With its high focus on interior noise testing programs, Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) gains competitive advantages in a market where driver comfort is not only an essential, but also a vital safety issue as well as a tool to improve driver retention. For its vibration and acoustic test programs, Brüel & Kjær is CVG’s preferred supplier of accelerometers and microphones as well as solutions for noise source identification, material testing, sound intensity and modal analysis.
CVG is a leading global supplier of fully-integrated cab solutions for the commercial vehicle market, which includes the heavy-duty truck, construction and agricultural markets. CVG has approximately 6400 employees at its 38 facilities around the globe from which their large pallet of products are offered to OEMs such as International Truck, Freightliner, VOLVO/ MACK, Komatsu, etc., and to highway truck fleet owners. Among its offering of high-quality products, CVG is best known for suspension seat systems, interior trim products and cab structures.
'Dedication to our growth and diversification strategy is evident in what we have been able to accomplish by broadening our customers, markets and products,' says CEO Mervin Dunn, who recently was recognised by Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This statement is underlined by the seven global acquisitions made over the last four years, as well as the opening of CVG’s new Headquarters in New Albany, Ohio, USA. The new facility includes a Research and Development Center featuring state-of-the-art equipment in a modern space with labs for acoustic and vibration measurements.
The R&D Center
'At CVG’s Research and Development Center we focus on providing concept-to-prototype development of complete cab systems for the company’s manufacturing facilities around the world,' says Logan Mullinix, Vice President of Research & Development. 'For long-haul truck drivers we do not just deliver a driving seat – our product is the total cab system. A truck driver’s working environment can easily be home for a week or more, and in this sense, drivers want to have the same comfort they are familiar with from the passenger car market.' Logan continues, 'And for sound and vibration issues in the work environment, we see new legislation heading in our direction. By choosing Brüel & Kjær as our sound and vibration partner, in combination with our highly-skilled development engineers, we feel confident we can meet our customers’ future requirements for high-quality products.'
'The Acoustic Lab at CVG was designed to accelerate and improve the test programs of cab-related products in the areas of material testing and in-vehicle testing, which are our major concerns,' explains Chief Engineer Phil May. 'And for optimising existing products and developing new interior components (for example, flooring, dashboards, headliners, etc.), we have implemented leading-edge technologies in sound quality evaluation, sound absorption testing, noise sound identification, jury testing and vibro-acoustic modeling.'
For the measurement of noise source identification during on-road testing, CVG uses Brüel & Kjær’s Spherical Beamforming, which is unique for identifying and quantifying noises such as squeaks and rattles, in addition to the sounds transmitted into the cabin interior. 'With this system, not only can we listen to the recordings, but we can view the resulting 360-degree color noise map for quick identification of the source,' explains Phil. This provides CVG with an efficient and highly accurate test program.
'When we started the program to update our acoustic approach, we investigated all the top suppliers of various types of technology. And from what we saw, Brüel & Kjær is superior to its competitors in the market for array technology,' according to Phil. 'Not only do they understand the situation but they show a target-oriented willingness to jump into the project and assist us with a consolidated system that, for us, meant meeting our objectives and operating many test programs on a single platform.' The updated setup of CVG’s acoustic lab ensures its capability to provide benchmarking through all development stages, verification of components, troubleshooting and product quality.
Future Market Drivers
The market drivers for future development are most likely related to fuel economy and driver comfort. In the area of fuel economy, CVG contributes aerodynamic products, such as roof-mounted air fairings, where modal analysis plays its part to ensure that the mechanical design is optimised for durability and truck handling. Although it is somewhat difficult to relate acoustics to driver comfort and performance, one of the largest driver complaints concerns the noise levels in the cab. This can result in drivers leaving their companies. 'In this situation, CVG does not hesitate to say that our superior handling of cabin noise and vibration performance leads to competitive advantages and very likely also to improved driver retention. At CVG we are successful because we are committed to continuous improvement. We are constantly in pursuit of solutions that will improve, shape and define the future of acoustics and vibration in the global commercial vehicle industry,' concludes Logan.