FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Bosch has invested approximately $8 million to renovate its vehicle test track in Flat Rock, Mich., to provide a state-of-the-art facility that will be used to test a variety of automotive technologies.
The renovation included repaving and expanding the surface size of the site’s Vehicle Dynamics Area, and reconfiguring the test facility to accommodate Bosch’s vehicle dynamics and foundation brake testing. Facility improvements include expansion of the pad size from 417,000 to 937,000 square feet; addition of a three-lane high bank curve; extension of the track loop from 3/4-mile to 1.4 miles; and the installation of a hydroplane surface.
"This proactive investment in the expansion of our testing facility provides us with the necessary means to continue to bring innovative safety technologies to market," said Ronaldo Reimer, regional president, Chassis Systems Control Division, Bosch North America. "The current state of the economy puts even greater focus on finding the right balance between running a leaner, smarter business while also having the tools and products necessary to continue to advance innovation to meet future needs and requirements."
Plans for the Vehicle Dynamics Area renovation began in August 2007. After breaking ground in May 2008, the renovation of the Vehicle Dynamics Area required 13,000 hours of labor and was completed on time and within targeted budget in November 2008.
Since its original design in 1989, the Flat Rock facility has served as a key tool in Bosch’s development of crash avoidance technologies intended to help reduce U.S. vehicle-related fatalities. A leader in advanced safety systems and first-to-market with proven systems such as electronic stability control (ESC), Bosch ensures its systems meet real-world driving requirements through rigorous testing like that performed at its facility in southeast Michigan. The Flat Rock facility is one of three Bosch proving grounds located in the U.S. and one of seven Bosch proving grounds worldwide, serving a variety of manufacturers and suppliers in the light vehicle, heavy truck, recreational vehicle and bus industries. One of the facility’s test surface areas, the Vehicle Dynamics Area contains both wet and dry asphalt and can accommodate high-speed straight line stops.
In addition to offering considerable economic significance, the renovation project demonstrates Bosch’s dedication to the State of Michigan by improving its operations here, said the company. While seven Bosch associates are assigned to the site, up to 40 associates could be on site each day running various tests.
Bosch retained Ghafari Associates LLC of Dearborn, Mich., for the design of the new Bosch facility; D’Angelo Construction to manage the project construction; Dan’s Excavating for general contracting; as well as various other Michigan companies to support the project. Ghafari Associates was involved in the facility’s original design.
"This is a great example of Michigan companies collaborating to further develop and contribute to the success of our region," said Kay Stepper, director of marketing and product planning, Chassis Systems Control Division. "We valued the opportunity to collaborate with various local contractors to draw on our collective expertise," he said.
Stepper explained that the project required the removal of the existing track; installation of a new subgrade material which was improved with lime stabilization; installation of a new test track with a banked curve; hydroplane area; vehicle dynamics area; staging area and new storm water retention ponds; and the extension of electrical service for the test track storm water pumping area.
Bosch said its commitment to the environment has also been an important factor in its long tradition in technological advancement. Through sustainable design, environmental consciousness and sensitive land use, Bosch took specific measures within this project to preserve the environment. For example, green gravel shoulders were constructed using a blend of milled asphalt from the original pavement, clay and sand, providing a stable shoulder surface. In doing so, the project team was able to recycle the asphalt from the former Vehicle Dynamics Area, as well as reduce and/or avoid certain disposal costs.
"We also intend to rent this facility to automakers, automotive suppliers, government entities, media and others who are in need of this type of test track facility," said Stepper.