ is Industry 4.0 ready.”

Elsewhere on the show floor, Accurate Technologies (ATI), a leading independent supplier of ECU development tools, discussed a new Ethernet version of its A8 ECU Serial Interface modules. With the rollout of Ethernet, the ATI A8 Serial Interface modules will be easier to implement, fit into more locations, and heighten productivity for automotive ECU development.

ATI’s A8 Serial Interface modules support ECU high-speed data acquisition, calibration and flashing in a single OCDS, Nexus or DAP2 debug interface. Ethernet connectivity enables long-distance connections of up to 50m, and users can expect greatly improved data transfer.

Meanwhile, GRAS Sound & Vibration, a manufacturer of measurement microphones and related acoustic equipment, presented a new rugged automotive microphone designed specifically for the demands of automotive testing.

The 146AE is said to be the world’s only measurement microphone that is shock resistant, waterproof, dust and oil mist resistant and able to withstand high temperatures without compromising measurement quality. It is IP67 rated, comes with a replaceable grid to increase protection against dust, water and high-speed particles, and features a repairable diaphragm to ensure low-cost repairs.

According to GRAS product manager Jan Hansen, the 146AE can be used at a temperature of up to 125oC (257oF), making it suitable for engine compartment measurements, transmissions, exhaust and brake noise tests. “Our customers have been asking for a robust, dependable and precise microphone set that is tailor-made for automotive testing, and we have listened. The 146AE is the only automotive microphone that can deliver accurate data – even when measuring under the most extreme conditions.”

Another exciting development came from Mustang Advanced Engineering, which launched its latest digital dynamometer controller, the MAE-DAC32. The DAC32 is a 32-bit, 80MHz microcontroller with 512kb of flash memory and 128kb static RAM, plus various sensor/control inputs and outputs.

The system is capable of >1kHz closed-loop control and communications and can easily control four coordinated control axes/loops on a test stand. If additional coordinated axes/loops are required, two controllers can be tied together via a dedicated controller-to-controller CAN interface to expand the coordinated control loops to eight-axis and twice the I/O listed above. The microcontroller firmware can be infield updated via an Ethernet bootloader/flash update utility. Donald Ganzhorn, VP of Mustang Advanced Engineering, said, “Mustang AE currently deploys the DAC32 on various test stands including chassis dynamometers and engine dynamometers, and the system is available as an alternative to older, outdated controllers.”

Finally, Humanetics announced that it is in the process of relocating its headquarters to an upgraded, expanded, modern facility in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The new base is situated 10 miles north of the former location in Plymouth. It comprises more than 100,000ft2 of total floor space, with room for additional growth. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with brand-new, flexible, ergonomic workstations with multi-media spaces to foster improved collaboration. A dozen conference rooms with the latest communication tools are designed to further cultivate global team building and inspire new ideas.

“Employees will now have access to an on-site fitness center, cafes and a jogging/biking trail surrounded by green landscapes,” commented Christopher J O’Connor, president and CEO, Humanetics. “By pushing the boundaries of the possibilities, we hope the headquarters will be the new home for a diverse range of future engineers, software developers, technicians and more.”

Great expectations

Visitors to Automotive Testing Expo in Novi, Michigan were united in their praise of the diversity of products on display, as well as the networking opportunities that the expo presented.

Jacob Frank, a design engineer at Superior Diesel in Wisconsin, said: “This is the first time I’ve attended. My company is getting into data acquisition and engineering and measurement processes and it’s been extremely valuable for furthering our connections.”

Other visitors, such as Bill Blomquist, a powertrain engineer at FCA, had their eyes on various technologies to help with their test needs: “I ran into a beautiful facility that I didn’t know existed out of Texas, run by Continental Proving Grounds, and maybe we can leverage that. It’s interesting: you don’t know what you’re going to find until you start looking, and this is a great place to look.”

Kurt Reichelderfer, project manager, Toyota Motor North America, said, “I came here for EV research and test equipment. It was great getting to meet with some of the suppliers that are looking at both component-level and complete vehicle-level test equipment. There was definitely some very interesting HIL bench-type work going on.”

Exhibitors were equally pleased with the quality of the event and of those in attendance. “This year there were more exhibitors, which brought in more visitors and goes to show how well business in Detroit is doing right now,” said Andy Cogbill, national sales manager, IMV America. “We got some solid leads, which included people who had not heard of IMV previously.”

Mitch Cohen, regional sales director, Teledyne LeCroy, also found the show to be beneficial: “All of our customers visit the expo, so it’s a great opportunity to meet with them and expose our new technologies to support their designs. This year’s show was amazing for us. We spoke with over 400 visitors in the first two days and had plenty of fruitful discussions.”

Likewise, Kevin Westhora, director of sales, Dytran Instruments, commented on why the company returns each year: “Automotive Testing Expo is the number one show for us – we exhibit every year. It’s the most effective and the most important because everyone in the business attends. This year was very well attended. In fact we had a record number of visitors – in the first two days we scanned over 310 people. It was just tremendous.”

November 1, 2017

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About Author


John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive, marine and entertainment divisions. Currently editor of Automotive Testing Technology International, Crash Test Technology International and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as co-chairman of the annual Electric & Hybrid Marine Awards and can be found sniffing out stories throughout the halls of several of UKI's industry-leading expo events.

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