All New Volvo FH
New Volvo FH truck was subjected to a range of tests for quality. The truck has been cooled, heated, shaken and even thrown around. It has been driven for several hundreds of kilometers in the most extreme conditions. Despite all this, the new model has passed all the tests with honor. After releasing a new truck generation with all-new components and technical solutions, the car should pass quality tests, and meet requirements and needs of its customers.
According to Quality Director at Volvo Trucks Hayder Wokil, to set the quality standards for products it is important to know how the buyer will use the truck, to know the operational environments, the segments to operate and customers’ requirements. The buyer needs to be sure that the truck will do the job as expected, regardless of road or weather conditions.
The demands of the quality tests are very comprehensive. So to plan testing and verification that defined the various truck characteristics to be tested took more than a year.
Project Manager for verification and validation for the new Volvo FH Kenneth Abrahamsson says that despite the fact that the test plan is very difficult to understand the actual test method is really easy. The process includes testing, measurement, and improving, repeating the test process over and over again to the point when the product meets or exceeds the requirements.
First of all the tests were focused on parameters such as reliability, durability and fuel consumption. As a rule, individual components of the truck such as the chassis, cab and electrical system are tested separately. Then the complete truck is tested. Volvo FH was tested both in laboratories of Volvo Trucks, proving grounds, as well in regular commercial traffic.
One of the many Volvo Trucks proving grounds is located in Kiruna, northern Sweden; here during the winter 2011/2012 the lowest temperature -44 ° C was fixed. Such ice-cold climate is ideal for testing a new Volvo FH trucks in extreme conditions. One of the test engineers Hans Johanzon had to make sure that the test drivers were using the trucks in exactly the same way as they use their own trucks; they had to sleep in cabins, carry passengers and start the truck in the morning after a freezing cold night.
During the testing period each truck was driven for at least 20,000 kilometers in the extreme cold conditions, one of the biggest problems was that all the components from the hardest material to the electrical system became brittle. Thus, it was necessary to develop components that can withstand extreme weather conditions without failing.
In addition to low temperatures the trucks should be able to withstand rapid changes in temperature, so they were driven from northern Scandinavia with 40 degrees below zero to the Norwegian coast with its milder and humid climate and the temperature is above zero. Twenty minutes later the trucks again drove up into the mountains, where the temperature dropped once more.
Demanding accelerated endurance tests corresponds to 10 years and 1 250 000 kilometers. Testing includes driving in extreme conditions, on hills with gradients from 10 to 20 percent, overcoming obstacles, potholes, washboards, areas of dips and water channels. In addition, the test procedure includes other elements such as opening and closing the door over and over again.
One of the most difficult test is driving the truck on Durability track, the car overcome the same obstacles as in standard traffic situations, but in a shorter time period. The test is accelerated by driving round and round the track.
Even more complicated test was conducted in laboratory, where Volvo was continuously shaken around for six to eight weeks; this corresponds to driving more than a million kilometers.
Volvo Trucks also performed field tests. Almost 50 trucks were placed with customers in Europe, Australia and Brazil. This allowed trucks to cover different types of transport, driver behavior, climates and operating conditions.
However, in truck testing extreme conditions are not the only important aspect; Volvo also takes into account the requirements of the customers who operate in more “normal” driving conditions.