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MediaService Digital Industries Newsroom

Staying on track – Siemens components significantly optimize truck tire test bench performance

The MaRCoPoLo test bench was custom built by Michelin for testing heavy truck tires.

Developing new truck tires is a complicated process. The tires have to provide just the right amount of traction while offering extremely low rolling resistance for optimum driving safety and fuel efficiency. They also need to be durable and flexible enough to be able to balance a range of load, temperature and force conditions. To ensure its tires meet these different requirements, Michelin subjects them to many different tests over the entire development lifecycle – both on the test bench and on public roads. The MaRCoPoLo (Machine de Recherche en Comportement Poids-Lourd/ research bench for the handling of truck tires) test bench has been an essential element of the test regime since 2000. Michelin relied, among other things, on Siemens motion control systems and industrial communication solutions for the modernization.

High demands

Michelin had a very clear idea of what was required for the upgrade. In addition to consistency and accuracy, Michelin also wanted the new tests to be comparable to the previous and to maintain existing measurement parameters. “The most important aspect was the requirements in terms of motion control: We need to perform complex calculations based on measurements for axle load and angles. Tires are not rigid, but instead react to external forces by plastic deformation, and we have to continuously integrate feedback from the machine and sensors into the control system,” explains Jeremy Buisson, head of Michelin’s tire and material test bench engineering at the Michelin’s technology center in Ladoux. “As a result, we need a solution that is both very adaptive and precise.”

Better than expected

The Siemens technology installed meets these requirements. The Simatic ET 200SP distributed I/O system integrates the signals at the field level, and a failsafe Simatic S7-1500 controls all general machine functions as well as the safety systems. This solution is able to provide the fast communication with sensors and the control room as well as with the drives for the various axes and the values for the position and speed can also be correctly calculated. The accuracy of the results from the Siemens components after commissioning also impressed. “To validate that the test results with the new systems were comparable, we did several tests using tires that had already been tested before the retrofit. To our great satisfaction, the results were indeed very much alike,” enthuses Buisson. “What we did not expect, however, was that the results were much more accurate – three to seven times more, depending on the type of measurement result looked at.”
Tires are tested with simulated driving speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour and with various values for load, speed, pressure, slip, and camber.
To reduce project risks, Michelin tested the new system on a smaller-scale machine that was built specifically for this purpose.
The new automation solution from Siemens enables accurate positioning and synchronization of the axes on the test bench as well as integration of the automation solution with the sensors and the control room.
MediaService application reports may be based on previously published Siemens technical articles.

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