The European vehicle industry is facing many challenges during the next few decades. Today one of the most pressing demands is to satisfy future environmental requirements by reducing greenhouse gases from air, road and ship traffic. Also, rail transport must become more successful in competing with road traffic as regards efficiency, availability and comfort. However, it is well known that rail and road traffic are dominant sources of noise in most European cities.
An increased awareness of the climate change, its causes and consequences, has led to a strong public opinion toward saving the environment. This public opinion has forced governments and industries to adopt new strategies. The industry can no longer continue to produce heavier and more fuel consuming vehicles. This trend must be called to a halt.
Cars, trucks, buses, trains and ships are certainly much less noisy today than twenty years ago. However the increased number of vehicles has also drastically increased the pollution from traffic. The production of greenhouse gases threatens our very existence, and it could be argued that noise pollution affects our sanity. Still, noise pollution is a major environmental problem in every European city.
The purpose of CANTOR was to manage cooperation between European industries to support competitiveness in the production of transport vehicles with low noise emission and a comfortable ride experience. The means were the accumulation and transfer of existing knowledge and information on vehicle acoustics between industry, governmental and university groups. The programme aimed at formulating joint research programmes, joint prediction tools and measurement techniques as well as new joint educational programmes.
The programme also aimed at providing an instrument to facilitate cooperation between various research groups at universities, institutes and industries by offering information about research priorities and future challenges. This cooperation could help in achieving important end results faster, at a reduced cost and to prevent duplication of research work and limit fragmentation of European research in the field of transportation noise.
The aims and needs of the industry within the transportation sector are not always fully understood by universities. As experienced by the industrial sector this results in unfocused research activities at university level. Industry is seldom or never informed about ongoing research activities and the possible outcome of this work by the universities. Furthermore, there is no real effort in coordinating various national research activities.
The project reached its objectives through delivery of studies on the nine principle areas of work in the project:
- Coordination of industrial and SME partners.
- A catalogue of industrial and societal requirements.
- Information of ongoing research activities.
- Formulation and dissemination of a research strategy agreement.
- Short-term exchange of personnel.
- Marketing and coordination of educational programmes.
- Coordination of advanced short courses.
- Publication of prediction models, measurement techniques and a database of new materials.
- A catalogue of research laboratory facilities.
Furthermore, the consortium participants used the newly developed knowledge for high-level teaching to their students and in running short courses aimed at broader academic and industrial audiences. They also expected to benefit in terms of possible participation in other transportation industrial research projects.
The members of the Advisory Board identified the main problem areas or bottlenecks facing the industry whilst pursuing the goals that were set with respect to the reduction of noise pollution. Within each CANTOR work package, reports were completed on existing and possible future methods for solving problems identified by the industry. Limitations, as well as ongoing modifications and improvements were summarised, together with proven and possible future applications. Ongoing and if possible planned research activities within each field were also listed.
The result of the work has been reported in 18 deliverables. The main conclusions of the work done are as follows:
- The survey of research needs has indicated that the whole of research activities covered by CANTOR partners are not of the same importance to the stakeholders. A few research areas should be given higher short-term priority. These areas are: wheel-rail interaction, tyre-road noise, passive noise control and advanced lightweight structural design. The short-term priority areas should be accompanied by long-term priority ones: new passive material technologies, new active and multifunctional solutions, globally optimised mechanical design by advanced computation and subjective noise perception criteria.
- The survey has also shown that large industries and operators working in transport rely on university research. However, the constraints on both sides make the quality and extent of collaboration lower than desired.
During the project, the CANTOR homepage was maintained and continuously up-dated with information on prediction models, measurement techniques, databases and courses. Advanced courses on sound and vibration have been organised regularly by industry and universities.
The proposed strategy for EU research on transport noise is divided into four components:
- Short term strategy: concentrate research activities and focus on a few areas which were identified to be a key priority: wheel-rail interaction including friction-induced noise, tyre-road noise, novel efficient passive solutions and optimised lightweight structural design. Make full use of Expert Groups for implementing the coordination of these research areas.
- Long-term base strategy: getting gradually involved into a multidisciplinary character of future long-term research and into problem-oriented areas: next-generation vibroacoustic CAE tools, novel passive material technologies and adapted active solutions integrated into multifunctional or hybrid designs. The links with research in adjacent technical areas shouldalready be initiated during the project lifetime.
- Long-term strategy of information exchange: communication with stakeholders should be brought to an efficient level and maintained on a regular basis. Closer links and regular communications with EU Technology platforms should be established.
- Strategy of research implementation: future collective research work programmes should be defined with the stakeholders including the mechanisms of supporting these programmes.