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Dampers and suspension modules and systems are tested at Tenneco’s new test facility in Gliwice, Poland. (Tenneco)

Tenneco opens engineering, simulation center in Poland

The products designed and validated at the new site include a hefty diet of passive and semi-active suspension dampers.

Suspension- and powertrain-components specialist Tenneco recently opened a new 9,600 sq.m (103,334-sq.ft.) European engineering center at Gliwice in Poland to serve its European ride-control and advanced suspension technologies businesses. The new facility is located close to the company’s nearby manufacturing plant.

“We've centralized all the prototyping and all the testing in one location. We've moved the capacity and the machines from Belgium, from Spain and from Otowice into this facility,” Henrik Johansson, Vice President and General Manager Advanced Suspension Technologies, told SAE Media Group. “It's a good place to be for us for many reasons. It's near to many of the customers, of course, and also we have a great cooperation with the local universities and we have one of our major – I would say the major – European site here just up the road.” The new site is located on a science and new technology park, with the Silesian University nearby. There also is a connection with the Technology University of Krakow.

Products designed and validated at the new facility include Monroe passive dampers and modules and semi-active suspension dampers and modules used in a variety of vehicles, from passenger vehicles to commercial trucks, buses and trailers and more. Core components such as valve systems, guidance and sealing systems and damper structural parts and materials also are designed at the new center.

“We made this a center of excellence for many of the different developments that we're producing. For instance, all simulation is run out of this facility” says Johansson, “Customers are constantly changing and trying to reduce the time to market. One step is using much more simulation instead of testing. That has already shortened many of the OEMs’ time to market.”

Collaborative projects with vehicle manufacturers are overseen from the center. Through these, Tenneco’s engineers work with manufacturers to test and set damper valving ahead of new-vehicle launches. Tenneco can conduct four to five ride sessions per week from the center. The company uses adjustable dampers for these test sessions, supplied with a variety of valves. Once the settings are finalized, the production dampers are manufactured as sealed units. Tuning takes place with different vehicle variants such as sedan, wagon, cabriolet and sport. Even an open sunroof can affect the settings.

The new site conducts durability testing on dampers with 28 test cells for 28 different tests. This includes testing the structure of dampers as well as entire suspension systems.

Simulation can generate environments similar to road conditions. A typical customer specification could include a working life of 10 years and a requirement to cover 150,000 km (93,000 miles), with testing accordingly.

Semi-active suspension systems now are common for premium vehicles. When Johansson was asked how likely it is that the technology would find its way into mass market cars, he explained, “We're quoting platforms now where you would typically find €25 - €30,000 ($28,000 to $33,600) cars and this is already happening today. I think we would be able to go even further than that.

“We could do a much better job on purchasing when we could harmonize more customers together,” he added. “We already have two production lines now in China for semi-active and we're also looking into the North America and Mexico region. That's also when the conversion costs will drop a little bit again, so I think we will see those technologies on pretty much ordinary cars and platforms, maybe as an option, but that's also how we started 20 years ago with Volvo, Audi and Ford. It was also an option. Nowadays, you see it being standard on platforms.”

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