RAVENNA, Ohio—In response to the growing demand for electric vehicles, Smithers is adding a high-speed uniformity (HSU) machine to its Tire and Wheel Test Center in Ravenna.
The ZF HSU 5.3 machine is expected to be fully operational by January 2022, Smithers said.
High-speed uniformity and cleat testing measures and evaluates tire performance as it relates to noise, vibration, and harshness. HSU testing enables tire developers to quickly assess how changes to a tire design or manufacturing will impact vehicle and ride characteristics.
These evaluations play a significant role in the driving experience and overall comfort of the consumer, Smithers said.
"There are two specific challenges associated with EVs that testing associated with an HSU machine can help OEMs address," said Michael Nehls, the GM for Smithers' Tire and Wheel Test Center. "First, EVs are quieter than cars with internal combustion engines, which means EV drivers are more sensitive to the sounds and vibrations of normal operation. Second, EVs are heavy. That extra weight can cause flat spotting in EV tires, which translates to more noise and vibration while driving. This new HSU machine allows us to objectively assess these challenges in a laboratory setting so our clients can evaluate their development process and audit the manufacturing process."
The HSU machine measures high-speed uniformity values at speeds of up to 400 kilometers or 250 miles per hour. It also offers a broad measuring frequency, with its highest natural frequency reaching 320Hz. Its full capabilities include:
- High- and low-speed uniformity testing;
- Rolling resistance testing;
- Cleat testing for tire modeling;
- Transient impact response;
- RPM and RPK measurement; and
- Auto balancing.
The machine can support standardized test protocols, such as SAE J1269, SE J2453, ISO, and ASTM standards, and OEM specifications.
"By being the first independent laboratory in North America to invest in this new HSU machine, Smithers can uphold our promise to provide critical testing capacity and capabilities to our clients so they can keep pace with R&D efforts and evolving demands," said Jim Popio, vice president of Smithers Materials Science and Engineering Division.
Smithers said it is already scheduling client work on the new HSU machine.