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Lubricant test development in the United States -one country, with one principal language and a relatively small group of trade associations -often seems dogged with disagreement and delays. Imagine, then, trying to reach consensus in the European Union, with its 25 member countries, 23 official languages, and myriad associations, OEMs and interest groups. Somehow, Europe has learned to make it work, thanks in no small part to the Coordinating European Council -a largely unheralded organization that is rising in importance.

Here and on page 14, LubesnGreases takes at look at CECs operational structure, the off-camera people who drive the work forward, and how well it meets its essential mission: test development.

CEC is shorthand for the Coordinating European Council for the Development of Performance Tests for Transportation Fuels, Lubricants and Other Fluids – a mouthful which Ripleys may one day recognize as the longest English name of a technical body in recorded history. Roughly comparable to ASTM, the principal mission of this uniquely European organization is exactly what its full name indicates: test development for lubricants and fuels.

It does this through dozens of technical working groups, manned by nearly 500 volunteers from oil and additive companies, vehicle manufacturers and test laboratories across Europe. They make certain that all current CEC tests, plus development of new tests, are managed in a way that generates confidence in their continuing value -and in CECs operational credibility.

CECs eight-member Management Board recognizes that the organizations ongoing health depends on successful and timely test development. (If we fail here, there is nothing else, former board member David Covey once pointed out to LubesnGreases.) While CEC is chartered in Belgium and its Management Board usually meets in Brussels,its secretariat, Interlynk Administrative Services Ltd., is based in Leicestershire, in central England.

A key factor in CECs operation is the effective work of our Secretariat, David Pipe told LubesnGreases,ina September meeting with the CEC board. Their professionalism allows the board, sitting around this table and meeting for less than a day every six to eight weeks, to focus our efforts in a timely way on our principal issue -test development -without getting sidetracked or bogged down in a multitude of day-to-day operational matters.

Murmurs of agreement and nods around the table met Pipes assessment. It was refreshing to hear a group of senior technical managers acknowledging the crucial role that support staff plays. These off camerafunctions -not only in CEC, but in the vast spectrum of organizations worldwide -are often under-appreciated.

Interlynk Administrative Services supports the board as well as its committee substructure. Theres a huge amount of detail involved in test development and the ongoing operations of the 38 CEC Working Groups and four Support Groups, remarked LynDearling, Interlynks director. Further,we complete these tasks with only three people on staff, but we are supported by a team of specially selected and experienced subcontractors. Fees for these services are shared equally by the four CEC member trade associations. (Board members and working group participants arent paid, of course; their companies support them.)

Also, Dearling added, We manage the CEC website [], where all CEC business is recorded and most of our 45 test methods and other publications are compiled and accessible. Nearly 800 people have authorized passwords to the website, mostly from European organizations but also from the Far East and North America. Access to the vast majority of information on the website is restricted to those directly involved in the specific activity. The website has become a worldwide resource, and it too is continually evolving and updated to make it more user compatible.

While Interlynks administrative skills help keep the organization on track, it is the 38 Working Groups and four Support Groups that provide CECs intellectual and technical foundation. Their scope is indicated by their titles: Test Development, Test Surveillance, Statistical Development, Reference Fuels, Reference Oils, Ratings, Analytical, Bench Test Support, Special Project and Liaison groups. Membership is drawn from across Europe and requires active participation.

Individual groups select their chairmen, subject to ratification by the Management Board. In practice, technical groups manage their own affairs and solve their own problems, outgoing CEC Chairman Meinrad Signer told LubesnGreases in September.On occasion the board gets involved when a working group asks for specific guidance. Our meeting minutes are available to group members and we prepare a brief PowerPoint presentation periodically for each chairman to keep his group members informed on what we are doing. To keep workload limits in hand, each of our board members is assigned an area for working group oversight. For example, David Pipe is responsible for lubricant issues, Nigel Elliott for fuels issues and Derek Mackney for quality issues.

Every board member has an assigned issues area and monitors reports from working groups. The process allows us to spread out the workload, said Signer,who is with Iveco.

In short, theres constant information flow. Technical working groups complete their work, prepare a report and post it on the CEC website. The board does the same. While CEC is a very lean structure, Signer added, it rests on the foundation of understanding that each of our working groups acts on their own.

To show how CEC groups function, lets look at two of them: the Statistical Development Group and the Test Development Group.

Support Our Groups

Infineum UKs Chris Gray has participated in the CEC Statistical Development Group for 10 years and chaired it for the last two. This is an eight-membersupport group, responsible for offering statistical assistance to each of the 38 Working Groups. Each Statistical Development Group member holds responsibility for anumber of groups, depending on their experience and the complexity of the issue. Gray,for example, supports five groups. It takes two years for a new member to get comfortable with our procedures, and we have to be proactive to makesure we have enough members to cover the workload,he said.

All SDG decisions are made by consensus, defined as agreement without dissent, Gray explained, adding,SDG members dont represent their company when we have a meeting; they focus on the technical task at hand, so there are no company issues that impede action. We talk out the issue and come to a consensus decision.

For some time Europe has had a test registration and monitoring program for engine tests, patterned on the one used in the United States. However, Gray pointed with obvious pride to a recent expansion of the CEC program to include bench tests, which are not covered in the U.S. version.

He explained, Europe has 18 bench tests which are used for setting requirements in the ACEA Oil Sequences or in fuel or transmission fluids specs. We wanted to set up a system where we could monitor these tests in a similar way to engine tests, but without the need to register candidate oil tests.

A key issue which we recognized early on is that bench tests are usually shorter and run far more frequently than engine tests, requiring a more responsive system. Up until this point we had monitored bench tests by conducting round robins -just as ASTM does annually in the U.S. But with this approach, it sometimes can take up to 18 months to collect and analyze the data, and youre in the dark on how the test was running until then. That is a problem.

Gray went on, In CEC we undertook a pilot program to monitor three bench tests. We worked with the engine test monitoring agency,Registration System Inc. in San Antonio, developed software that allowed labs to enter data for each bench test run for these three tests, and immediately compare it with incoming results from other labs. Its also instantly available for review by the working group and the SDG member. There was no time delay,aswith round robins, and labs were able to make quick modifications. Transparency has increased, test monitoring is instantaneous -its a win-win for everyone. And we are proud of our success to date.

Our objective was getting the European labs to see the merit of this approach compared to round robins, which they were used to and comfortable with. That has happened, theyre on board, Gray noted. A fundamental confidence-building issue was ensuring that data are handled in complete confidence; only the working group for each test has access to the data. Further, data availability in continuously updated trend-lines has proven to be a useful management tool, as well.

Since the Statistical Development Group launched this effort, weve added three further tests to the monitoring battery and another two are under way, Gray concluded. We expect to complete the rest within 18 months. This is a significant step forward in maintaining the quality of key industry tests. Its certainly something that our U.S. colleagues could consider,and there may be some value in discussing our experiences with them.

Steering a Wear Test

Michael Schulz, manager of engine test development at the independent laboratory ISP, in Germany, chairs the Test Development Group, now at work on anew heavy-duty engine wear test.

To measure diesel engine wear, Europe is currently using the OM602A engine test, he said, which has a test run time of 200 hours. But it is now almost 10 years old, hardware is nearly gone and the technology it uses is very old (almost20years), and out of date.

A year ago the European automobile manufacturers association, ACEA, asked CEC to develop a replacement for this test. It wanted anew test to measure cam, tappet and cylinder wear,and bore polishing. DaimlerChrysler volunteered to supply the test engine -the Mercedes Benz OM646LA, 4-cylinder, 2.2-liter common rail, direct injection engine.

For CECs purposes, this wont be a multi-parameter test, but Daimler-Chrysler expects to use it for its own in-house specifications, and to measure added parameters such as piston and engine cleanliness and timing-chain elongation.

CECs Management Board responded promptly to ACEAs request, developing a tender proposal and soliciting bids. After evaluating the responses, it awarded the contract to ISP,giving it one year to develop the engine test cycle and demonstrate repeatability. This is serious, costly work. Each test run, for example, requires a new engine, which costs about 10,000 (U.S. $13,000).

Ten sponsors -three oil companies, three additive suppliers and four independent labs -will share the total cost of creating this new test, which is expected to be in the region of 500,000 ($650,000). The work got under way in ISPs laboratory last April.

How is it going?

Sponsors meet frequently at our labs and are expected to provide technical support, ISPs Schulz said. We solve problems and make decisions at meetings, and in between I keep all sponsors informed with whats going on. We always have full attendance at meetings. If theres an issue with the engine hardware, for example, I can contact the builder,Mercedes Benz, and I also can and do ask for sponsors to provide specific additional expertise if I think its necessary.

Still, its not clear if the group will meet the one-year CEC goal for completion of the developmental work. We have encountered some problems, Schulz allowed. The test is running severe and we may have to run additional tests to work this out. And were dealing with fuel issues, such as biofuel and fuel dilution into the oil, and we really dont know how this will impact on the test.

But, he went on to remind, before CEC was restructured a few years ago, it would take much longer to produce a test. For example, the current test, which our development will replace, 10 years ago took two to three years to develop -and we are trying to do the replacement in about a year. We get good support and response from CEC and the process doesnt need any changes. Its fine as it is.

The developmental work is held in strict confidence and only sponsors are involved in or aware of the technical detail. (The same process is now being used for the development of the new ASTM fuel economy test, Sequence VID.)

Despite tough issues,such as severity,that will need to be resolved, Schulz wrapped up with optimism. I think we will get to phase two, around robin to test repeatability and discrimination, quite close to the planned date.

Dear Readers,

This is my final column as Automotive Editor.Thank you for your attention and comments.

-David McFall

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