At Klettwitz, in the German state of Brandenburg, DEKRA (German Motor Vehicle Inspection Association), operates a large automobile test center where, in cooperation with IAV, customers from the commercial vehicle sector are assisted in activities, such as conducting constant speed tests. But this is only just the beginning: In future, both companies want to combine their strengths in other services too. Uwe Burckhardt, head of sales and administration at the DEKRA test facility, and Tobias Töpfer, manager of the System Simulation & Testing team at IAV, report on a partnership with major potential.
How did the partnership come about between DEKRA and IAV?
Uwe Burckhardt: For about four years now, OEMs have been coming to us to run constant speed tests for commercial vehicles at our facility in Klettwitz. These are done to determine the drag coefficient of heavy commercial vehicles on the basis of the EU’s Constant Speed Test Method. This, in turn, is the input variable for the VECTO simulation tool which is used for computing later CO2 emissions. After all, we can’t measure this value on the roller dynamometer as we do with cars. The constant speed tests are very complex, involve a lot of work and are also strongly affected by ambient conditions. This is why OEMs want a service on a one-stop shop basis which, of course, we are pleased to provide our customers with. And this is precisely where IAV comes in: Complementing our expertise, we need a partner with relevant engineering know-how.
Tobias Töpfer: By the same token, we also had a number of inquiries for support in constant speed testing. This meant we needed a partner with a suitable test track and, of course, immediately thought of Klettwitz where the conditions for constant speed testing couldn’t be better. It gives us everything we need for test drives and function tests. At the facility, for example, we can reproduce situations on the highway or in towns. In addition, Klettwitz is near Berlin which means we benefit from not having to travel very far to the test site. Practice has shown that, as partners, DEKRA and IAV are the perfect match. In the meantime, we are already in our second year of cooperation. We are working very closely together and have seen contract volumes grow from strength to strength.
How are activities divided between DEKRA and IAV?
Töpfer: Our colleagues from DEKRA prepare the vehicles. We commission the technology, carry out the tests in collaboration with them and evaluate the results. In the constant speed test, for example, fifth-wheel sensors determine the amount of torque the vehicle gets onto the road. This then provides the basis for calculating how much traction power is needed to overcome road resistance.
Why doesn’t DEKRA simply offer the engineering services itself?
Burckhardt: DEKRA sees itself as a provider of testing services and not as an engineering company – this way, we also avoid any conflicts of interest in our core activities of type approval and homologation. Our competencies complement each other perfectly, producing the proverbial win-win situation both for us and our customers. Each of us contributes our strengths. What one can’t do, the other can. And in the meantime, this has evolved into a real partnership.
What, in your opinion, distinguishes IAV as a partner?
Burckhardt: We have known IAV for many years as a customer who has used our facilities. During this time we have come to appreciate the high standards and tremendous expertise of our colleagues from IAV. This is what made us so certain from the outset that we were getting the right partner on board. And in the meantime, our confidence in IAV’s performance and ability to deliver has grown so strong that our partnership is just fantastic, both from the human aspect and from a technical perspective. There is no other way – after all, we share the responsibility for looking after our customers and want to be successful as a team. From what I have been seeing, the word has also spread in our industry.
That sounds like you’ve got big plans together ...
Burckhardt: We certainly do. Besides the big OEMs, we’re now also working for component suppliers and trailer manufacturers. We have also had other inquires, and I also still see much potential in the range of services we could offer. I am thinking here, for example, of covering every aspect of driving tests for commercial vehicles. We have the test facilities, and IAV has a wealth of experience in developing commercial vehicles. Together, we can perform all tests quickly and with a good measure of flexibility – during development work, but also for homologation or conformity-of-production tests.
Töpfer: Other tests, too, are ideally suited to a job split between DEKRA and IAV, like PEMS tests, measuring real-driving fuel consumption, testing assist systems for commercial vehicles, tests on acoustics and driving dynamics as well as the powertrain. Doing so, we also save our customers many of the availability risks, such as weather unpredictability and the measurement technology risk. We can offer them a service at a set price because, among other aspects, our higher level of flexibility means we can make better use of the facility.
Burckhardt: At DEKRA, the management slogan of the year is “Winning by Collaboration”. And this is precisely what we are doing here: both partners win from this collaboration – and so do our customers.
DEKRA – On the Safe Side
Whether on the road, at work or at home – DEKRA’s skilled experts improve safety across all the key areas of life. And this mission extends around the globe. The expert organization has a workforce of more than 44,000 people working in over 50 countries on five continents. DEKRA’s international expansion began with their entry into the marketplace in France and Italy in 1988.
Since then, the company has expanded its global position through strategic acquisitions in countries such as China, the USA, South Africa and New Zealand.
In 2017, the company grew for the 14th year in a row, with consolidated revenues rising by 8.0% to EUR 3.1 billion. The headcount grew by almost 4,700 to 44,000. DEKRA is now the world’s fourth-largest expert organization in the TIC (testing, inspection, certification) industry.