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AAAE: Ryco filters world class test lab

Unique conditions spark a bespoke testing lab, in-cab smoke filters as Ryco boosts R&D

12 Apr 2022

AUSTRALIA has one of the harshest environments for automobiles in the world and home-grown filtration specialist Ryco believes its technology is the cutting-edge solution to protecting a vehicle to ensure reliability and efficiency.


At the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association’s Expo, Ryco Australia general manager of engineering and innovation, Alastair Hampton, to GoAutoNews that one of the big benefits with his company is that it is more than 80 years old and “we understand the Australian and New Zealand market quite intimately.”


“Australia is a unique market with unique geology and climate,” he said.


“We have all the learnings about Australia and in our position in the filtration business, we’re aware of the uniqueness of our dust and dirt and things that can damage a vehicle.”


He said Australian dust, for example, was very fine – more than many other markets.


“Australia now imports all our vehicles. So almost all the vehicles that are on sale right now have been developed in other countries,” Mr Hampton said.


“Having a vehicle engineered in Germany or Japan or somewhere else may mean it may not have been engineered to survive and thrive reliably in the long term in our environment.


“Other markets don't have our climate or geology. That’s the benefit an Australian company has and the benefit we can bring to the vehicle owner.”


He said Ryco offers the best possible filtration technologies and improves all its filters regularly – even ones designed for vehicles 20 to 30 years ago.


“So, when an original equipment manufacturer develops a vehicle, the level of filtration technology that it gets is whatever is available,” he said.


“They usually don't go back and continually improve.


“I think that’s important for motorists. Perhaps the average mum and dad customer doesn’t understand it but increasingly, these are the people buying recreational vehicles and caravans and heading out into the exact environment that we designed our filtration systems.


“It should be important for them to have access to the best technologies available to ensure reliability and fuel efficiency while they’re travelling.”


Mr Hampton said Ryco’s business was in the aftermarket sector which meant its products were being sold to consumers that generally use independent workshops or are doing their own servicing.


To attract that side of the servicing market, he said Ryco products have to be better than the others.


“Ensuring our product is better starts with us having high quality information,” he said.


“We have to have the best R&D, have a full range of vehicles for testing and then engineer products to suit.


“To do that, we had to create one of the world's best automotive filtration bases so that we can match an OEM’s level of R&D. In fact, we have exceeded it because we are making products for the unique Australian environment.


“We probably experience harsher conditions in Australia than the home countries of the OEM and which is likely to be used as a base for engineering their vehicles.


“At Ryco, we know vehicles used in Australia need more protection. The dirtier the conditions that an engine must operate in, the greater the engine wear.


“So, if we can keep an engine really clean – from when the air comes into the engine or where the fuel comes from the fuel tank – then we're going to extend that engine life significantly and, in addition, make sure it is going to perform better throughout its life.


“That means it's not going to lose power, it's going to keep its efficiency, stay fuel efficient, and run smoothly and not be more polluting.”


“With our laboratory testing, we use international test standards and in oil and fuel filtration, there’s very good tests that give a higher degree of accuracy for performance.


“It’s different with air filters because there’s more difficulty in the test. Generally, you apply a contaminant to a filter and you figure out how efficient the filter is by how much contaminant is removed, how air flow is restricted, how long it takes to block the filter and so on.


“When we applied the international testing to the air filters, it wasn’t giving satisfactory results. So, we developed our own testing and went to a very good company in Germany that makes cutting-edge test rigs.


“The result is a test rig that can measure particle size and fractional efficiency on air filters with particle counters that can take samples and measure the number and size of particles that are coming through the filter.


“And it’s not just the filter because there is often stuff getting around some filter frames which must be stopped, particularly as a vehicle gets older and things like spring clips start to weaken and materials start to warp.


“Because that's what my customers care about. They're less interested in what the filter catches, they're more interested in what it's letting through.


“We have been able to create performance standards, whereas previously we would have benchmarked against other filters.


“It's about having that local intimacy. That is what drives us, and it means that we're now developing products that are beyond what they always have.


“What that meant though, was the lab result where you tested in a lab and the filters sealed in a housing and it's all clamped together and you're measuring differential pressure was no longer accurate because the OEM systems were almost designed to assume bypass.


“So, what we had to do was get a lot of vehicles into our workshop and set up airflow measuring devices on the vents and benchmark our filter against the OEM filters but we had to use the entire vehicle because that was the only way to do it accurately.


“We had to consider factors such as what the filter can do to the cabin ventilation of the vehicle. If the airflow in and out of the car is blocked, the windows will fog up.


“So, we had to get heaps of vehicles into our workshop. We had to go into the car park and ask owners ‘Hey, can I borrow your Honda? Can I borrow your Toyota?’


“And we actually did that airflow testing to tune the filters knowing that we're now we now have data on the whole HVAC system.


Ryco is also active in cabin filtration systems because of increasing pollution concerns in road corridors.


“Busy road sections tend to become pollution corridors and unless you have an efficient HVAC system, the level of pollution in your car can be eight to 10 times higher than other places,” he said.


“A lot of people don't realise just how bad it is, especially if you're a heavy road user. We're always shocked to see that professional drivers – trucks, taxis, delivery vehicles and other fleets and so on – get so little in the way of protection and these are people that live on the road for 10 to 12 hours a day.


“So, we started developing filters for people most at risk from a wellness and OHS perspective.


“We’ve even created a cabinet for Isuzu N and F Series trucks because they have zero filters. So, we airflow tested and created a filter from scratch that was easy to fit to those trucks.”


Mr Hampton said Ryco has also developed the filter for smoky conditions, ideal for the CFA and others working in hazardous conditions. The filter is also flame retardant.


“I think it would be quite beneficial for those guys in heavy smoke conditions because at least their cabin will be free of smoke.”


Ryco is also improving the recyclability of things like packaging, and in the construction of the filters by using recycled plastics.


“That’s something we're actively investigating,” Mr Hampton said.


“I think that there's still very much room for synthetic filters. Again, just because of that longevity and making sure that we're not we're not prematurely wearing vehicles out.

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