It takes a high-tech plant to build a high-tech automotive vehicle. Investments at the Renault plant in Palencia, Spain have enabled the facility to guarantee the best quality in terms of the manufacturing and operation of the All-new Renault Austral and its various features.
The vehicle contains no less than 32 advanced driver‑assistance systems (ADAS), including the latest-generation head-up display, with settings that were adjusted particularly painstakingly. Indeed, two new ultra-modern calibration benches were built to do just that. Sergio, the lead on new projects at the plant’s assembly department, comments that fine-tuning these two benches wasn’t easy due to a lighting issue. Here’s more about the problem, how they solved it and how the result is already benefitting the vehicles rolling out of this plant.
The entire Palencia plant applies the same high standards throughout, from the start of the production process through to the final checks, ensuring that the All-new Renault Austral leads the market in terms of quality. This was made possible thanks to the hard work of the employees as well as the use of new, ultra-high-performance tools, with stringent quality control guaranteeing the end result. In addition to quality that you can see, as shown by the fittings and finish, static and dynamic testing by both human and mechanical means have ensured quality that you can feel – making sure the technological equipment in the All-new Austral works properly and reliably, such as the 32 advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).
ADAS is the latest-generation head-up display, which measures 9.3 inches diagonally and projects driving information directly onto the windscreen. Processes have been put in place at the Palencia plant to guarantee its quality and optimal functioning. A small camera behind the dashboard, next to the projector that casts the information on the windscreen, constantly checks the quality of the display and adjusts it according to lighting conditions. The teams calibrate this system and check it is working properly at the end of the production line using what they call the “ADAS benches”. “Every Renault Austral with a head-up display goes through one of the two benches. At our plant, we not only assemble the head-up displays for the All-new Austral – we also adjust their settings and carry out checks. And we constantly build on our skills to guarantee the utmost quality.” says Sergio, the lead on new projects at the assembly department. He explains proudly that, “these calibration benches are used at plants with Alliance Standard Lines (ASL), the most advanced production standard within the Alliance.”
When the All-new Austral is on the test bench, the windscreen projection is calibrated using an ultra‑modern purpose-built camera fitted onto a high-tech articulated arm placed on the driver’s side of the cockpit. The camera checks whether the image projected by the head-up display is centred relative to the angle of the windscreen (3D position). To do that, it checks the image against a 48-point matrix providing the theoretical position. If necessary, the central computer tells the computer in the head-up display to adjust the points then checks again. “If the points don’t overlap with their theoretical position, the bench repeats the cycle until they do perfectly.” Sergio explains.
Black and Light
Nevertheless, Sergio also points out the difficulty his team faced ensuring that the camera calibrates correctly on the first go. But these two highly technological benches set specific physical limitations when they adjust the settings. “The hard part was keeping lighting conditions constant for the head‑up display camera. This was essential to calibrate it properly and ensure it functions perfectly in any lighting conditions.” says Sergio. “We also needed the area behind the windscreen to be clear. Otherwise, because the windscreen is transparent, the calibration was off.”
In the end, the solution came from a bright but ultimately very simple idea. “We ran many simulations, tests and analyses. But eventually we just installed a blackout curtain with a light source at ground level. When the ground-level light was at 300 lumens, it worked!” says a delighted Sergio. “This meant we didn’t have to build costly removable partitions, ensuring smooth movement in the traffic area.” It just goes to show that even the most high-tech equipment sometimes just needs a little help to work perfectly.
“We got what we wanted – ensuring the camera calibrates correctly on the first go. And it just takes two minutes. We have now reached the sweet spot where we are delivering top-quality Renault Austral cars to dealerships,” says Sergio. The two benches are running at full capacity; “they’re on non-stop, from 6 am to 10 pm, and have already clocked up 4,000 hours since we set them up.”