The automotive industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace as global regulations change, consumer demand for advanced testing technologies increases, and the Asia Pacific automotive market expands exponentially with the flourishing populations of China and India. This demand for a quiet ride is driving automotive testing requirements – boosting the need for high-performance testing equipment, including Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH) testing. NVH test equipment ensures a sellable product, free of gear mesh inaccuracies that may result in premature wear, vibration, axle whine, knicks-clicks or harsh noises that may disturb either the occupants of the cab.
Burke Porter Group (BPG), a leading global supplier of intelligent testing, instrumentation and assembly systems, has a strong background in automotive testing since its beginnings in the early 1950s. The company entered into powertrain testing 17 years ago with a focus on NVH testing as a facet to their capabilities. Since then, it has evolved with the industry to remain a leader, while also keeping pace with new startups in the space.
BPG brands Epic Equipment and Engineering, Burke E. Porter Machinery Company (BEPCO) and Titan, Inc., provide customized automotive assembly & testing solutions, including the most advanced NVH automotive powertrain test equipment on the market. For example, Epic Equipment, acquired in 2015, has extensive experience designing and implementing automotive powertrain assembly and test equipment, including NVH testing.
“With a standardized design, whether the bolts are being tightened in the U.S. or Europe, the customer at the end will receive the same machine,” Sikowski said. “Customers also want to work with a company that is loyal – with consistent, accurate and repeatable success.”
In contrast, startups don’t have the same global footprint or extensive manufacturing experience, according to Sikowski.
“Almost anyone can build a machine that works, but the trick is whether you can keep it working 3,000 miles away from where it was built,” he said.
To that end, BPG involves the customer each step of the way, with multiple teams working with designers and providing field support, ensuring that the machines continue to operate as designed and customers are fully trained on the equipment.
NVH test customers may use a scorecard to evaluate the following technical factors:
· Can the machine repeat?
· Can the machine repeat with multiple fixtures and parts?
· Can the machine correlate to other machines running the same parts, in another factory?
For example, BPG’s patented reactive coupling process on part and run trials can determine the sweet spot in individual parts. Making sure the buildup of a part between distance and eliminating looseness or compression means getting most repeatable results from these testing machines.
In addition to technical factors, customers evaluate competing machines to determine the lowest price and fastest delivery time.
Flexible, future-proof machines
BPG solutions cater to a client’s need for flexibility in the face of rapidly evolving regulations and shifting consumer demands.
“Our machines and tooling are engineered with flexibility in mind. Whether you’re running a PTU and need to incorporate an RDM, or vice-versa, our machines can handle that by our design methods. Pre-machined, bases, easy to change fixtures and tooling, and flexible adaptors are a few key points we incorporate for future product. Automatic pinion height, quick change drive tooling, and other machine enhancements can be installed at the time of original order or years down the road. By keeping the customer’s need for adding a future product into our machines, we have designed what we consider the most flexible machines in the industry,” Sikowski said.
BPG machines also are pre-manufactured to adjust and reconfigure for necessary changes, and can be broken apart and added to other parts, so that machines which fit into current testing environments can evolve with future designs.
“This adaptability shows a huge ROI for customers, who never need to worry about getting rid of machines,” he said.
Outlook for NVH equipment
Supplying NVH machines can open doors for more products and machines for the current Burke Porter Group customer base, Sikowski said.
For example, the recent acquisition of Titan, Inc. in 2018 plays into BPG’s long-term goals to grow its powertrain and NVH testing capabilities. Titan’s expertise in assembly and test equipment for tractors, trucks, off-highway, mining, and construction vehicles can provide new opportunities for assembly & test equipment with an untapped global customer base.
OEMs may see this as an opportunity to grow their existing technology and capabilities as well increase efficiency. For example, in the future, they could develop full assembly lines for Caterpillar, John Deere, Turk Tractor, and Agricultural Machinery Corporation, as well as construction and other off-highway applications.