We recently returned from a short stay in China where we were invited to explore Bosch’s wiper manufacturing plant situated just outside of Changsha. Being the capital of Hunan Province, Changsha is more famously known as the birthplace of the much-revered Chairman Mao.
The following are the leisure bits that we have opted to remark and the serious points that we’ve noted.
The “Being-A-Tourist” Part
Upon settling comfortably in our top-notch accommodation nestled in the heart of chilly Changsha, we were quickly showered with the offerings of this “new city” with a population of 7 million.
A quick visit to Chairman Mao’s former learning facility, which apparently has been around for more than a thousand years, was followed by a lavish meal of various local delicacies, our introduction to Changsha was topped off with a casual walkaround the “Bukit Bintang” of Changsha city on foot – wowed endlessly by the overwhelming night skyline.
And surprisingly, it is well kept, maintained and very metropolitan too.
The Factory Tour Part
For anyone who has owned and maintained a vehicle, the Bosch name would only be as foreign as the McDonalds brand to a fast food enthusiast, with their extensive provision of aftermarket parts over the years. Upon arrival, the environment within the 82,000sqm premise played out to be every bit as we imagined - a factory of Bosch’s stature to be; clean and somber, organised and modern.
But the environment was far from subdued behind those secured doors which on a rare occasion were opened to representatives from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and even Australia for this trip.
Designed without the traditional metal frame, Bosch’s pioneering flat blade which is now the choice of automotive manufacturers for an estimated 90% of new cars in Europe. This has reshaped the wiper industry, where for years the conventional wiper blades have been the standard.
Throughout the entire plant tour, we were educated and exposed to the rigors that these wipers go through, as summarised below, before they get clipped up on our wiper arms.
Aspects of Quality Measurement
While the purpose of the end product is merely to wipe your windscreen, the attention to detail paid to aspects of quality measurement and control were beyond comprehension. The plant here offers the widest range of wiper-system assembly-products in Bosch’s plants worldwide.
It’s no surprise then that the plant is the OEM supplier of wipers to more than 20-automotive manufacturers. To match growing demands of such a long clientele list, the output capabilities of this plant is at 10,000 units per day; with 14 million units produced since 2007.
With such significant output figures, every aspect of the wipers are subjected to error proof tests to prevent failures. These failures would also be detected via simulation tests using systematic tools. And the spectrum of test stretches far and wide, covering the biggest components to the smallest details.
The stringent quality controls even cover areas like the torque on the wiper arm’s nut, the wiper covers, the mounting dimensions (length and angle), and even the weight of the grease for the rod!
They Get Scalded.
Upon parking your car, under the sun, do you lift those wipers up and make them stand upright? Well most of us are guilty of that. The concern? That the wipers would melt and harden on the windscreen perhaps? It happens to be a myth that is widely believed.
During the high temperature tests, these wiper blades are exposed to temperatures as high as 70⁰ Celcius and left to endure the heat for a solid 100 hours without a sign of deterioration.
And what’s the highest temperature Kuala Lumpur has seen? 40-odd⁰ Celcius? Safe to say you’re covered there!
They Get Stretched.
The wiper’s blades also go through what Bosch calls, the OZONE RESISTANCE TEST. Essentially, the rubber gets stretched by an extra 15% of its original length and stored in an Ozone-Free environment.
Subsequently, it's stored in an Ozone atmosphere with 60% humidity at temperatures of 25⁰ Celcius to 28⁰ Celcius for a total of 46 hours as the rubber compound tends to crack upon being exposed to the Ozone.
Upon completion of the 46 hours, it is discovered that there aren’t any cracks visible on the blades even at 20x magnification.
They Get The "Wind and Fire".
These wipers go through a whole barrage of punishment from the elements. Not only do they have to deal with and perform in some of the coldest parts of the world, they’re also developed to deal with the warmest climates imaginable.
As such, there was a “chamber” within the plant that Bosch uses to simulate these extreme temperatures from as low as -15⁰ Celcius to as high as 80⁰ Celcius to determine the limits of the rubber compound.
So what do you think? With its foundations spanning over 125 years, the Bosch brand has been an immense part of our everyday lives. The brand is in fact committed to improving the quality of lives on a level that is widely overlooked on a daily basis. From the ABS systems in your vehicle, to a simple product like wipers, the company is without a doubt the leader in engineering and electronics for various systems. Rest assured that the next time you enter and exit your vehicle, you'd probably have gone through over a dozen systems that Bosch has spent time in research and development for many years.
Check out all the highlights of The Malaysia Autoshow 2016 here!
Or read about the Five Tips When Buying Second Hand Cars here!