NATC is at the forefront off-highway vehicle development and testing. Incorporating innovative engineering with proven vehicle fundamentals is the key component to a successful program no matter the task. We offer the operational environment, facilities, and terrain to operate and evaluate each vehicle to understand its capabilities and limitations. Our engineers understand vehicle operations and duty cycles, which enables them to tailor program events and develop solutions based on the end user’s goals. We also know that the off-highway environment poses multiple challenges such as high-level terrain roughness, soft soil, resonance vibrations, powertrain loading, payload limits and security, and corrosive and abrasive materials transportation. Therefore, we focus our testing, development, and training to give an extra perspective on the progressive market while meeting our customers’ objectives.
NATC has the advantage of a vast test facility with access to over 6,200 acres of proving grounds, 735 acres of snow and ice covered terrain in West Yellowstone, MT, and local access to natural sand dunes at Sand Mountain Recreational Area, NV. With these facilities, we have the ability to replicate most any terrain traversed in the off-road market. Both large material moving equipment and high-performance vehicles can be operated over this terrain with the added benefit of adverse climates presenting conditions such as deep snow, ice, and mud. These climates offer an increased perspective of the operational environment as a vehicle system is exposed to more challenges than just terrain. We also have the flexibility and experience to design special tests to meet a program’s objective.
The following are some of the testing services offered to meet the evolving needs of the off-highway market sectors.
Durability/Reliability Testing – We develop durability testing for all platforms and duty cycles. We use our geographic diversity and custom-designed test courses to develop profiles of terrain, operating time, and vocational use to examine the response of the vehicle to a wide variety of conditions in the field. Additionally, our equipment /vehicle operators exercise all types of special-purpose equipment in the relevant operational environments.
Vehicle-Trail Rating Classification System (V-TRCS™) – NATC has developed a quantifiable methodology to define the severity and conditions of the terrain that demand greater capability for vehicles. V-TRCS™ is a 1–10 rating system that quantifies the terrain severity and the associated vehicle capability for the use of benchmarking and comparing vehicle platforms for marketing and engineering purposes. The V-TRCS™ rating scale can be tailored to suit the requirements of various types of vehicles and the terrain on which the applicable users operate.
Performance Testing – We have the on-site capability to evaluate all aspects of ground vehicle operations from vehicle dynamics to traction and ride quality with the overall goal of increasing speed over terrain no matter the roughness. This holds true for all off-road applications whether loading 30 trucks of material in a shift or making it to a destination when life depends on it. Off-highway performance testing is considered our specialty given the extensive engineering experience we offer our customers.
Component Level Testing – We use high-resolution instrumentation to design tests that support developmental target areas of improvement such as fuel consumption, cooling system capability, suspension ride quality, and frame/structural stress, to improve life cycle costs and efficiency.