The roadmap of a Brink towbar: from development to installation

There is a lot to consider when developing a new aftermarket towbar. It takes an average of 15 weeks to market a new towbar. The development process involves many testing and checking moments to ensure a high-quality and safe towbar. A towbar goes through 8 stages before it is delivered to the garage for installation. Development starts with the inventory of new cars that come on the market.

Phase 1 – the inventory

Every quarter an overview is drawn up with the car types that will soon be on the market. Based on this information, the sales team draws up a wish list of car types for which we want to develop a towbar. We also make a forecast of the number of towbars and the variants we expect to sell. A team has been appointed that is exclusively devoted to develop towbars for the aftermarket. This team consists of various disciplines, including engineers, production personnel, quality employees and employees from our workshop.

Phase 2 – 3D scan of the car

The choice is made to develop a new towbar. The engineer first checks whether there is already a towbar available within Brink’s range that is built for the same platform. If this is the case, we get the car to our workshop for a so-called fitting check. Where necessary, the manual is adapted and the new data of the vehicle is added. New vehicles are brought to Brink and scanned by means of a 3D scanner. This records the mounting points and maps the entire rear of the car.

3D scan of the car

Phase 3 – modeling the towbar

As soon as the 3D scan is available, it will be uploaded to a 3D CAD drawing program. The engineer will now start to model the towbar and determine the position of the towball. He performs a FEM analysis on the towbar. This is a digital strength analysis that maps out where the strengths and weaknesses lie in the towbar. The maximum towing weight and the maximum vertical load are simulated within the program.

The aim is to make the towbar as light as possible within the safety requirements. There are several reasons for developing a light towbar. A light towbar provides more ease of installation for the mechanic. In addition, a light towbar is more environmentally friendly and cheaper. A lower weight of the tow bar means less tire wear and lower fuel consumption.

FEM analysis

Phase 4 – the towbar prototype

Then it is time to build a prototype. The 3D model is converted to 2D production drawings and the parts are made in the workshop. As soon as the prototype is ready, the towbar is sent to the Brink test center where it is subjected to the R55 test. The R55 test is the European standardized test, simulating a dynamic situation. The towbar is subjected to 2 million cycles, which is comparable to the life of a towbar. After the test, the towbar is injected with a contrast liquid that reveals tiny cracks that would otherwise not be visible by the naked eye. Does the towbar come out undamaged? Then he moves on to the next phase. If the towbar is not completely in order, the engineer returns to the drawing board.

The towbar is tested in the test center

Phase 5 – making the welding mold

In the next step, the engineer finishes the drawings, the towbar is entered into the ERP system and the cost price is determined. The workshop starts working on the means of production. The colleagues in the workshop make a welding mold, so that the towbar can soon be produced in series. Also fitting templates are made to verify that there are no deviations. During this phase, the first draft of the installation manual is also made.

Phase 6 – physical check

A physical fitting check now takes place in the workshop. The towbar is fitted to the car to be 100% sure that the towbar can be mounted flawlessly and easily. It is determined whether the towbar is within tolerances to ensure a high quality product. At this stage, the installation manual is fully completed.

Phase 7 – trial series and TÜV / VCA approval application

As soon as it has been established that the towbar, the test results and the welding mold are in order, the application for approval can be submitted to the TÜV / VCA. In the meantime, a test series of 10 pieces is being made. The trial series is produced in 5 steps with control moments.

1. The individual parts are produced and checked by the measurement department.
2. The bag with all loose parts is assembled. Think of the mounting materials, manual, ball and loose parts.
3. The beam part is welded. There is an extra check on the dimensions so that the towbar fits perfectly on the car.
4. The tow bars are coated and a complete product is put together.
5. This product goes to the measuring room where it is completely disassembled for a final inspection.

Phase 8 – the first production run

As soon as phase 7 has been completed and the approval of the TÜV / VCA has been received, the first production series can be made and the tow bars are released for sale. The towbars can then be ordered via the Brink order portal.

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