Looking at the news on any given day you’ll see a story on a new type of electric or alternate fuel vehicle—from cars, motorcycles and trucks to tractors, boats and even airplanes. While these advancements are exciting, these new categories of vehicles create some real challenges for manufacturers trying to deliver quality products to market.
Leak testing of assemblies across the entire vehicle – from headlights to taillights – is a critical element in building reliable parts. In working with eMobility companies around the world, I’ve noticed a few common themes when it comes to leak detection.
1. Defining quality for new categories of components where standards don’t yet exist
The most common challenge is determining what the specifications need to be and which technologies are best used for testing. Though some assemblies such as cameras and LiDAR systems can rely on known testing to ratings such as IP67, parts such as EV batteries are newer territory with no real standards to work from. Manufacturers are learning as they go.
The struggle to find the right balance between cycle time, test sensitivity and costs combined with the fact that choices made now may need to evolve when mass production truly begins, creates a lot of uncertainty.
2. Collaboration is increasing and is occurring earlier in the process
To mitigate this uncertainty, we at CTS have seen most eMobility manufacturers are taking an increasingly collaborative approach with their test solution providers. In most cases, it means working together at earlier stages to understand the part design and help set the initial specifications and conducting various trials to find the right solution that meets that cost/test sensitivity/cycle time balance required.
The good news is that collaboration among OEMs is also happening now. This will help establish reliable standards and set expectations for the performance of various EV and eMobility assemblies.
3. Costs are driving the selection of leak test methods, but shouldn’t always
Trying to manage costs is not unique to eMobility manufacturing. We have, however, seen companies trying to push the limits of air leak testing rather than seek out higher cost alternatives—particularly in complex assemblies such as a battery tray. The reality is that the spec dictates the leak test technology. The spec and possible process variables in the testing environment are considerations that must be holistically considered.
Using a battery tray as an example: the production specifications often trend toward increasingly lower leak rates and environmental conditions typically impact the viability of the test. Though air leak testing may be desired for its lower cost, the right choice is more likely an alternate option if the process and environmental conditions are not well suited for air leak testing. Selecting the proper technology is something we work through with our customers during pre-production trials. As we offer a full range of solutions, we aren’t attached to a particular technology, but focus on steering our customers to the right one for their application.
Also on the cost side, station footprint is increasingly important. There has been an even greater push to develop systems to maximize and optimize the use of floor space. That means that building the right leak test must take more factors into consideration than just the technology being utilized for the test.
Rely on our experts to get the right leak detection
With CTS having been at the forefront of leak testing applications across the range of new vehicle technologies, we can help you find the solution that meets your goals. As your test partner with a broad toolkit of technology, we can support you at one of our many locations with leak test insight, trials and more. Contact us to discuss your requirements.