Hannover, Germany – Precise and consistent are how Stefan Heine, head of testing for indoor braking, described the biggest benefit of Continental AIBA (Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer) to Lou Ann Hammond, CEO, www.drivingthenation.com.
Right outside the indoor facility is the old rusted track that thousands of cars have traveled over to test the braking parameters of all of Continental new tires. The old way of testing required Continental employees to stand outside during the snow and rain and monitor how quickly the tires could stop. If you stand out in the rain and snow and humidity long enough you can start thinking of better ways to do these tests. The challenge is convincing your bosses to spend millions of dollars to put a new system in place.
The testing group at Contidrom, Continental test track outside of their Hannover, Germany headquarters created a system that was so superior to the old way that the international jury of the Vehicle Dynamics Innovation Award 2013 (V.D.I. Award) has recognized Continental new, weather-independent AIBA tire testing facility in the category “Development Tool of the Year”. The indoor test track is heavily patented and, as of November 2012, it is the first facility in the world that tests with precision.
The new facility at Contidrom’s test track is 300 meters long and 30 meters wide. The fully automated process allows testing to be done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, no matter what the weather is like outside. The principle is the same as the outside test, Continental connects a car (the same car each time for consistency) to a rail. The car gets to a certain speed and then brakes as fast as it can. That measurement is taken and put on the car label.
The precision with which the test is done is the key difference. The temperature inside the building is set, the amount of water on the surface is constant.
The new testing facility will be able to test the braking characteristics of up to 100,000 tires a year on dry, wet, and icy road surfaces all year round.
Is Continental going to replicate this testing facility in other areas?