Conti Calls on Students to Assist in Tyre Wear Research
Engineering students at one German university are contributing to future tyre development through a programme with Continental. The manufacturer is cooperating with students from the University of Karlsruhe on research into passenger car tyre durability, and work so far has including the designing and construction of a test unit that was subsequently fitted and operated with different, realistic road surfaces.
“As Europe’s leading tyre manufacturer, we naturally test the durability of our products” explained Jörg Graser, project head at Continental. “To do this, though, we use a standard road surface. The aim of this project is to see the long-term effect of other surfaces on the durability of the tyres, in other words, on rubber wear.” So far, according to Graser, virtually no studies or field trials have looked at this aspect.
Continental has opted to utilise a project management system approach during this cooperation rather than a traditional university seminar style. Graser explained the reasons behind this decision: “That way we could give students the chance of experiencing this type of process already during their course of studies, teaching them to plan their time and use their resources more efficiently. What we did was to split the task up into various steps and stages, and in-between there were regular meetings for the individual team members. This enabled them to discuss any problems and potential solutions, and also to clear up any misunderstandings.”
In the next stage the budding engineers will begin the trials and test rubber samples on the various road surfaces. These will be examined under realistic conditions and the causes of wear looked into thoroughly. “To date we have identified the importance of the macro- and micro-structure of the surfaces” commented Graser. “However, we are still at a theoretical stage and we look forward to starting the real tests very soon.”