Automated test system provides faster driveline development

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A new, automated mobile oil expulsion detection system that can reduce development time and cost has been developed by engineering consultancy Drive System Design (DSD). The ‘VENTS’ system monitors oil expulsion through the breather system of a driveline unit, such as an axle or transmission case during testing. Traditionally this would require continuous engineer observation and can take up to eight weeks – with VENTS it now only takes three weeks and requires little involvement from engineers.

The technology is based on electronically detecting the presence of oil in the breather tube for which patent protection is underway. Announced at the recent International CTI Symposium in Berlin, VENTS is initially developed for rig use but is sufficiently compact and robust to allow fitting to prototype vehicles.

DSD statest that the benefit of VENTS is that it ‘frees up engineering resources yet shortens program timing’ by enabling unattended monitoring of tests, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and recording the exact conditions under which any oil expulsion occurs.

“OEMs and Tier1s expend hundreds of hours of engineer and technician time monitoring breather systems for oil carry over as part of their product validation, yet it may be difficult or impossible for the operator to determine the precise conditions under which oil expulsion has occurred,” explained Rob Oliver, DSD chief engineer – Test.

“VENTS eliminates the need for human observation yet, should any oil enter the breather, it video records the event and captures the exact time and operating conditions under which it occurred.”

The system is a turnkey solution, comprising hardware and software that includes a high resolution video camera, sensors and software configured for plug-and-play connectivity to a data logger. The system provides output through a GUI (graphical user interface) on the operator’s screen. The parameters reported can include tri-axial orientation, shaft speed, oil temperature and more, and the user can configure features such as system sensitivity and recording duration simply by entering new values. VENTS self-adjusts automatically for different ambient light levels, meaning tests can be carried out in varying light conditions.

Though currently applied to test rigs such as rock-and-roll installations, to examine the effects of operating under extremes of pitch or roll, VENTS can also be applied to ‘on vehicle’ installations by using remote communication to the camera. This will enable the validation of breather systems as a concurrent part of other vehicle test activities, allowing further savings in a customer’s overall development costs.

April 14, 2016

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About Author


Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine + Powertrain of the Year Awards.

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