Water becomes a major problem when it enters a vehicle. You might guess that it leads to rust and would be right, but the problem goes much deeper than that. Which is why Mercedes is investing profusely in a moisture detecting RFID tag which will change their whole approach to vehicle testing.
Moisture: the Mortal Enemy of Your Transmission
First, let's review the most critical reason moisture is so deadly to vehicles:
When water gets inside of an automatic transmission, the friction lining of the clutches absorbs it and dissolves the glue that attaches the material to the clutch plates. Usually, some amount of water will come out of suspension and form white gummy masses in various areas of the unit. This is why the unit cannot be flushed to remove all of the water.
The amount of water and the length of time that it is inside of the vehicle will determine the extent of the damage, but the solution to this problem is often an overhaul of the entire transmission.
As a result of this, at Mercedes, there is an intense and meticulous process for testing for leaks. Leakage tests are a big deal, especially in the early stages of a production model. Newer concept cars, such as hybrids require more innovative testing methods. According to Mercedes they recently discovered an ideal way of testing these vehicles with a new RFID application.
“New vehicle technologies, such as cars with a hybrid drive, require the rethinking of test processes for quality control. RFID technology has the potential to become the basis for future leakage test methods”, says Dr. Axel Maykuß.
A Moisture Detecting Passive RFID
Together with its technology partner, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen has created a system based on passive RFID for measuring moisture in a new project. The innovative RFID labels are glued into the vehicles at the start of production. Following production and rain-proofing procedures, the capacity load can be determined using an RFID transponder to find out whether or not water has entered the vehicle.
Tests have already been carried out on two production start-ups. The results give genuine hope that RFID may be the most viable future method for the leakage testing of vehicles. In 2016, Mercedes-Benz and its technology partners will continue to work on this innovative use of RFID.
A Revolutionary Approach to Testing
To eliminate manual processes during leakage testing, the use of automated RFID is a revolutionary approach that currently has the best potential for successful implementation. The future implications of this is that the use of RFID should allow Mercedes-Benz to fully automate their vehicle quality control and that is truly revolutionary.
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