Western Star Hell Original 2

All-new Western Star truck ‘put through hell’

Sept. 10, 2020
DTNA’s next-generation vocational vehicle endures ‘extreme and grueling’ testing by product validation engineering team

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) says the all-new Western Star vocational truck is its toughest yet after enduring “extreme and grueling” testing conditions designed by its product validation engineering (PVE) team.

The manufacturer said the new truck also is the most tested truck in company history.

“Vocational customers work in the most challenging environments in the world; places where durability and uptime are crucial,” said David Carson, senior vice president of DTNA’s vocational segment. “We have put the next Western Star through its paces to ensure this truck surpasses their expectations. We have a hard-earned reputation for dependability, for reliability, and for toughness that our customers know they can count on when they get to the job site and on the journey there. And we have delivered for them.” 

The structures lab at DTNA houses full-vehicle and cab-only shaker tables to accelerate durability testing and find breakage years before vehicles get to testing on the road or in the field. Capable of violently manipulating the vehicle on both X- and Y-axes to simulate a lifetime of extreme use in customer hands, the shaker tables can replicate approximately 1 million miles of real-world use in under two months of testing in the lab, the company said. For a vocational truck, the validation of the next Western Star’s cab and chassis components started early in the development process and yielded new, internal standards for durability.

For different loading conditions, a ‘bed plate’ test simulated extreme maneuvers on the chassis and specific components to ensure full capability, while a ‘frame twist’ test cycle was repeated 10,000 times to provide a solid foundation for the new truck and make sure it could withstand the rigors of the toughest vocational operating environments regardless of application or body equipment installed. 

In order to match the unyielding strength and durability requirements with a maximum focus on driver safety, the PVE team at DTNA destroyed numerous cabs with multiple cab crushing tests. The pendulum test imparted force to the top corners of the cab while the roof strength test applied extra force to the roof to exhaust its strength. Both tests yielded invaluable test data for the new, lighter cab design to ensure it matched and surpassed the performance of other Western Star trucks. Cab impact tests are conducted while the trucks are equipped with a number of sensors and cameras to collect 200 unique data points, all of which are used to deliver safety-focused vehicles to customer fleets and their operators.  

DTNA’s High Desert Proving Grounds in Madras OR lies 120 miles southeast of DTNA’s Portland headquarters. At an elevation of 2,390 feet, and with 10,000-foot tall peaks within a 50-mile radius, the high desert of central Oregon lets engineers test in snow, rain and blistering heat during the summer months.

Expanded in 2017 with an investment of $18.7 million, the 87-acre High Desert Proving Grounds offers a test loop of 3½ miles that allows engineers to simulate and compress a typical vehicle’s full service life into as little as seven months, DTNA said. The tailored road surfaces of the Proving Grounds provide a high fidelity test track for the engineers and technicians.

Unique for vocational applications, the punishing logging roads of northwest Canada where Western Star was born and where customers continue to operate in an unforgiving wilderness, were replicated at the track, allowing engineers to test against exactly the same road types traversed by customers in the harshest conditions. This allows the engineers to learn from the responses of the truck, discover issues further in the validation process, and fix them at a 14-bay development facility on-site.

These tests are a few highlights of the full testing regimen to which the next Western Star was subjected. DTNA said the world will get its first look at the new Western Star truck on Sept. 29. Visit westernstartrucks.com to learn more.