Millbrook uses real-time remote technology to allow type approval witnessing engineers and customers to observe tests and perform their duties without physically attending its sites. This has enabled development and certification timelines to be adhered to despite travel restrictions and practically demonstrates the viability of these technologies for making more efficient use of time and resources in the future.
Type approval test programmes can take half a day or run for several months; some of the shorter programmes at Millbrook in recent weeks have included tyre, noise and crash type approvals, while the more complex included emissions certifications for hybrid vehicle technology. Delivering these through the current pandemic while maintaining safety and security has required flexibility and determination from everyone involved.
Millbrook’s test engineers have had to find new ways of working in order to support their customers. This has enabled them to demonstrate the level of autonomy that test teams can work to and to demonstrate that customers do not necessarily have to dedicate a lot of their own internal resources to deliver complex certification programmes when testing at Millbrook.
Alex Burns, President of Millbrook, said: “We have the technology to progress concepts virtually, to make communications seamless and to streamline development programmes. We are learning from this crisis and improving how we operate so that we are better able to support our customers and the industries that we serve in the long-term.”
Adapting quickly, in many cases within days of lock-down announcements, in order to keep programmes on-track has presented many challenges. Millbrook’s test teams work hard to ensure that customers and approval authorities can see exactly what they need to see during a test – they switch between live feeds from multiple static and mobile cameras and screens and have developed new operating protocols to maintain confidentiality at all times. The remote meetings are scheduled in advance, without relying on customer and certification agency engineers to be on-site and on-hand at all times, so teams have to manage additional micro-deadlines throughout a test programme.
Simon Flood, Engineer – Propulsion at Millbrook, said: “We were using real-time remote technologies for engine strip and rate programmes long before the pandemic struck, enabling customers to see high-definition close-up footage of their components and speak to the test engineer at the same time. This has been very valuable experience, which gave us a head start.”
Millbrook’s ability to adapt and put appropriate processes in place quickly has meant that vehicles could be approved and start production on schedule, in some cases as planned months before the pandemic. The new ways of working can also continue in the future, bringing multiple benefits to everyone involved in terms of improved efficiency, reduced travel costs and reduced environmental impact. Customers can be involved in certification and development test programmes, interact with test engineers and get data in real time on a daily basis without physically being present on site, with many positive implications.
Chris Polmear, Principal Engineer at Millbrook, said: “This is now a standard and regular mode of operating across many areas within Millbrook. It has become predominant because of COVID-19, but there is no reason why it can’t continue going forward. The ability to view tests remotely gives customers so many more options. We can even stream vehicle data, GPS and video, in real time while driving around the test tracks.”
Kieran Forinton, Chief Engineer – Safety at Millbrook, said: “We have completed over 20 type approval authority witnessed full-scale crash tests in the last month. We work with customers from many countries, so this way of working makes certification programmes much easier and cost-effective for everyone involved – there is no need to arrange travel and flights. A customer or authority engineer can view the test remotely and get on with the rest of their day.”
Tobe Kehrwieder, Battery System Engineer at e.Go Moove GmbH said: “The video witnessing organized by Millbrook Proving Ground was efficient for all participating parties. Requests for new camera angles and close-ups were fulfilled wherever possible. All data and reports have been shared via Cloud within a day. Data quality of videos and pictures of shared data was excellent.”
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