The world's first at Mercedes-Benz in Bremen: RFID detects leaks in cars

Mercedes-Benz in Bremen is testing a new RFID tag to detect moisture during leakage tests.

Water becomes a problem when it enters a vehicle. Therefore, extensive and meticulous leakage testing needs to be a standard procedure in vehicle finishing. Leakage tests are given a lot of attention, particularly in the early stages of a new production model.

Innovative car concepts, such as hybrid vehicles with additional components, require an equally innovative way of testing, since conventional methods are no longer applicable. A promising approach is a completely new RFID application for the Bremen plant – Mercedes-Benz is in the process of planning this with a technology partner.

From Dr. Axel Maykuß, Team Leader for exteriors and car tightness in joint development, Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen:

The requirement for high-quality production is not just evident within Mercedes-Benz – the end-users, in particular, have high expectations of the manufacturing quality of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, no matter what model. This includes the need for a vehicle to be absolutely water-tight so water cannot enter through closed windows, doors and hatchbacks.

Neither rainwater from a downpour, nor car wash cleaning water, nor water from high pressure cleaners is allowed to enter the vehicle interior. Elements that are not a challenge in contemporary series production must, however, be carefully monitored during the start-up production of a new car model. It takes a few weeks until a manufacturing process is 100 per cent trouble-free and error-free. It is only when all the components have the required size accuracy, all seals have the correct shore hardness and all employees have internalised all the production steps that the series production can run smoothly. The integration of additional control devices, batteries and wiring harnesses has dramatically changed the demands on quality control during the production start-up phase.

"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.

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