Flanders Make makes available unique test benches to validate modern drivetrains

Drivetrain manufacturers are looking for ways to make their products more reliable and perform better. Today's drive systems have to meet ever higher requirements, scoring better in terms of power density and energy efficiency. This is a result of the search for cost-efficiency and better performing, more compact and sustainable solutions for driving industrial machines and vehicles. Validation of drive systems or components is therefore essential to make cost-efficient decisions leading to the development of innovative drivetrains.


Benefits of a test bench

For the validation of modern drivetrains, one can perform tests on a complete machine or on a test bench, where only part of the machine is integrated and the rest is emulated. Testing on a complete system requires considerable design, development and installation efforts. A test bench offers the advantage that only the relevant machine or vehicle part must be integrated into the bench and one can quickly start testing on it. Testing can be done early in the design process, so there is no need to develop an expensive, completely finished prototype. In addition, a test bench is located in a safe environment and repeated tests under different conditions can be carried out more easily in a controlled setting.

Flanders Make makes available multiple unique test infrastructures to help companies to innovate better and faster. Below, we will highlight 2 of our modular test benches.

1. Closed calorimeter test bench

Measuring the energy losses of drivetrains

In order to develop this new generation of drivetrains, it is crucial to understand and measure the energy losses in detail. To this end, Flanders Make @ UGent offers a unique test bench on its campus in Kortrijk where a drivetrain is placed in a completely closed calorimeter. By using a calorimeter, energy losses in components (electric machines, transmissions...) can be mapped. The set-up allows to directly measure these losses at a certain temperature with a very high accuracy (<1%). This method is much more accurate than current measuring methods where energy losses are estimated through input-output relationships.



An infrared high-speed camera acquires additional thermal information and collects detailed data about rapidly rotating parts. The measuring procedure was validated on a gearbox and motor from Dana, a world leader in drive systems. The set-up is flexible and can test many combinations of electric motors, transmissions and power electronics thanks to the numerous available power sources, cooling methods, sensors and load emulators. It can even be fully customised to meet specific customer needs.

Would you like to know more about this test set-up? Review the digital opening event here

2. Modular multi-load test bench

Simulations for efficiency and service life testing

Flanders Make’s modular multi-load test bench contains several motors that can emulate different wheel and motor speeds, combined with various loads. It has been developed for testing systems with multiple rotational connections or loads, as we find in many industrial machines and vehicles.

Each motor is equipped with a torque sensor that allows us to collect accurate efficiency and service life data. The extension with a real-time target machine uses the synchronous high-speed communication protocol PROFINET and thus ensures fast and reliable communication between the motor and sensors at 4kHz. This enables us to build properly performing hardware-in-the-loop set-ups.


Flanders Make test set-up

modular-test-bench-1In our example, the virtual environment consists of 4 traction motors emulating the wheels and 1 motor emulating the power source. In order to mimic that environment as accurately as possible, fast and reliable synchronised communication between the 5 traction motors and the real-time system, on which the machine model is running, is absolutely essential.

With synchronous communication at 4kHz we are able to accurately map the dynamic properties of a system. This has enormous advantages over asynchronous and slower communication.

The torque sensors are combined with a controller on the real-time target machine that enables precise control of the traction motors. This gives us a detailed insight into the dynamics of the tested device.

Thanks to the fast and synchronous PROFINET communication between the real-time target and the traction motors at 4kHz, this modular test bench contains many unique features and offers various test and validation possibilities:

  • High-frequency durability tests in terms of Noise, Vibrations and Harshness are gaining in importance with electric drivetrains.
  • Powerful real-time target machine to test the performance of control systems at 4kHz.
  • Different connection possibilities: digital, analogue, CAN... High-frequency signals up to 60MHz can be sampled as well using the already available FPGA interface.

You wish to have your drivetrain validated?

Do the drivetrain challenges sound familiar to your company? Would you like to optimise your drive systems?
Contact us or discover our facilities for testing drivetrains.

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Thanks to colleague Jasper De Smet for his contribution to this article. 

Jeroen De Maeyer - Business developer at FlandersMake@UGent

Jeroen De Maeyer - Business developer at FlandersMake@UGent

Jeroen De Maeyer has been a business developer at FlandersMake@UGent since 2018. Jeroen holds a doctorate in electrical engineering, previously worked as a project leader in the industry and has more than 10 years of experience as a business developer at UGent, previously for the energy sector and more recently for the manufacturing industry.

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