More than 310 international exhibitors came together to showcase their latest innovations, product launches, service enhancements and customer case studies at Automotive Testing Expo North America 2023 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan, with at least 90 more at the adjoining Automotive Interiors Expo North America. Running from October 24-26, 2023, the show was a resounding success, providing attendees with a three-day platform for networking, solution sourcing and intelligence, all in one place. Exhibitors reported that many fruitful discussions were had. Overall, attendees relished the opportunity to connect face to face with partners, many of whom had not done so since before Covid.
One thing was clear to see: the industry is becoming more and more receptive to new partnerships, combinations of technologies and alternative approaches to traditional applications. As the sector transitions into electrification and automation, industry players are working collaboratively to tackle the challenges that come with this – with developments in areas such as battery testing, data acquisition, ADAS analysis, simulation and modeling, test automation, combined passive and active safety evaluation and acoustic measurement, to name a few. Exhibitors and visitors alike were keen to express their excitement about these powerful synergies emerging among suppliers and OEMs.
More specifically, highlights included a new oscilloscope for electric vehicle R&D; a next-generation test automation controller; the announcement of a new US$27m drivetrain test and calibration facility in the USA; and an introduction to the latest updates to the Thor-5F ATD.
The free-to-attend Technology Presentation Stage took place alongside the show. The three presenters who drew the largest audiences were David Gallop, business development manager at Dewesoft, who discussed the influence of human operators on testing; Nils Röttger, CTO at Blueberry, who spoke about the latest updates to the company’s openDAQ standardized device and communication interface; and Abi Ostipow, solutions specialist – test and data management at dSpace and Kiran Devarasetty, global systems validation manager at Dana Incorporated, who presented a unique test automation case study for verification and validation.
For more details, read on.
Unico showcased its new 7100 series battery cell testing solution. The company believes the system to be revolutionary as it takes advantage of the latest SiC and GaN technology, enabling a power density approximately three times that of traditional cyclers, in a smaller footprint.
Michael Nolan, who is Unico’s business development director – battery test, stated at the expo, “I believe it is the first solution of its kind to use GaN technology. By doing so, we have created a system that offers high-accuracy voltage and current measurement in a compact package, plus it has built-in waveform capturing.”
In a nutshell, the 7100 series integrates a SiC power stage for the active front end and a DC output GaN stage. As the lower DC voltage stage, GaN technology has a faster switching performance – up to 10 times faster than SiC – and a smaller package size – up to 10 times smaller with greater efficiency. Utilizing this technology, the 7100 series provides the highest density on channel count and an overall efficiency of 95%.
Right before the show, Unico secured several orders from large OEMs. Nolan said that the team had also had promising discussions in Novi about the 7100 series. “We have had tremendous feedback on the advantages of the system, in both an R&D environment and high-volume production where space is paramount.”
First-time exhibitor Uni-Trend Technology showcased its new MSO2204-S oscilloscope, which is designed to observe the output waveforms of motor inverters to ensure efficient power conversion and control. Engineers can use it to analyze motor current and voltage waveforms for performance evaluation and fault detection.
Pete Stoermer, the company’s national sales director for North America, noted, “Oscilloscopes, DC power supplies, spectrum analyzers and waveform generators are essential tools in the research and development of electric vehicle performance analysis. They help engineers and researchers monitor, analyze and troubleshoot various electrical signals and waveforms in EV systems.”
On display at Mecalc’s booth was the latest addition to the company’s QuantusSeries product line – the DECAQ data acquisition system. The technology introduces numerous new features that make it more flexible and dynamic.
Cara Klintworth-Watt, president of Mecalc, was on hand at the show and said that versatility is at the heart of the DECAQ, with various sizes and configurations available to cater to different analysis scenarios. That includes, for instance, synchronized field measurements with smart cabling solutions or a robust rack-mounted system for test cells.
“Evolving requirements have made interchangeable and upgradable I/O modules a necessary philosophy for the QuantusSeries,” she commented.
A game-changer is the QServer RESTful interface bundled with the DECAQ. This enables multiple software applications to operate seamlessly on a single platform, enhancing workflow productivity like never before. The system is accessible in C++, C#, Python and Matlab with a simple set of commands to set it up, so users can quickly integrate and subscribe to measurement channels and read data.
“DECAQ also lets you seamlessly switch between various software apps, including PAK from Müller-BBM, Artemis Suite from Head Acoustics, Microflown and many more – all on a single system,” explained Klintworth-Watt.
Methodica Technologies revealed its ongoing endeavor to obtain functional safety certification for its HIL automation system, the Independent Test Automation Platform (ITAP). This ambitious move is poised to not only elevate Methodica’s standing but also bolster customer confidence in ITAP.
ITAP is said to be a cornerstone of the hardware-in-the-loop evaluation process. It empowers engineers to craft test scripts and diagnose the software of ECUs. The imminent acquisition of functional safety certification underlines Methodica’s commitment to quality and reliability, making ITAP an even more trusted asset for testing and evaluation.
Vikram Verma, Methodica’s global director, elaborated on the capabilities of ITAP at the show. He highlighted the platform’s versatility, explaining that a single probe can connect multiple devices, automatically detecting them and enabling the creation of up to 16 diverse HIL setups. ITAP functions as an “ingenious playground” for engineers, he said, offering a flexible configuration environment.
Chief engineer Manikanth Chamblitbmar emphasized the significance of the functional safety certification, stating, “In obtaining this functional safety certification, it instills tool confidence – and we always have this in mind as we develop the platform.” The certification marks a significant leap forward in ensuring the safety and reliability of automotive testing processes.
Humanetics presented the updates it has made to the Thor-5F ATD to enhance the dummy’s durability and usability. The refinements, which are being prepared for official release, focus primarily on the thorax region, addressing durability concerns in the severe test region that were reported by NHTSA. Humanetics has worked closely with the safety test organization to make these adjustments.
“The THOR-5F is small so there isn’t a lot of room inside, which means that when it is impacted, damage can occur,” said Breanna Greenlees, the company’s ATD engineering manager. “As such, we removed as much material as possible internally to eliminate contact. We have also updated the ribs of the dummy to resolve an issue we were seeing with permanent deformation.”
According to Greenlees, the bio-fidelity of the thorax has been re-evaluated and Humanetics has been able to demonstrate that it has maintained a good bio-rank.
“We have resolved issues that have been seen across the board, so people are happy to see that we’ve made these improvements and they are more comfortable that the dummy is ready for regulation,” she said.
Drivetrain analysis specialist Atesteo revealed that the commissioning process for its first test center in North America has just begun. Situated in East Lansing, Michigan, the 3,250m2 testing and calibration facility is worth US$27m. According to the president of Atesteo North America, Roy M Schulde, many of Atesteo’s current customers have operations in the USA and had asked if the company would consider setting up a resource in the region.
Preparations to open the North American hub began in December 2022. Now Atesteo has revealed that it is in the final stages of commissioning the initial test bench. At full capacity there will be 24 test rigs for the analysis of electric motors, inverters, hybrid drives and e-axles for the passenger car, light and heavy truck and rail vehicle segments.
Schulde said, “We are bringing the facility online in two phases. Phase 1 will involve 11 test benches. We will then evaluate customer demand to determine what we do in Phase 2. Market requirements keep increasing, with higher torque, power, voltages, etc, and we want to ensure the equipment is state of the art, so we have designed the facility to be flexible.”
Also available at the site are environmental simulation climatic chambers and a calibration laboratory. All test benches are equipped with DC controllers with a power of up to 650kW, 1,000V and 1,000A.”
For more highlights from this year’s event, click here. Next year’s show will take place October 22, 23, 24 at the Suburban Collection Showplace– save the dates now!
Dr Ben Shank, senior staff scientist at Thermotron: “The expo is an opportunity to network with others in the industry, learn about best practices and new solutions, and discuss specific testing problems with a wide range of experts.”
Cara Klintworth-Watt, president of Mecalc: “This year we are reaching out to innovators in the industry; whether that is long-term partners or new ones, we’re here to foster collaboration, share knowledge and explore opportunities for growth. It’s wonderful being here connecting with partners and showcasing our latest releases to the market. We have noticed that the industry is becoming more open to new hardware and software combinations, and that is evident also from our conversations here at the show.”
Ed Okorn, president at Scantek: “Automotive Testing Expo is a great opportunity to freely discuss new solutions and technology directly with the automotive design and test engineers. We look forward to showcasing several new and innovative vibroacoustic-based solutions to support the success of the automotive industry.”
Roy M Schulde, president of Atesteo North America: “This year’s show is especially exciting because we are launching this facility, which is only an hour away. It’s a great opportunity to meet with current as well as prospective customers. We’ve spoken to customers that have already put in RFQs and we’ve met some potential new ones.”
Greg Kregoski, automotive business development manager at Anritsu Takasago, “It’s been a positive experience. We’ve had lots of interest and the lead quality has been good. Generally, we can meet with everybody we need to, which is convenient.”
Mohammad Behroozi, senior vehicle dynamicist, General Motors, “At Automotive Testing Expo, I found myself in a dynamic showcase of cutting-edge technology, bringing together a diverse array of companies. The show provided an exclusive glimpse into the latest innovations. The extensive reach and impact of the expo across industries was impressive, serving as a reminder to me as an OEM engineer how these innovations in tools and equipment significantly contribute to the vehicles that our customers drive.”
“This is my second year here and I’m really enjoying it. I’m currently working in ADAS and it’s great to meet with people from the companies that supply the products we use. I was also an NVH engineer for around 20 years so it’s interesting to see the developments in that area as well, even though I am not working in that arena anymore. I encourage anyone who’s interested to attend.” – Steve Dworack, ADAS development engineer, Ford Motor Company
“There are a lot of vendors at the expo, which means I can really get a feel for much of the different instrumentation, vehicle testing equipment and sensor developments – accompanied by a lot of information. I encourage anyone who is thinking of attending to do so.” – Adam Abass, ADAS engineer, Ford Motor Company
“It’s good to see all the latest automotive testing and validation technologies – they change so frequently that it’s useful to see the improvements that have been made. We attended this year predominantly for the DTS innovation room as we work very closely with them; it’s great to check in on other solutions as well as possible new suppliers. I would highly recommend attending – there’s a diversity of technologies here that fit into a wide range of automotive applications and a lot of helpful individuals to put questions to.” – Kenzie King, test support engineer, ZF
“It’s great that the show is here in Detroit, the automotive hub of the world. It’s good to see the variety of technologies and it is fascinating seeing how many different companies are involved in automotive today. I’ve been with Chrysler for four decades, based here in Detroit, working in emissions testing. It’s great to meet with people with whom I’ve been in the industry for a long time. One also appreciates being able to walk around and see what changes are happening.” – Kevin Ohlrogge, engine calibration engineer, Stellantis
“Data acquisition systems are changing; being here at the show will help us to remain at the forefront and give us a view of what’s coming around the corner so we can understand how we’re going to integrate with it. The fact that the show is in Detroit is important – a vast amount of testing is still done in this area. You’re able to get a hands-on feel for it here. It’s one of the few places you can meet with all the suppliers in one space, and being in this niche industry, that isn’t very common so it’s good to be able to meet with like-minded individuals and get a grasp on what the industry is up to.” – Joshua Schroder, senior ADT technician, ZF
“Keysight has been attending Automotive Testing Expo for over 10 years. It gives us an opportunity to meet lots of customers in one setting, collect new business leads and do demos of our test solutions in action,” – Steve Mango, automotive market industry manager, Keysight Technologies
“This show is unique in that it’s concentrated on testing and validation technology for the automotive industry. Xylon is a regular exhibitor. We understand the value of digital marketing, but we believe that communication in person is irreplaceable, and that’s why we come – to exchange ideas with fellow colleagues. We believe that open and friendly communication often leads to business opportunities. Every year we meet potential new customers from the Tier 1s and OEMs. Visitors have an opportunity to see our technologies in action – and this often leads to closed deals. We highly recommend the show. There is an ongoing confidence in parallel with a lot of high-quality content.” – Gordan Galic, technical marketing director, Xylon
“Detroit remains the heart of the automotive development industry – all the big players are here. This is where the development is taking place so we know we’re going to reach all of the market here. The show provides a center point with a myriad of testing and development technologies to see – it’s the place to come. Every year we bring examples of our products so we can demonstrate those to the individuals who matter. It’s the biggest US show we do every year and would never miss it.” – Dave Gallop, application engineer/business development manager, Dewesoft
“Automotive Testing Expo North America is always a productive experience for us. We can bring our new technologies and engage with the automotive ecosystem in the Detroit area to understand feedback. It’s a very healthy exchange of information. These insights are captured and fed into our roadmap. We can meet with new customers and prospective ones.” – Ram Mirwani, senior group manager, Rohde & Schwarz
“DTS is really proud to be one of the original exhibitors at Automotive Testing Expo. It is one of the key shows we attend. We can talk directly with the engineers who are doing the testing. In addition to that, it’s a chance to share the innovations we’re working on. As the show is centrally located for our customers, it’s an opportunity to meet with them all in one place.” – Shelly Horvath, marketing manager, DTS