117 years share simple capri pants, benches and seats with 18 types of settings and massage function
Bernd, Werner, Oliver and Marius are enthusiastic about their task of repeatedly contacting the side bolsters of the seats underneath to simulate sitting and standing up, associated with constant friction in the leather upholstery. A task that requires special perseverance, relentless attitude and complete concentration on the job. Bernd, Werner, Oliver and Marius are robots from the testing department of the testing laboratory of the International Center for Technological Development ITDC. Opel (International Center for Technical Development) in Rüsselsheim. In particular, these are removable mechanical devices with panels covered with a layer of foam rubber and upholstered with a fabric resembling denim, the movement and friction of which imitate the contact of a person's buttocks and hips with a seat. “For us, they are more than robots - we see them as fully equal and qualified members of our team. They play an important role and therefore have their own names, ”said Andrew Leuchtmann, Senior Manager at GME Interiors.
A team of robots runs simulations of getting in and out of cars 50 times a week - equivalent to the lifespan of the car. Both the premium ergonomic seats and the brand's other products need certification from Aktion Gesunder Rücken eV (AGR), an independent German organization of medical experts in the field of back orthopedics. ... Of course, the standard integrated comfort seats are also tested. After testing, engineers can determine if the seats are capable of withstanding further stress by simply checking the fabric structure. “It is normal for the color to tarnish and scratch on the surface, but most importantly, the foam layer underneath is in good condition and the fabric structure is stable,” said seat expert Leuchtmann. If this is not the case, the luxurious and ergonomic seats that Opel offers for the driver and front passenger should be optimized - they should last a lifetime, regardless of whether they are installed in Mokka, Cascada, Meriva, Zafira. Tourer, Astra or Insignia.
“This is an area in which we are clearly reaping the benefits of our extensive experience,” said Leuchtmann. After all, the Rüsselsheim-based automaker boasts a 117-year tradition of seat design. The successful history of highly ergonomic seating began in 2003 with the first AGR approval for the Opel Signum and continued with Opel's flagship Insignia in 2008. Thus began a real campaign for the healthy accommodation of the driver and passengers in cars of the brand, offered at affordable prices. The impact of new seating systems on professional drivers and people who often travel long distances is particularly beneficial. Numerous and varied adjustment options allow the Insignia's AGR-certified premium ergonomic seats to adapt perfectly to each driver's body and requirements, so that everyone feels rested and symptom-free, even after long hours of work. Behind the wheel. Since 2003, the Opel brand has made the democratization of modern ergonomic seats one of its core missions and is today one of the leading mass car manufacturers in terms of the number of ergonomic seats offered with AGR approval.
The new lightness of the Astra Sports Tourer seats
The supporting structure is the most important component of the seat. It ensures the safety of passengers and keeps the body in the correct position in the event of an impact due to a traffic accident. That being said, this design usually loses a lot in weight, but not the new Astra Sports Tourer. The seat weight in the new model is reduced by 10 kilograms due to the use of high-strength steels. Thanks to precise computer simulations, engineers knew exactly how much weight they could save before starting work on the first prototype. Darker colors showed hazardous areas with high structural stress that could lead to breakage. “With the Astra Sports Tourer, we really went to the limit and experimented a lot,” says Leuchtmann. Among other things, it was necessary to carry out numerous tests of the welds. “You cannot weld if the material is too thin. Here I am moving along a very thin line, ”said the engineer.
With the first prototypes in place and the selection of leather and textile upholstery finished, Werner and his colleagues can get to work. But before that, a team of engineers calculates the level of load that the test robots must apply to the tested seats. In addition, a team of men and women of different weights and constitutions performed parallel tests while sitting on a layer of pressure-sensitive material to measure points and areas of maximum stress, for example, in areas that contact the bones of the body. pelvis. “We are testing prototype seats on real cars,” explains Leuchtmann. "The seats in the Meriva, for example, are taller and the seats are different from, for example, the new Astra Sports Tourer where the seats are lower." In addition, testers sit differently in the "ergonomic" premium seats. Thanks to the noticeably good lateral support from the body, the side supports are higher and therefore subject to greater stress during lifting and lowering. The data obtained is used to calculate the average load level, which, in turn, is used for adequate programming by Werner and his colleagues.
In parallel, nine specially trained testers are working at the Opel Center. Their tasks include, for example, driving the new Astra Sports Tourer for hours and endless kilometers. They test items such as an electro-pneumatic lumbar support with four settings, an adjustable thigh support or a massage function, and thoroughly examine the seats and give a subjective overall rating. Serial production can only begin after the complete elimination of even the slightest weakness.
The Opel Meriva is the first car to receive the AGR certification for its full ergonomics.
The development process for a new chair takes about five years. Two of them the investment team invests in the implementation of new concepts. This is the case with the versatility champion Opel Meriva. It is the first and so far the only vehicle to receive the AGR approval certificate for its complete ergonomic system. It includes ergonomic seats and 84-degree FlexDoors, a flexible FlexSpace rear seat movement concept and an optional FlexFix folding bike rack. The new Astra Sports Tourer is an example. A state-of-the-art development process, including customer feedback and feedback posted on forums and blogs, has resulted in the optional FlexFold 40:20:40 split rear seating system at the push of a button. In addition, external heating is available for the first time on request - an increased level of comfort ensures that your next trip with family and friends will be even more enjoyable.
In order for Opel to continue to lead the development of car seats, engineers are now working in complete secrecy to create a third generation of high-quality, premium ergonomic seats. “Maintaining the advantage of our know-how over competitors on the market and developing it consistently is critical,” emphasizes Leuchtmann. “This is the main reason why we strive to maintain as much development as possible within the company - some components are even manufactured in our plant in Kaiserslautern.” The supporting structure of the front seats is entirely manufactured in Kaiserslautern. The proximity of the plant to the headquarters in Rüsselsheim also has several logistical advantages. The goal is clearly defined - the car seats of the future will have even better ergonomic qualities, will be even lighter, have even more sophisticated style and greater safety. “We still have many new ideas on how to make the shape and contours of the seats even more effective in terms of individual adaptation to the body of different passengers,” explains the specialist. "And there's a lot more to come in the area of massage functions." There is no doubt that in the future we can expect many new Opel models with high-end ergonomic seats, as the democratization of comfort in this area is one of the company's main goals.
Historical overview of Opel seat development and design
1899 hour - capra. The entire Opel Lutzmann patented car system looks like a horse-drawn carriage and the seats are no exception. There are no opportunities to regulate them.
1929 hour - bottom position. 30 years later, the Opel 4/20, nicknamed the "Moonlight Roadster", still only offers a fixed padded bench. However, its position is now significantly lower, and passengers have the opportunity to stretch their legs.
1950 hour - more comfort. Opel Olympia seats are installed on a metal frame and are adjustable in the longitudinal direction. The front seat backs can be folded forward to make it easier for passengers in the second row to get in and out.
1956 hour - infinitely variable longitudinal adjustment. Another cornerstone is the conventional front seat with infinitely longitudinal adjustment and backrest tilt adjustment in the Opel Kapitän. The backrests are comfortably and naturally positioned in an optimal position by pulling out a special lever while applying pressure on the backrest.
1968 hour - sports seats. The legendary Opel GT received anatomically shaped sports seats with integrated headrests. Elongated glutes and improvements in the shoulder area show the direction of development.
1970-ies - headrests. Opel offers optional head restraints for some of its models such as the Monza, Kapitän / Admiral / Diplomat, and the Rekord C and D. The Opel Diplomat B is available with height-adjustable, comfortable head restraints that can even be used. change your forward tilt.
1978 hour - the first height-adjustable seat. Opel Monza drivers can easily adjust their seat height using the telescopic arm.
1994 hour - Security with a capital letter. The seats of the Opel Omega B are extremely comfortable and electrically adjustable. Reinforced rear seatbacks and side impact airbags make an important contribution to increased passive safety, and for the first time ever, crash tests are carried out with a load in the boot. All three seats in the second row of seats are equipped with three-point seat belts and head restraints.
2003 hour - the first AGR approval certificate. The independent German organization of medical experts in the field of orthopedics of the back Aktion Gesunder Rücken eV (Initiative for the Improvement of Back Health) is highlighting the multi-circuit driver's seat with 18 types of electrical settings in the Opel Vectra / Opel Signum models with its prestigious approval certificate. Opel is the first car manufacturer to offer health-friendly mid-range rear seats.
2008 hour - comfortable seats. The standard comfort seats in the Opel Insignia offer a variety of adjustment options - the height can be adjusted in a range of 65 millimeters (via an electric mechanism), and the longitudinal adjustments can be adjusted in the range of 270 millimeters. That's great performance, and the premium driver's seat has the AGR seal of approval.
2012 hour - general ergonomic concept. 84-degree FlexDoors, AGR-certified ergonomic seats and FlexFix folding bike rack are convincing benefits for AGR experts who have awarded Meriva with their approval certificate. It is the first, and so far the only production vehicle, to have received such an award for overall ergonomics.
2015 hour - Superior comfort in a compact class. For the first time, AGR-certified premium ergonomic seats in the new generation of Astra not only have 18 types of settings, including adjustable lateral support, but also have the added comfort benefits of a massage function for storage. various individual settings and for ventilation.