BMW tests exhausts with thermal imaging

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BMW is using thermal imaging to conduct quality control tests on car exhaust systems at its site in Dingolfing in Germany. The site is responsible for the manufacture of the BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo, 5-Series, 6-Series and 7-Series.

The Flir A-series thermal imaging cameras are being used to test when the exhaust flaps on a vehicle with a dual exhaust system become engaged. Each car is tested on a dynamometer test rig which was previously mounted with two thermal imaging cameras. However, the A-series cameras are fitted with a 45° lens that is able to image the entire end of the vehicle from a distance of approximately two metres.

The A-Series camera generates an analogue thermal imaging video signal of the exhaust flow at a frame rate of 30Hz. The camera on each of the dynamometer rigs transmits real time images of the exhaust systems to a monitor at the front of each vehicle. From this the inspector can see if the flap is functioning properly from changes in the thermal profile.

While twin tail pipes are a common feature on BMW vehicles with V8 engines, the BMW M5’s second tail pipe is only activated at a specified RPM. This means the inspection method has to be flexible to allow the specific characteristics of each model to be checked.

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