Since the year 2014, Mladá Boleslav has been home to a top-class development and testing centre for propulsion units, in which the car manufacturer has invested 1.2 billion crowns. Apart from the development of petrol multi-point injection (MPI) engines, the ŠKODA AUTO Engine Centre also deals with the incorporation of concern aggregates into its models, and the thorough testing itself.
“One must bear in mind that not only regulations, but also weather conditions differ significantly between various parts of the world,” says Head of Chassis and Aggregate Development at ŠKODA AUTO, Martin Hrdlička.
“Engines must be prepared for various emission norms, dramatically different temperatures, high altitudes, various fuel qualities, and the use of components from several different suppliers.”
A less-known fact is that the same aggregates are used in many different models, but the engine must be specifically tuned for each of them before mass production. For example, this involves the optimisation of the control unit, cooling, and the exhaust and intake systems, as well as the arrangement of the necessary functional and homologation tests.
And how does such testing take place? Aggregates with an output of up to 400 kW and torque of up to 750 Nm are tested on 15 test beds. Each stand is located in a separate room, which is perfectly soundproofed and protected against fire. The entire device is positioned on air-suspended cast-iron plates weighing up to 40 tonnes, which prevent the transmission of vibrations to the rest of the Engine Centre building.
An air conditioning system immediately conducts combustion products away from the exhaust. Analysers, which measure the composition of the tested engines' emissions, are positioned between individual stations. For acoustic and safety reasons, every test area is separated from the operator by glued “bulletproof” glass.
For the testing, the engine is placed in advance on a special pallet, to which it is firmly anchored. The preparation of an aggregate for testing – assembly, anchoring to the pallet etc. – takes several dozen hours, while its placement on the test bed is a question of just a few minutes.
The technicians connect it to an electric engine brake and the required measuring technology, and set up fuel and cooling fluid feeds. Also worthy of mention is the fact that it is possible to test many different types of fuel here, from petrol through diesel, CNG, LPG and ethanol, to special racing engine fuel. The filling stations have 50 thousand litre containers.
Another area which the technicians in the Engine Centre are engaged in is the development and testing of transmissions. To fulfil this demanding task, a new testing room was recently opened in which 5 top-class testing posts are installed. They are used to test existing off-the-shelf designs, as well as new components and transmissions which will only be used in cars in a few years' time.