Increasing electrification of traditionally mechanically-driven components in the automotive industry has been visible in many segments of the vehicle subsystems, such as lubrication circuits and cooling circuits. Some of the components include electric oil pumps, electric water pumps, electric coolant valves, etc. As the parts evolve from purely mechanical components to a combination of mechanical and electronic hardware, the methods used to validate the components have also evolved.
To test these components, the equipment needs to be able to simulate both environmental (air) temperature and humidity, as well as the fluid temperature. In pressurized coolant circuits, temperatures as high as +135°C are required, whereas in lubrication systems oil temperatures as high as +150°C need to be achieved. On the low end, temperatures as low as -40°C are required for both. Rates of change vary depending on the required tests, but can be anywhere between 1-15°C/min average.
Many of the test standards used today for validating the durability of the electrified automotive components originated from the electronics industry. In the electronics industry, the traditional approach has been the use of thermal chambers to create the desired ambient conditions for temperature and humidity. To a large extent, the industry so far has adopted the use of this equipment as well and tried to leverage its performance capabilities in the standard form.
One of the challenges with transferring this test approach to automotive components is the fact that these parts make use of fluids as well. This means that in addition to validating the device under test, supporting systems are needed to recreate the conditions that these parts would see in the field (system pressure, circuit resistance, etc). As thermal chambers are designed to be able to regulate the temperature of air inside a specific volume, the introduction of any additional hardware adds two main layers of complexity: the added thermal inertia that has to be heated/cooled, and the low heat exchange power due to air acting as a heat transfer medium.
The first challenge affects the chamber’s ability to meet the advertised rates of change. The second challenge affects the ability to control the fluid temperature at a rate that is comparable to the air temperature.
The second challenge has resulted in the use of low-temperature mechanical refrigeration chillers. These devices are used in tandem with thermal chambers, but are used specifically for being able to control the temperature of the fluid. This equipment usually carries a very high capital cost, as well as a long lead time.
Control and data acquisition systems are needed to control these units, as well as interfacing with the device under test, which increases the complexity. There is no guarantee that when all these components are put together that they will operate properly as a system.
ATA Horai™ technology was developed to solve these challenges, by optimizing the subsystems required to deliver the test results. Ensure™ is designed to meet the test standards for components in the most efficient way possible.
Horai’s technology is built into our Ensure test systems. The centralized control eliminates the need for interfaces with each individual piece of equipment, and their dedicated controllers. This reduces control software effort and complexity. It eliminates redundancy and additional overhead of multiple electrical panels, frame structures, protective enclosures, etc.
Horai™ is a technology that enables automotive Tier-1 suppliers and OEMs to efficiently validate and verify new electrification components for lubrication or thermal management without the costs, delays and misses that come from a custom engineered or home-brewed test system. It is a dedicated solution, rather than a combination of generic tools.
As a result, ATA’s solution has yielded the following benefits:
More effective fluid temperature ramp rate, enabling faster testing
More devices-under-test in the machine, enabling more throughput
Reduced footprint with the integrated solution, allows for better use of test facility floorspace
Service and support is centralized, as there is no need to reach out to multiple manufacturers based on which part of the system is not behaving as expected.
Same system for heating and cooling; no risk to damaging mechanical refrigeration hardware when heating.