Yesterday Audi opened up a brand new engine test facility in Neckarsulm, Germany, for doing development and durability testing of their powerplants. The new facility is equipped with nineteen new dynamometer cells that are capable of running gasoline, diesel or racing engines. The lab has forty employees working on two shifts and it has been acoustically engineered to limit the disturbance to the surrounding area. The new test cells are large enough to provide plenty of work space for the technicians and engineers as well installing the complete original exhaust systems on the engines. With the emissions and fuel economy requirements being placed on new cars, getting accurate test results is critical. When running up to nineteen engines at a time, a lot of power is being generated and this new facility is recapturing it from the dynamometers to provide electricity for the test facility and the neighboring assembly plant.

[Source: Audi]
Neckarsulm, 2008-03-13

New engine testing centre networks Audi sites

  • Neckarsulm has one of the most state-of-the-art facilities
  • Engine testing conducted to the very highest technical level
  • New facility fulfils the most stringent environmental standards

On Thursday, March 13, 2008, following a successfully completed test run, the new engine testing centre at Audi's Neckarsulm site was officially inaugurated. In future, the development activities of the Group's various plants will also become even more closely interlinked courtesy of 19 state-of-the-art engine test rigs. The engine testing centre, the only one of its kind, allows engine tests to be conducted for all of the different brands within the Volkswagen Group. Intensive function and endurance tests are carried out to ensure that the high standards expected of the engines are fulfilled. At the same time, the facility also complies with all environmental standards.

With a total of 19 new test rigs, the engine testing centre in Neckarsulm will be one of the most sophisticated and innovative engine testing facilities in the entire automotive industry. The €42 million invested in the five-storey building and in testing technology is clear testimony to the tremendous importance of the Technical Development division at the Neckarsulm plant, AUDI AG's second major site in Germany. Following the start-up of the engine test rigs, the centre for engine testing has now been officially inaugurated in a special ceremony. Participating at the event were members of the Board of Management of AUDI AG and Ernst Pfister, Minister of Economic Affairs for Baden-Württemberg.

"The outstanding market position that AUDI AG has is courtesy of our highly competent team. With the new engine testing centre, we have created the perfect conditions for further extending our technological leadership," emphasised Michael Dick, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Technical Development. He added that as can be seen from the company's current figures, customers appreciate what Audi has achieved. But the new building is not just a valuable addition in the eyes of the development staff – Neckarsulm Plant Manager Jürgen Lunemann likewise sees the new facility as reinforcing the site's status within the Group: "The new engine testing centre represents a milestone for Audi's Technical Development division in Neckarsulm. The new facility will enable us to deploy our technical expertise here even more efficiently in future."

For Norbert Rank, Chairman of the Works Council in Neckarsulm, the ultra-modern construction project has created an excellent working environment for employees: "The skilled team now has an excellent basis for further consolidating its top-ranking position in the field of engine know-how." He points out that, besides the fascinating design of vehicles from Audi, the wide-ranging and performance-oriented engine line-up also has a great deal to do with the brand's success.

Ernst Pfister, Minister of Economic Affairs for Baden-Württemberg, was clearly delighted with AUDI AG's commitment to its Baden-Württemberg factory, saying: "I value this investment as strong evidence of your dedication to the Neckarsulm plant," before going on to comment how the new engine testing centre, one of the most sophisticated and innovative of its type anywhere in the world, would provide a long-term safeguard for top-class jobs.

The purpose of the engine testing centre is to test and optimise engine parameters such as fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and endurance under conditions that are both as realistic as possible and exactly reproducible.

Function and endurance tests performed to the very highest standards

In future, it will be possible to test petrol, diesel and motor sport engines under constant ambient conditions on the new test rigs. The engines must undergo endurance tests lasting up to 1,000 hours, corresponding to around 150,000 kilometres of driving. The units are put through their paces at a constant temperature of approximately 25 degrees Celsius. The engine testing centre's primary new feature is the facility for customising test procedures. "Thanks to the new testing apparatus we are able to reproduce all manner of different test conditions. This allows us to test engines under identical conditions, ensuring comparable test results," explained Martin Reichle, Head of the Neckarsulm engine testing centre.

Also new is the design of the test cells with their freely accessible inspection pit areas, making them ideal from a maintenance point of view. As Reichle pointed out: "This enables the cooling systems that need to be deployed flexibly for the power units to be placed close to the engines."
In the new engine testing centre it will for the first time be possible to set up engines together with the original exhaust system, which was not the case in the old facility due to the restricted space available in the test cells. Whereas the engines previously had to be fed to the test rigs from the road outside, the employees working in the new testing centre are now able to transport the engines to the test rigs along a wide corridor inside the building. "This means that the engine tests will no longer be subject to the influence of the changing weather conditions and the seasons," remarked project head Peter Tremel.

In order to guarantee the high performance and build quality of the Audi engines, the durability and thermal stability of the test "subjects" are examined. The power output map is likewise fine-tuned for the different engine variants, as are the emission and fuel consumption values. The building's equipment is coordinated and monitored by means of a software that is one of a kind. The MSR system makes it possible for the engineers to visualise and check all process variables, especially those of the building's technical apparatus.

Compliance with most stringent environmental standards

For the first time, it will be possible to transform the kinetic energy generated by the engine over the course of testing into electrical energy in the new engine testing centre. The principle is similar to that of a dynamo on a bicycle: the crankshaft of the engine on the test rig drives a generator which in turn produces the energy. "This form of energy conversion allows electrical energy to be fed back into the plant's power supply for reuse," explained Peter Tremel.

Quite apart from this, the building's acoustic emissions have been cut too. "The start-up of the new engine testing centre brings about a substantial reduction in the level of sound propagation into neighbouring residential areas," clarified Bernd Martin, Environmental Officer at the Neckarsulm plant.

During planning of the engine testing centre, careful consideration was also given to the 40 employees working in the building. Every workstation in the new facility receives natural light, a factor which has a most positive impact on the working atmosphere.

Networking of development activities too

Since autumn 2007, the plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm have been interlinked on the production side: the "turntable" as it is known ensures uniform utilisation of production capacity for the new Audi A4. Following the inauguration of the engine testing centre, the two plants will now be even more closely networked on the development side too. The upshot of this is that function and quality tests can now be conducted on all engines developed within the Group on the test rigs in Neckarsulm. The company is therefore responding to the continual expansion of the engine range and the intensifying demand from customers for ultra-efficient, low-consumption engines.

The state-of-the-art engine test facility will also mean that increasing numbers of employees from throughout the Group will be coming to the Neckarsulm site to attend training courses. As Martin Reichle explained: "Through this networking, we are able to transfer know-how company-wide and encourage knowledge sharing."

Facts and figures: the engine testing centre at a glance

Investment

€42 million

Personnel

Test rigs

Engine tests p.a.

40 working in a two-shift pattern

19

Approx. 1,600

Building

Length

Width

Height

3,200 m2 of floor space

78.20 m

42.28 m

28.15 m

Start of project

February 2004

Topping-out ceremony

Test operation

September 2, 2005

From March 2007



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