Issue: Jul 2005


Cut costs by testing vehicles in South Africa



South Africa has established itself as a testing centre for the world’s vehicles, with sophisticated facilities at both sea level and high altitude.

South Africa has established itself as a testing centre for the world’s vehicles, with sophisticated facilities at both sea level and high altitude.
“The primary advantages of testing in South Africa are the corresponding level of technology coupled with adequate capacity and competitive pricing. In some areas, especially in vehicle endurance testing, we can render the same service at far less cost because of the lower salaries and the exchange rate. Our lower traffic densities mean we can accumulate mileage more quickly and more safely,” says the Eurotype Test Centre’s managing director Jelena Janjic.
Eurotype has the advantage of being able to offer validation of a complete vehicle through access to high speed test track (120mph to 150mph capability) and high altitude road systems within easy reach of each other. “We have access, through co-operative agreement, to Gerotek (120mph and roads in the Gauteng area. We can also test under high temperature conditions (up to 45ºC near Upington) or accommodate rapid changes in altitude (various passes in Eastern Cape or Mpumalanga)
The centre, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), was established to conduct exhaust emission testing for export models for East London-based DaimlerChrysler SA and BMW SA, which has an assembly plant in Pretoria.
Although the initial focus of the facility was exhaust emission testing, to the requirements of the EEC/ECE/EU, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Japanese Ministry of Transport, demand from its clients has led to the introduction of additional services. “As well as emission testing, Eurotype conducts vehicle drive-by noise tests, again to internationally legislated procedures,” she says. The testing is done on a purpose-built track adjacent to the centre’s Pretoria laboratories. state-of-the-art equipment was sourced from America to measure vehicle noise levels. With this equipment it is possible to conduct static (idling) tests, as well as drive-by tests at both constant speed and under full acceleration. The system measures not only noise levels, but also engine speed, throttle position and road speed, and relays this data by means of transceivers to the host computer.
Further opportunities resulted in the purchase of a containerised engine test system, capable of running up to 8 500RPM and absorbing 400kW. With this equipment, Eurotype is able to conduct a wide variety of engine testing on behalf of OEM's, engine rebuilders or parts manufacturers.
The testing facilities are proving popular with OEMs. “We have facilities and equipment that is on par with emission labs in Europe, with well-trained and experienced personnel. We are extremely flexible, and run single tests or a complete project with minimal notice. For overseas clients, we are away from prying eyes, and could thus test sensitive prototype models. We have good contact with the laboratories in Germany, and can always call on their expertise should it be needed,” she says.
While OEMs conduct much of their own research and development, Eurotype is able to provide supportive services. “Eurotype would complement an OEM’s own facilities in specific areas – vehicle endurance, for example, or the testing of prototypes under conditions of extreme secrecy – where we can best use the natural advantages of lower salaries, beneficial exchange rates and remoteness from Europe and America to render a superior service. The OEMs focus on development testing and Eurotype focus lies within regulatory compliance testing,” she says.
The company offers fast turn-around. “East London has an agreement with DaimlerChrysler that cars which are delivered for testing before 14:00 on one day (except Friday) are ready for collection before the close of business the next. We are currently running at over 99% compliance to this agreement,” Janjic says.
All testing is done to international standards, according to Janjic. “In East London, which is home of DaimlerChrysler South Africa, the emissions lab has the same dynamometers and analysers as were installed in the DaimlerChrysler lab in Bremen, so we are on a comparable technological level with the first world. Our engineers and technicians were trained in the DaimlerChrysler and BMW/Rover Group facilities in Europe, so the skills base is there, and ongoing training is part of the human resources development strategy.
Oban says the easiest way of linking Eurotype’s activities is by focus – East London focuses on environmental issues and Pretoria looks at safety issues and related compulsory standards. “In East London, we look at vehicle emissions (both gaseous and noise), emissions from heavy-duty engines, and environmental monitoring for ambient air quality. In Pretoria, they look at safety issues, such as braking systems (vehicle dynamic testing and friction material evaluation), trailer brakes, restraint systems (seat-belts, seat-belt and seat anchorages, and child restraints), restraint systems, alloy rims, lights, mirrors and, of course, impact testing.
“A common thread between both divisions is human resource development – a lot of time is spent training students from local Technikons in automotive technology in general, and in the specific areas in which we are engaged. Many of the permanent staff have, in fact, first experience Eurotype as a student trainee, as the programme does enable us to evaluate the various intakes and groom the most suitable candidates,” she says.
Eurotype can run all EU tests from Euro 1 to Euro 4, in terms of Type I, Type II, Type III and Type V tests. From 2005, it will be able to offer Type IV testing as well. “As the Australian regulations are based on EU, we can offer testing to ADR79/00 and 79/01. For America (except California) we can run to FTP75, and for Taiwan we run the same test plus the Highway Cycle. For Japan, we run the cold test, JAP11, and the hot test to JAP1015 (including tailpipe emissions at idle). Singapore tests to Euro 2, but we also run crankcase emission testing at idle and under two running conditions for those units. All these cycles are in the automation software from HEAD; should we need to test for another country then the relevant cycle can be uploaded through a dedicated ISDN link.
“The noise test section can conduct drive-by and stationary testing to the requirements of ISO362, TRIAS 20 or ADR28/00 for Europe, Japan or Australia respectively. Eurotype expects to be able to conduct the low friction road surface tests by mid 2005 after the upgrading of its test track,” she says.
Eurotype assists with the importation of the test vehicles, which enter South Africa on a one year Carnet which means that no duty has to be paid on the vehicle. “It could run on trade-plates, which would obviate the need for licensing, and would be covered by Eurotype’s insurance. We could arrange extra cover, beyond the current US$3-million, should it be required,” she says.


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