New freezer test facilities at Smithers Michigan facility

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Smithers, a provider of testing, consulting, information and compliance services, has announced new freezer capacity at its Smithers Winter Test Center (SWTC) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The addition consists of two Reefer trailers that have been outfitted to maintain temperatures as low as -30°F (-34°C) and which are both spacious enough to accommodate two large passenger vehicles or light trucks at a time.

The company said that demand for freezer testing is growing among automotive OEMs and tier suppliers working to develop batteries and specialty components for electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicle technology is developing very quickly, and there are still some unknowns with regard to how they function in extreme cold,” said Dr Jim Popio, vice president of operations, North America, materials science and engineering, Smithers. “We made this investment to help our clients deepen their understanding of how their EV technology performs at low temperatures and maintain a competitive edge in the market.”

Smithers has located the freezers at the head of a 4500ft paved asphalt two-lane roadway. The setup allows clients to drive vehicles straight out of the trailer and immediately attempt acceleration and braking maneuvers to determine how driving performance is affected by extreme cold.

“In addition to batteries, extreme cold can impact fluids and mechanical components within a vehicle,” said Sean Connolly, general manager of the Smithers Winter Test Center. “With this setup, you can quickly assess whether the vehicle is starting smoothly, and all components and fluids are operating correctly. Clients can also measure low temperature properties of tires, such as flat spotting and brittleness.”

Smithers said it has also invested in a new direct-current high-speed charging station on-site to increase efficiency for customers who are testing electric vehicles. The ChargePoint Express 250 DC Fast Charging Station can charge two vehicles at a time and delivers 75% of battery capacity in about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, testing specialist Polytec has opened a new facility in Plymouth, Michigan. In addition to labs for vibration testing, surface metrology, acoustics, speed and length, and chemical analysis, the company said its new facility also offers the latest generation RoboVib Structural Test Station. This is used for automated experimental modal analysis, and is capable of testing intricate and complex components as well as entire vehicle bodies.

Polytec said that all labs are equipped with cameras and communications equipment for live demonstrations and online collaboration.

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