At Mercedes-Benz Trucks, today saw an important milestone celebrated in the company of numerous special guests. Together with Malu Dreyer, Minister President for the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and Dr Volker Wissing, Minister for Economic Affairs and Transport in the Rhineland-Palatinate region, Stefan Buchner, Member of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG, responsible for the regions Europe and Latin America and the Mercedes-Benz truck brand and Thomas Zwick, Chairman of the Works Council at the Mercedes-Benz Wörth plant opened the extended Development and Testing Centre in the southern Palatinate region, eighteen months after the foundations were laid.
Around 50 million euros have been invested in the centre of competence for the development of trucks – amongst other things for a new test stand facility for testing both individual systems and complete vehicles as well as an office and workshop building. In addition, around 20 million euros went towards the ultra-modern road-to-rig test stand for comprehensive testing of Mercedes-Benz trucks in real time. The complex is a further integral part of the Mercedes-Benz Truck Testing Campus and went into operation in 2019.
Stefan Buchner: “The new development and testing capacities perfectly complement the activities of our truck production in Wörth. By bundling the development scopes, Mercedes-Benz Truck’s largest plant has gained in importance, offering attractive jobs in the southern Palatinate region that are secure in the long-term.”
Prof. Uwe Baake, Head of Product Engineering at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, adds: “Our new road-to-rig test stand for trucks is one of the most modern in Europe. Thanks to its precise simulation of driving, we have taken testing and measuring for conventional and alternative drivetrains from the road into the testing hall and are thus making an important contribution to sustainability and relieving public roads.”
Malu Dreyer: “The state government is very well-aware of the significance of the automotive industry for Rhineland-Palatinate’s economy. It has become one of the most important sectors in the state. For both myself and the state government one thing is certain; together with manufacturers and researching bodies, we want to make the commercial vehicle industry in the state one of the winners of the digital transformation process.”
Dr Volker Wissing: “Increasingly Rhineland-Palatinate is developing to become a pacemaker for new developments in the vehicle industry. No matter whether it’s autonomous driving, new drive systems or state-of-the-art testing facilities – innovations are made in Rhineland-Palatinate. Investments made by companies show that excellent conditions prevail for industrial plants in Rhineland-Palatinate. We can look forward to the future with optimism. The development work that is being carried out here, will ensure that Rhineland-Palatinate firmly establishes itself within the automotive industry in the long-term.”
“In commissioning the extended development and testing centre, more than 100 attractive jobs will be additionally anchored in Wörth. And the majority of these jobs in Wörth will be newly assigned jobs. They therefore offer attractive places of work as we’re bringing highly modern and future-oriented technologies to our location,” says Thomas Zwick. “From other perspectives, too, the new jobs are extremely interesting: the design of the new workplaces takes into account the individual activities of the colleagues. The requirements which are derived from this have been placed in central focus. Even the aspect of ‘ergonomics in the workplace’ has been consistently taken into consideration.”
Development and testing of networked, automated and electric driving: the development and testing centre for Mercedes-Benz Trucks
The development and testing centre (also known by its German abbreviation EVZ) is the centre of competence for development work at Mercedes-Benz Trucks and thus plays an important role in the development and testing of connected, automated and electric driving.
The opening of the EVZ in June 2008 in close proximity to the Wörth production plant was deliberate – it allowed for a close co-operation between the development and production areas. This proximity to the production area provides definite benefits for purchasing/parts logistics, for example, as well as for the co-operation with the production planning (link between development and production). The bundling of development scopes in Wörth means that significant synergy effects can be achieved.
The EVZ has numerous rough road test tracks and a range of different road surface types which are representative of various roads around the world at its disposal. This allows us, for example, to replicate the conditions which our vehicles may face in places like South America, South Korea, Africa and of course Europe. The EVZ still also has a run-in track with bank angles as high as 49 percent for functional testing. What’s more, office, workshop and service facilities are all present on-location at the EVZ and accommodate a range of test rigs for such tasks as truck component testing.
From the road to the rig: sustainable and ultra-modern completion of testing at Mercedes-Benz Trucks
Prof. Uwe Baake presented one of the most modern road-to-rig truck test stands in Europe at the opening ceremony: Mercedes-Benz Trucks recently started testing trucks comprehensively, sustainably and in real-time with the system. In a 24/7 operation, drivetrains for traditional drive system variants, gas engines, hybrid drive systems, battery-electric and fuel-cell drive systems can be simulated in realistic driving conditions on the test stand and developed to production standard.
Now, instead of testing on public roads, test drives or legally prescribed test cycles are automated and extremely precise; carried out in the testing hall using drive simulations. For this, the truck is connected with the test stand computer via a control line and controlled from there for all of the necessary functions. As a result, many complex fuel consumption measurements which were previously carried out exclusively on the road are now possible on the test stand in comparable conditions and with even greater repetitive accuracy. Mercedes-Benz Trucks is thus making a significant contribution to sustainable transportation.
The test stand is equipped with a large headwind fan with an airflow rate of more than 800,000 m³/hour, which is equal to a maximum approach velocity of 90 km/h. The temperature of the entire testing room can be set steplessly within the range of -7°C to +50°C to produce extreme ambient conditions.
Various vehicle combinations with up to four driven axles can be driven on the new test stand. In doing so, the tractor unit stands on four drums with a diameter of three metres. A large water-cooled electric motor with an output of 600 kW is mounted at each roller. These electric machines enable the simulation of all driving resistances acting on the vehicle externally during real driving operations. This includes, for example, extreme uphill climbs at full load with maximum payload or also braking on a downhill gradient. All of the maximum speeds permissible on motorways throughout Europe can be driven on the test stand.
About the Mercedes-Benz Wörth plant
The biggest truck assembly plant of Mercedes-Benz Trucks in Wörth am Rhein was founded in 1963 and produces the Mercedes-Benz Arocs and Atego trucks. Plus, for more than 20 years now, it has also been the home of the world’s most successful heavy-duty truck, the Actros. The Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Econic, Unimog and Zetros are also built here. Each day up to 470 trucks leave Wörth, all built to customer specifications. Customers in over 150 countries know they can rely on the “Quality made in Wörth” seal. The location on the banks of the river Rhine is the centre of competence in the worldwide production network for Mercedes-Benz Trucks. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz Wörth plant has more than 50 years’ experience of CKD (completely knocked down) production and it supplies vehicle kits to many other overseas markets where the final assembly is then carried out locally – more than 750,000 kits to the present day. With around 10,300 employees, the Mercedes-Benz Wörth plant is the second-largest employer in the Rhineland-Palatinate region.