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Testing and validation: Engineering puts the products of Zuidberg to the test

11 October 2020  |  Reading time: 6 minutes

Here at Zuidberg, every department has its own expertise, including Engineering. The technical experts of this division mainly focus on the development of new systems for tractors and harvesting machines. Nevertheless, one of the most important tasks of this department is often overlooked: the testing process for our front lifting systems, front PTOs, tracks and transmissions.

The organization of the Engineering department

Engineering consists of around twenty engineers and can be divided into two subgroups: Product Engineering and Research & Innovation. The first group, consisting of around nine engineers, is mainly focused on making existing concepts applicable for both the OEM market and the aftermarket for agricultural mechanization. This group is responsible for maintaining and expanding Zuidberg's product range for both front lifting and front PTOs.

If a new tractor is introduced and the expected sales are looking good, we will ensure that we have a product for it as soon as possible. You can count on it. However, our Engineering department does a lot more than just making existing agricultural tractor and harvesting machine concepts applicable.

Product Engineering is expanding our product assortiment.

​Research & Innovation

The second group, Research & Innovation, is focused on inventing innovative concepts and systems for all product groups. You could say it is focused on the future.

Since the future will mainly bring innovation, however, a large part of the range of tasks of Research & Innovation is to test everything that we develop. This is called 'validation'. In other words, this means declaring something suitable for use. This process is more important than people often think.

We have a wide range of testing areas where we subject all of our products to rigorous testing. This is not only done because we require our products to be able to withstand the most extreme climates, activities and loads, but also because our customers expect this. We therefore always determine the requirements of each product together.

Everything in-house, including drawing up testing protocols

We develop nearly everything in-house. Since we do this for all of our products, we think it is more than logical to develop all associated protocols ourselves. Through the years, we increasingly discovered which forms of testing are closest to reality. In fact, you could say that they match reality.

We develop our own equipment for testing. 

Our products must be able to function at full capacity for ten years. That is our requirement. Since we obviously cannot wait ten years for a product with an expected lifespan of ten years, we developed various simulations in which we first digitally assess whether the product is compliant and then expose the product to everything that can be expected within its lifespan. Examples include:

  • load simulations
  • water brake tests
  • torque and vibration measurements
  • FEM calculations
  • (extreme) temperature tests

Based on the conclusions of these tests, Research & Innovation will draw up clear protocols stating everything (and we mean everything) about the product. And that's a good thing, because an accurate validation process has quite a few stakeholders.

In this way, Engineering contributes to the excellent validation of each product, resulting in a much smaller chance of malfunctions and failure during use. This investment from our side results in an increase in certainty and a decrease in improvements that need to be implemented afterwards. And this results in a lot of happy customers.​

Many stakeholders in a good validation process

As a developer of after-sales products, we understand the importance of your end user more than any other production company. This user will benefit most from a rigorous validation procedure, because his/her work activities can really challenge your machine under certain conditions.

If your machine withstands these challenges time and again, you will save on service costs and receive the appreciation of the industry for the reliability of your product. In this way, you can place the product on the market with confidence. However, there are more stakeholders than just you and your end users. These stakeholders are the government and the European Union.

The interest of the government and the EU

The government and the European Union are stakeholders due to the fact that the rules in the area of testing are continuously changing. Examples include the changing environmental requirements, such as the emission requirements for agricultural engines, regulations concerning emission standards and improvements in power efficiency. These changes are reasons for us to invest even more in validation methods.

More requirements, less emissions and more economical engines. A positive development, but it also affects our products. When an engine becomes more economical, its characteristics change. This in turn affects our front PTO, for example, because it then has to react to more attenuated drive shafts.

It is partly for this reason that our validation process has gained a stronger position within our company, especially in the Engineering department.

How are customers involved in the testing process?

The manner in which we involve customers in the validation process depends on the customer. Some customers trust us to test correctly and approve the product when it meets their requirements. For these types of customers, we test according to our own protocol.

Other customers want to be involved in the entire testing process. It is important to create clear expectations in this case. Which tools and equipment will be used to perform the tests? And - an important question - who will pay for it? We communicate all of these matters clearly in advance, so that there are no misunderstandings.

Whether or not the customer wants to be fully involved in the validation process, a comprehensive inspection will be conducted once the product is finished. We will draw up a report, take photographs and submit this documentation to the customer. If desired, we will install the product in the machines of the customer, so that they can test it themselves. This is often the pilot product run.

Once the pilot production run is approved, we will perform some fine-tuning and start serial production.

Also read about the process from requesting to delivering a transmission in this article.

Would you like to know more about Engineering or our validation process?

A lot of work needs to be done before serial production can start. It is therefore understandable that you would like to have more information about our comprehensive validation process. Do you have any questions about this process, our products or the Engineering department specifically? You can find more information on our co-engineering page.

One of our product testing devices.

Ask our specialist

Martin Kalter - Sales Manager OEM

For more than 20 years Martin has been the internal expert in the field of gears and gearboxes. Being a strong communicator, his past as an engineer means he guides customer projects along the path to the best solution. 

See the testing possibilities for yourself

See the testing possibilities for yourself

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