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The Bridgestone “European Proving Ground” (EUPG): State-of-the-art and vital component of European R&D strategy.

Feb, 02 2015

Bridgestone inaugurated its advanced European Proving Ground at Aprilia, 30 km South from Bridgestone’s Technical Center Europe (TCE) near Rome, in June 2004. Covering 144 hectares and dominated by a 4-km oval circuit, this facility gives Bridgestone the most modern year-round tyre testing assets in Europe.

New-generation tyres for passenger cars, commercial vans, trucks, buses, agricultural vehicles and motorcycles are tested on this ultimate Proving Ground. Its initial construction was part of a major and still ongoing Bridgestone Europe investment plan in research, manufacturing and marketing, and is dramatic proof of the Company’s commitment to expand business in Europe.

Precision testing on all types of surface

One of the most advanced proving grounds in the tyre world, EUPG is designed specifically for testing tyres and is engineered with state-of-the -art road-making equipment. Very tight tolerances guarantee total flatness, providing extremely precise and detailed measurements with subjective and objective evaluations unaffected by noise interference. Various specific materials and combinations provide a wide range of surfaces, representative of most road conditions in Europe.

Its size and perfect constantly-monitored asphalt conditions offer Bridgestone and its vehicle- manufacturing customers an infinite number of possible manoeuvers and tests in full safety and controllable conditions. 

High-speed testing

The “star” of the site is a 4-km oval that offers a 15 m-wide northern straight with four lanes and a 35 m-wide southern straight with nine lanes. The configuration allows severe lane changes to be carried out by high-performance cars at speeds of up to 250 km/h.

The banked curves have a maximum angle of 37°, allowing high-speed road-holding tests, in particular those geared towards the development of ultra-high-performance rubber. Performances checked by drivers on this track include high-speed lane change, linearity, straight-line stability, slalom and throttle release.

At the other end of the spectrum, slower tests for steering linearity and slalom work can also be undertaken on the wide straights for the complete range of Bridgestone and Firestone tyres.

Complete data

Located inside the oval is a 9-hectares black lake for dynamics testing of acceleration, braking and cornering in a variety of vehicles. Much of this dynamic testing verifies data obtained from Technical Center Europe modeling and simulations software.

A unique advantage of EUPG is that the oval and dynamic square are connected. This provides drivers with the possibility to increase speed up to the limit and enter the dynamic square at full speed, in absolutely safe conditions, performing all the manoeuvers they may need to get the most complete information from the track. 

A dry handling facility 4km-long and 8m-wide is also a part of the test site. The complete track offers a range of high-, medium- and low-speed areas with different corners, radiuses and slopes. Here, drivers check all areas of dry handling performance such as lateral stability, steering precision, load transfer and grip.

For the development of tyres that meet EU directives and ECE regulations on tyre/road noise, EUPG offers a pass-by noise testing straight. Further noise development work comes courtesy of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) tracks, each 400 m x 3.2 m, with a capacity of up to ten.

Advanced wet facilities

A group of five surfaces within a skid-pad area is used for lateral wet-skid adhesion on different friction coefficients (diameters 60-140 m).

A pool with an automatic water sprinkling and recuperation system is available to test bi-directional cornering hydroplaning (clockwise-counterclockwise) performances.

On the other hand, longitudinal hydroplaning is evaluated on a straight lane (120 m x 5 m) with an advanced water sprinkler combination system that is able to fill up either the complete lane, or the right or left side separately, depending on the test requirement.

Dry and wet braking lanes (120 m x 3.5 to 7.5 m) with asphalt and concrete surfaces are also available on the site. 

Two tractor circles (75 m diameter - 7 m width), for tread and carcass endurance and durability tests can be found in the same area, with an agricultural/truck and bus garage available next to the tracks.

The wet handling track (1.6 km x 8 m) with its large range of corner radiuses offers the possibility to test standard and high-performance vehicles at different speeds. An advanced wetting system with water recuperation flooding from the ground allows drivers to test continuously on water without time-wasting delays.

A separate soft handling track (3.9 km) simulates a country road environment. Thanks to different asphalts, drivers are able to evaluate both comfort and handling performances in a “real life” scenario. 

A dedicated area is also reserved for specific European labelling tests.

This comprehensive year-round testing facility enables Bridgestone to carry out all necessary outdoor tests, both subjective and objective, on dry and wet surfaces together in one location, offering Bridgestone a strategic advantage in the effort to meet ever more challenging tyre performance targets.

Bridgestone’s European Training Center

Bridgestone has inaugurated its European Education Center (EUEC) inside the area of EUPG in May 2005. EUEC is both the Bridgestone Training Center of excellence and its Communication Center. The role of EUEC is therefore to convey Bridgestone’s know-how and DNA to internal and external stakeholders through technical and commercial trainings as well as through visits and events.

The training center being located by EUPG also means the opportunity to provide delegates with a complete and efficient learning process, with lectures in the equipped classrooms, practical workshops on tyre mounting/dismounting and wheel diagnosis in the garages equipped with the state-of-the-art machineries, and a real test-drive of Bridgestone products on a dedicated track, in a safe test environment.