Testing Equipment.

Vehicle Emission Testing

Gordon-Darby is the only Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) contractor that produces all of its own hardware and software systems. We combine a limited number of hardware components obtained from outside vendors with internally manufactured equipment to create our own systems. Except for some commercially available third-party applications (utility programs, word processing packages, etc.) that are integrated into our systems, all software code is custom designed by Gordon-Darby. Test equipment designed and manufactured by the company includes:

  • Decentralized Idle, OBD-only and OBD/Safety test systems and repair shop carts
  • Centralized Idle, loaded mode and OBD test systems
  • Vehicle chassis dynamometers
  • Vehicle and gas cap evaporative integrity test systems
  • Diesel vehicle snap idle test systems
  • Automated vehicle safety test systems
Inspection and Maintenance contractor

Gordon-Darby’s role as an equipment manufacturer provides the company with significant insight into the hardware and software development and checkout processes that are required whenever Inspection & Maintenance (I/M) program updates or other changes occur. This, in turn, significantly facilitates the development and acceptance testing effort that may be needed in updating electronic transmission systems and VIDs as part of new program implementations. We know which elements are important to check and what types of common problems (bugs) occur, leading to a much more efficient and therefore shortened acceptance testing process.
Because we manufacture equipment on an as-needed basis, substantial flexibility has been designed into our manufacturing process. By manufacturing and assembling our own equipment, we are not heavily reliant upon third-party vendors, or subject to implementation delays due to equipment non-delivery or other supply problems; therefore we are not subject to the scheduling constraints that our competitors face.

The fabrication and manufacturing of our own equipment also means that we have control over the quality and durability of the equipment. This allows us to choose what compromises to make between durability and cost, whereas our competitors are at the mercy of the choices made by their suppliers. Another advantage of manufacturing our own hardware and software systems is that we know exactly what is in the systems, down to the last dynamometer bolt and line of computer code. As a result, if something goes wrong with one of our systems or we decide an improvement is needed, we can easily make any necessary hardware or software modifications. Other contractors must rely on equipment suppliers to effect such changes. This makes them much less likely to unilaterally decide to improve their hardware or software; a decision that Gordon-Darby has made several times in its programs.

Additional benefits to manufacturing our own equipment is utilizing vehicle inspectors and equipment repair technicians from our existing programs. These technicians have the hands-on knowledge of using the equipment, and provide valuable feedback for the design and upgrade; ensuring the equipment is easy to use and maintain. If the technician knows how to build the equipment then they will have little problem maintaining it after installation.

The fabrication and manufacturing of our own equipment also means we have control over the quality and durability of the equipment. This allows us to choose what compromises to make between durability and cost, whereas our competitors are at the mercy of the choices made by their suppliers. As an example of the benefits provided by this approach, we involve both vehicle inspectors and equipment repair technicians from our existing programs in designing any new equipment, to ensure the equipment is easy to use and maintain. New equipment technicians are also brought in during the manufacturing phase to increase their familiarity with the equipment. If the technicians know how to build the equipment, they will have little problem maintaining it after installation.

Another advantage of manufacturing our own hardware and software systems is that we know exactly what is in the systems, down to the last dynamometer bolt and line of computer code. As a result, if something goes wrong with one of our systems or we decide an improvement is needed, we can easily make any necessary hardware or software modifications. Other contractors must rely on equipment suppliers to effect such changes. This makes them much less likely to unilaterally decide to improve their hardware or software (since they have to pay the supplier to do so), a decision that Gordon-Darby has made several times in its programs. In addition, the senior hardware and software designers who created our first program, and every program thereafter, are still with Gordon-Darby. They have been and continue to be involved with upgrades to the systems, thus maintaining a knowledge base that is unequalled in the industry.

Equipment problems may also result in finger-pointing between a contractor and its suppliers as time that should be used to resolve the problem is instead spent on figuring out whose responsibility it is to fix it. This situation can also be exacerbated by the use of so-called “smart systems” by some of the contractors. Software incorporated into these systems is designed to provide a data stream from the suppliers’ emissions analyzers that can be captured and used by a contractor’s operating system. However, the software that is incorporated into such a system creates a “black box” that is a complete unknown to the contractor’s programmers. If a problem is found in the results recorded / reported by the contractor, significant time and resources can be expended determining the source of the error. Conversely, if we encounter a problem in our system, we are able to fix it immediately.

Gordon-Darby’s role as an equipment manufacturer also provides the company with significant insight into the hardware and software development and checkout processes that are required whenever I/M program updates or other changes occur. This in turn significantly facilitates the development and acceptance testing effort that may be needed in updating electronic transmission systems and VIDs as part of new program implementations. We know which elements are important to check and what types of common problems (bugs) occur, leading to a much more efficient and therefore shortened acceptance testing process.
Specific features of Gordon-Darby-built equipment is described below.

  • OBDII Equipment
      Gordon-Darby has built a fully automated link to the vehicle On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system that allows our computer systems to interrogate the OBD system. The OBD link is fully compliant with US EPA requirements (contained in 40 CFR 85.2207-85.2231) and applicable SAE Recommended Practices.
  • Chassis Dynamometer
      Through extensive development work we have developed a flexible dynamometer design, involving interchangeable components that can be used for all types of loaded mode testing. This same design is being used in our existing programs in support of both IM240 and simple loaded mode (non-ASM) emissions testing, and was also used for ASM pilot lanes we installed in Florida and New Jersey. The flexible design reduces manufacturing and maintenance costs by minimizing the number of different components (e.g., the same frames and roller sets are used for all dynamometer setups). It also makes upgrading from one type of testing to another (e.g., from ASM to IM240) relatively easy and much less costly. Such a field upgrade can be done without any additional pit work.
  • Constant Volume Sampling (CVS) System
      Following EPA development of IM240 test requirements, Gordon-Darby conducted extensive testing to develop a CVS system that met our quality and durability standards within the available cost constraints. This effort allowed us to develop a real-world, high-throughput IM240 application and paved the way for successful implementation of the Phoenix, Arizona IM240 and subsequent IM147 production systems.
  • Gas Analyzers
      A variety of gas analysis benches have been built. This includes both flame ionization detection (FID) and nondispersive infrared (NDIR) hydrocarbon (HC) analyzers, NDIR carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) analyzers, and chemiluminescent and electrochemical cell analyzers for detection of oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Integrated analysis systems for each of Gordon-Darby’s program designs (BAR90 through IM240) were also built.
  • Evaporative Test Equipment
      This includes automated centralized inspection systems for testing the integrity of the vehicle evaporative control system and gas cap as well as evaporative purge test equipment (the latter was used for a short time in the Arizona program).
  • Safety Test Equipment
      Gordon-Darby-built vehicle safety test equipment includes automated headlight, side-slip, front-end play and brake testers.