SOE Events

Design thinking in single vehicle type approval

28th Nov 2014
South Eastern

In November, the centre hosted a dual presentation from Dick Woods of Automotive Design & Development, and centre member Mike Jones MSOE MIRTE IEng, production director of Euromotive Commercials Ltd, who between them have 45 years in the industry. The duo talked about single vehicle type approval, and its implications for road transport and PSV industries.

Dick opened the presentation with a guide to the ‘how, what, where and when’ in design thinking:

It is easy to look at what was happening in the market place and produce your version of that product (allowing for relatively low cost production set up), but this doesn’t provide end users with a great deal of choice. Given this, what are the real needs of the users and operators?

Starting with the basics of market research, Dick presented the group with the thought process behind assessing whether there was an existing product for a specific job, what type of demand there would be for such a product, and how this dictates mass or specialised production requirements.

Other considerations that Dick presented included whether a product developed for the UK market could be carried across to other international markets, and what process would be required to achieve the relevant type approvals for the markets the product is being designed for.

Once these variables are known, Dick explained, a formal design needs to be drawn, with as much involvement from the end user as possible. Using current design technology, it is possible to produce 3D images of what the end product would look like.

This can then be presented to the client for approval, or modified to suit their operational demands, and may involve getting feedback from drivers, maintenance staff, H&S managers etc, making the product an accepted part of the daily operation.

To illustrate, Dick gave examples of his own successful worldwide design projects, including armour protection for police Land Rovers in Northern Ireland, firefighting equipment for use in Africa, anti-drug unit vehicles in South America, geological survey vehicles used globally, and a host of innovative mobile work stations for use around the world.

Mike Jones then took the reins and introduced the group to European whole vehicle type approval for CV’s and PSV’s. Mike’s background in this field includes eight years involved in European framework technical planning meetings with legislative bodies (SMMT, VCA and DVSA).

Mike explained that there are currently four groups of vehicle types, relating to different vehicle and weight categories, each with its own specific requirements. In the EU, he outlined, there are three ways to type approve:

1. Build a vehicle that can be mass produced (ie. identical in every way with no possible changes). This is what the base manufacturer does. (Whole vehicle type approval).

2. Build a vehicle as above, but add every possible option /extra that can be envisaged. Once this is approved, the options are then approved for use on other applications. This is what the mass production bodybuilders and aftermarket does. (Small series type approval).

3. Have each vehicle built as a ‘one-off’, and carry out an individual inspection (which is done by the DVSA at on appointed testing facility). This is what small, bespoke builders do.

Each inspection must be accompanied by supporting documentation to prove the validity of the application. For example, if a specific type of side lamp is to be fitted, this must conform to EU approvals, be stamped with the EU approval mark, and be supported by the lamp manufacture’s documentation. This would also apply across all parts and components, sub-units and complete units, which can then be applied to similar makes/models of vehicles.

Mike explained that, with each piece of legislation, the vehicle ULW increases, but the GVW remains the same. So, a line-built OE standard minibus with a GVW of 3500kgs, capable seating 14 people when converted for school / club bus use, will have a reduction in passenger carrying capacity due to the increases in ULW as a result of additional handrails, luggage racks etc., as demanded by legislation or a local authority.

Due to the addition of, for example, a hydraulic loader plus body conversion plus drawbar conversion, it is also possible that several converters may have to approve a single vehicle, which can be very expensive for the end user. Standard inspection fees range from approx. £500 to £5000 for IVA and NSSTA.

Each converter/body builder has to also constantly monitor and update the approvals and documentation for their equipment. To do this, it takes Euromotive Commercials approx. 50 hours per month – so, the greater the production capability, the more time is spent on support systems for production.

At the end of the presentation, both speakers answered questions from an audience who were reluctant to close what had been a very informative and enjoyable evening.

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