Enhanced ergonomics in the car: Valeo opts for innovative operating concepts - and measurement technology from HBM

Air conditioning, navigation system, radio, MP3 player, etc.: Modern cars continue to develop into genuine multimedia cockpits. However, the more complex the technology available, the more important it is that this multitude of functions is easy to use. Valeo, a globally acting automotive supplier headquartered in France, has recognized this trend. In its control elements and information panels that are integrated in many models of worldwide leading automotive manufacturers, Valeo opts for maximum ergonomics - and for measurement technology from HBM.

What are the primary selection criteria for European automotive customers when buying a new car? Recent studies show that - of course - the protection of persons and property ranks first. Closely followed, with 8.8 of 10 possible points, by arguments such as "driving and viewing comfort" as well as "design". Drivers expect an ever increasing level of comfort - especially where control of the often complex technological on-board systems is concerned.

Increasingly complex technology requires easy operating concepts

The automotive supplier Valeo has clearly recognized this megatrend - and successfully positioned itself in the Comfort and Driving Assistant Systems business segment providing many innovations to enhance comfort in the car.

Valeo subjects its control elements to multiple testing with the aim of increasing ergonomics in the car - and scores with smart innovations. This applies, for example, to instrument panels providing a touch screen for controlling air conditioning, radio and navigation system. And also for other mechanical 'multifunction user interfaces" such as a joystick. The primary goal is: To be able to offer drivers easy and intuitive control, notwithstanding the complex technological systems on board. This is possible through sophisticated man-machine interfaces and optimized ergonomics. Therefore, maximum quality is mandatory already during the production of switch and control elements - to enable the technically mature components to meet the users' demanding expectations later.

Ergonomic control elements by Valeo tested with HBM measurement technology

For this reason, Valeo opts for the complete measurement chain from HBM in the production of control elements for opening and closing the window - including the MP85A-S EASYswitch process controller which enables both the quality of joined connections and ergonomic test parameters to be taken into account.

Valeo tests all its switches already during and directly after production (end-of-line). Tests involve measurement of forces resulting from operation of a switch - using type PACEline CFT 20 kN piezoelectric force sensors. HBM PACEline sensors are characterized by compact design, high stiffness, and high overload. These properties enable PACEline sensors to be easily integrated in the mechanics of the test system. In addition, they accurately measure small forces, too - without the risk of the sensors being mechanically damaged as a result of operating errors during use.

Series CMA analog PACEline charge amplifiers convert the force signal into an analog output signal which is evaluated using the MP85A-S EASYswitch process controller. These components, too, have been provided by HBM. The process controller comprises analysis algorithms that enable both the "haptics" of the control element and the locking function of the electrical switch to be evaluated in one test cycle. The advantages: Minimized testing period and increased production output.

"The perfectly matched components of the piezoelectric measuring chain from HBM enabled us to increase the efficiency and reliability of our test procedures within the shortest time possible", say Valeo engineers SOUFFLET, MOENNE LOCCOZ and GRAVELINE.

Transducers, electronics, software: The complete measuring chain from a single source

All analyzed test processes are stored on a line server and are available for quality data management. This enables Valeo to document the quality of the products delivered to its customers. In addition, Valeo uses the "FASTpress Suite" software package from HBM. The big advantage: A Microsoft .NET-based integrated software toolkit enables individual views to be generated. This means extra ease of use for staff directly at the production machines. Moreover, the software features all functions required for testing the control elements in an easy and failsafe way.

Ultra-compact sensors that enable small forces to be quickly and reliably measured. Smart measurement electronics that even comply with ergonomic criteria. User friendly and flexible software that can be adapted to the requirements of the production line on site. In short: Valeo uses the complete measuring chain from HBM with perfectly matched components - for extra comfort in production.

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