Winter test partnership

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Italian tire giant Pirelli has chosen Arctic Falls as the location for its newest test base. Pirelli’s new testing facility is expected to be operational in November 2017 with construction work at Arctic Falls now well underway.

“With our long history and experience of collaborating with Arctic Falls, we know we will have a state-of-the-art facility,” says Pirelli’s testing manager for Germany, Andrea Arcari.

Arctic Falls has more than 30 years’ experience of tire testing at its facilities near the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. For more than two decades, renowned tire company Pirelli has been performing winter testing of tires there. Now, Arctic Falls and Pirelli are taking this collaboration to the next level by building an all-new, land-based testing facility.

“A land-based facility will provide more stable conditions and a longer time window for testing, from three months up to five. An extended season will mean that we can, for instance, do all of our winter testing at Arctic Falls. This gives us greater accessibility and it is greatly beneficial from a costs and logistics perspective. Additionally, by being able to build the proving ground according to our client’s feedback and specifications, we become more attractive and are able to provide an even better service,” comments Arcari.

The new facility, which covers approximately 1km² (0.4 square miles), will house several snow and ice tracks, such as a straight track, a sloped track and a handling track. The total surface area will be approximately 200,000m² (2,152,780ft²). Alongside the facility, buildings covering around 1,000m² (10,760ft²) will be constructed, containing cold storage, garages, workshops and offices.

“The facility is being built according to our specifications down to the smallest details. It will play a crucial role in improving work procedures and making our operations more efficient. It will also improve the quality of test results,” explains Arcari.

As an example, some of the test tracks constructed will be asphalt-covered, enabling tire testing on wet and dry surfaces in cool summer climates. A sprinkler system will be installed to regulate the wetness of the tracks and make testing more efficient. A system for creating highly realistic repeatable artificial snow surfaces is also being constructed, including other sought-after functionality, that makes it possible to begin the season earlier, extend it, and make testing operations less weather dependent.

“We have focused heavily on making sure it is a top-class facility, from the small technical details – such as installation of high-speed fiber-optic internet connection and our advanced weather station – to the design and functionality of the tracks,” explains Arctic Falls CEO Jonas Jalar.

According to Jalar, the Arctic Falls facility offers numerous natural advantages, including the geographically beneficial location, which provides the ideal climate.

“Land-based tracks offer major advantages as on the lake, the weather variations, with for example warm weather, makes it difficult to test. Also on lake-based tracks you can’t start as early in the season. Previously testing began in January, now we plan to be able to start late November or early December. We can also fence in land-based tracks for safety and for secrecy.”

Being able to use Arctic Falls’ 400m (1,300ft) indoor hall has also played an important part in Pirelli’s choice of where to locate the testing facility. The opportunity for year-round testing in a controlled environment, on painstakingly prepared and repeatable ice and snow surfaces is highly sought after.

“Using the indoor hall, we can offer a dynamic, tailored, year-round platform for tire testing. This is an important factor in our relationship with Pirelli. Our goal as a company is and has always been to provide total solutions, tailored products and services. We have a good, long-standing relationship with Pirelli and we are both proud and happy that we have been trusted to provide a total solution in line with their high demands and requirements,” says Jalar.

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the ground-breaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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