Case study – Groupe Renault migrates to a digital vehicle testing process in its Technical Testing Center in Titu
Renault Technologie Roumanie is the engineering center of Groupe Renault in Romania. 2,300 engineers design here smart, affordable, reliable, and modern solutions with customers’ expectations in mind. Duster and the all-new models unveiled at the end of 2020 (third generation Logan, Sandero and Sandero Stepway) are designed, tested and manufactured in Romania.
COMPANY PROFILE – GROUPE RENAULT OPERATIONS IN ROMANIA
Complete automotive chain: customer surveys, design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, business services, after-sales and financial services
- 6 billion (euro) turnover across all Groupe Renault operations in Romania (2019)
- 3% share in GDP
- 7% share in exports
- 3 billion (euro) total investments
- 17,000 employees across all sectors
- 1,500 automotive suppliers in Romania
- 108 Dacia & Renault sales outlets
- Dacia has the highest market share in Romania
- 85% of the production of Mioveni plant is exported
Titu Technical Testing Center
With over 32 km of testing track and 52,000 structures on 350 hectares, Titu Technical Center, part of RTR, is home to Renault Technologie Roumanie engineering center.
Over 800 employees use every day leading edge technologies and tools to test vehicles at various design stages and in various weather and road conditions.
At Titu Technical Testing Center, Renault Technologie Roumanie teams perform complex tests and thoroughly assess vehicle behavior in particular usage conditions in accordance with a validation procedure prior to manufacturing.
Some Dacia models have been altered based on the feedback from the international markets, in some cases over 100 versions being available, such as those manufactured for tropical climates and heavy monsoon rainfalls, or those designed for extremely cold climates where temperature goes much below zero.
Vehicles or certain vehicle parts are subjected to hours of tests in sun simulators, cold and rain chambers at various intensities or on roller benches where the clutch, the gearbox, and the accelerator are activated in settings similar to real-life driving conditions.
Vehicles are also tested in a “quiet room” – a soundproof acoustic enclosure – in order to assess the impact of the various outside noises on the occupants, and in a special shop, where a robot opens and closes the vehicle doors and the trunk lid.
These durability tests last no less than 10 weeks during which orange robots open and close the driver’s door 100,000 times, the front passenger door 75,000 times and the trunk lid 30,000 times; the hood is opened 3,000 times.
Extensive software tests are also performed. The durability of the vehicle parts is tested at extreme temperatures ranging from -20ºC to +80ºC.
Titu Technical Center is the only RTR center of this type in Romania; it ranks second in the world in terms of size.
Challenges faced by Renault Testing Center in the vehicle validation process
Each year, the tests carried out at the center in Titu cover eight million kilometers, a distance equal to 200 times around the world, and 450,000 hours of test bench trials, which is equivalent to 52 years of vehicle life.
On a regular day, over 80 vehicles can be tested. In accordance with the standard testing procedures, a vehicle is subjected to tests covering up to 50,000 km, for seven hours, across three shifts. Tests can last up to three months for a single vehicle. These tests simulate intensive usage and are equivalent to several years of real use by a customer.
“Imagine ten types of tracks, including a fast track, a city track, a sloping track, a cobblestone track, and a wet handling circuit, which simulate various road conditions a driver may face, from countryside roads to big city traffic or highways. The driver must record whatever they notice – for example, any abnormal noise, or if the seat or the armrest feels uncomfortable. In addition, for validation purposes, the driver must drive at a particular speed”, says Roxana Furduescu, Chef de Projet Performance WP et Roulage.
Until last year, the data collected during these tests were recorded by hand on paper forms. The process was quite difficult to manage, as several sheets of paper used to be printed every day for each vehicle. Consequently, the data volume resulting from the processing of these records was difficult to manage, process and analyze.
The Project: Setting up of a digital vehicle validation process for Dacia range
The deployment of a digital validation process for Dacia range aimed not only to eliminate paper forms, and to reduce the related costs, but also to achieve seamless coordination of all resources involved in vehicle validation, to eliminate human errors associated with manual data entry, and to centralize data in a mobile and web-based application allowing for a detailed analysis of all historical data collected in the validation process.
However, the crucial factors in favor of this decision were quality assurance and compliance with the relevant international regulations, and an easier management of the validation process for each vehicle.
The Solution for the digital transformation of the vehicle validation process: Driving Test Management
In order to make the job easier for the drivers and to achieve a better coordination of the project teams, Renault Testing Center needed a rugged, vehicle-mountable tablet that could be used in specific testing conditions. On a regular workday, a driver would pick up the tablet at the start of the shift and take it everywhere with them during the testing time.
“At the end of a very thorough selection process, RTR chose Zebra ET51 tablets for the testing operations conducted at Titu Testing Center and Smart ID provision and maintenance services. The project was implemented from October 2020 to November 2020. Zebra Technologies tablets met all the requirements of the project, particularly due to the high resolution display which delivered sharp text and clear graphics and was easy to read, including in bright sunlight or rain, and proved to be a valuable tool in relation to the testing environment and conditions.” Roxana Furduescu, Chef de Projet Performance WP et Roulage.
Following the deployment of Zebra tablets, for each vehicle model entering testing, sequential data is uploaded into the DTM (Driving Test Management) application as part of a specific process. All paper records have been replaced by digital forms in which the driver enters the required information. All the driver has to do is take over the car, enter the mileage, and fill in the information in the assessment form. Zebra tablets offer drivers enhanced operational flexibility. Data can be entered more quickly and easily following a predefined sequence, and can be transferred to the web-based application at the end of each shift.
Besides the driver, a technician, a mechanic (in case repairs are needed) and the team lead who validates the information at the end of each workday are also involved in the process.
Designed for intensive environments, Zebra ET51 is built to handle repeated drops to concrete and plywood and to continue to operate. IP65 sealing makes ET51 your best workmate in all environments – in rain, snow, dust, vibrations, and extreme temperatures (from -20°C to 50°C).
In vehicle testing, where every second counts, and any noise or any abnormal operation has to be recorded in real time, it is important that drivers have a reliable tablet that allows them to focus on their job, not on issues relating to connectivity, operation, readability, battery drain, etc. Zebra tablets are built to handle everything and to continue to operate without causing any disruption in the workflow.
The 4,950 mAh battery powers a full eight-hour shift, but, in exceptional circumstances, a second 3,400 mAh hot-swappable battery may be added. The 2MP camera enables video calling over the Wi-Fi or cellular network, allowing workers to get instant help from a remote expert, co-worker or supervisor. The product also integrates an 8MP rear-facing camera.
“We worked very well with the Smart ID team since the start of the project. We were assisted by a skilled consulting team, ready to tackle any challenge posed by the project; they brought into this project their know-how and expertise gained across complex projects, but also their experience as a Zebra Technologies partner for more than 20 years”, says Roxana Furduescu, Chef de Projet Performance WP et Roulage.
Lower project costs
Digital processes and elimination of paper-based recordings
Coordination of the main processes and resources required for the validation of driving tests
Less data entry errors
Time savings due to digital data collection
Implementation of DTM auditing procedures allowing to view drivers’ reports and to resume the process where nonconformities are found
Increased brand awareness – vehicle testing and validation processes help to avoid huge costs caused by vehicle recalls