Whether in long-distance, suburban or subway trains, or in trams: Air springs and air spring systems from ContiTech Railway Engineering (CRE) are operating along many tracks around the world. Quality and service have made the rail-vehicle experts from Hannover the world leaders in primary and secondary suspension. And this is not just a coincidence: To ensure that quality requirements are met, ContiTech makes use of an ingenious test package that is unique in the international rail industry.

“Safety and reliability play a crucial role in our air spring systems. That’s why a major part of our investments goes into test technology. The products designed to meet our customers’ requirements of can be tested under real-world conditions, and important information can be obtained about the optimum design for the as-installed state”, says CRE project manager Olaf Philipp.

Unique in the industry is a test park that includes a multi-axial test stand that can simulate the in-service conditions of an air spring in a bogie in three axial and two rotational directions. “We can find out how the bogie performs when subjected to braking, accelerating and negotiating bends under various conditions and hence gain important findings about the interaction of air spring system and bogie”, explains Philipp. The benefits: Stress limits of air spring systems can be ascertained at an early development stage, customers are given useful advice on bogie designs.

ContiTech also conducts extensive climatic-chamber testing. After all, the air springs have to operate reliably in the tropics and in the bitter cold of Scandinavian or Siberian winters. “In climate chambers” according to Philipp, “we can realistically simulate all ambient temperatures they have to contend with. At the request of our customers we can test our products at temperatures between – 90 and + 180 °C, and blend the compounds for the conditions the products will have to withstand.

An important integral part of the test park is a high-frequency test stand that examines the dynamic behavior of elastomer products. In the test facilities our products are subjected to different temperature influences under loads up to 1000 kN and vibrations up to 250 Hz. In this way it is established how products perform under the conditions they are likely to encounter when installed in high-speed trains.

“Our capability in test engineering not only helps us to maintain our technology lead, but, taken in combination with the various design programs at our disposal, is also of direct benefit to our customers, as we can respond quickly and reliably to their needs” sums up CRE segment manager Friedrich Hoppmann.