Feature: Gerotek for tailor-made vehicle testing facilities and driver courses


Gerotek has come a long way from its initial tasking of being a testing ground for military vehicles.

The Armscor-owned facility is sited on 550 hectares west of Pretoria and its most visible features are a high speed test track, a concrete obstacle track and other facilities associated with vehicle testing such as a skid pan and a number of off-road tracks.

Its original brief was to test defence related products and maintain key facilities, equipment, capabilities and technologies for this purpose.

Today the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is still a major customer but Gerotek has over the years evolved into a multi-disciplinary organisation. This sees it providing, in addition to military vehicle testing, accredited test and evaluation services, product promotion, corporate events, advanced driver training and driver development services.

As far as the military is concerned, Gerotek will be the obvious venue when production testing of the Army’s new Badger infantry fighting vehicle starts in a few years. While nothing has yet been made public about the vehicle it will probably also be tested at various other sites, including the Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape, to expose it to as wide a range of climatic and geographic conditions as possible. Prototype testing was done at Gerotek and other military training areas.

Gerotek’s vision is to be the foremost independent, accredited test and evaluation service in South Africa. Its driver training initiative, while aimed primarily at the security sector, is also available to other sectors as well as the international market.

The technologies, skills, expertise, facilities and equipment available at Gerotek put the organisation in a position to be able to support products through their entire life cycle to set standards and capabilities.

Gerotek Testing is an ISO17025 international accredited test facility providing repeatable, scientific vehicle and product testing services to industry.

Vehicle testing includes mobility, performance, endurance and homologation while product testing includes environmental, electromagnetic compatibility and antenna tests.

Testing support services are also offered to local and international test teams. These support services include assistance with test planning, import and export of test vehicles and equipment, test route planning and booking of facilities, providing workshops and offices at Gerotek where vehicles can be prepared and tested, accompanying test teams on test routes throughout South Africa as well as providing the necessary support services.

A wide range of test measurements including strain, temperature, vibration, pressure and displacement can be supported from instrumentation to data processing phase.

The Gerotek test team consists of motivated, well-qualified engineers and technicians with many years of testing experience and who are accredited signatories for the accredited tests.

Events-wise Gerotek, in addition to being easily accessible, has permanent conference and restaurant facilities that can accommodate up a 120 people. Its size means temporary facilities can be provided which, according to a spokesman, means “an almost unlimited number of people can be accommodated”.

Events that have been successfully hosted at Gerotek include team building, skidpan gymkhana, high speed trade drive and ride, long straight track, concrete ride and handling track, dynamic handling, dynamic circular and skidpan and off-road drives.

To elaborate on one, the concrete ride and handling, it is done on a track that includes a 4,2km low mobility section up to a 5,7km high mobility concreted track with steep inclines and down hills; sharp corners, both negatively banked and spiral. It has been designed to test vehicles handling characteristics to the nth degree and it well-suited for demonstrating trucks and buses, representing typical worst case scenario road conditions.

Gerotek has at least 10 different off-road facilities. They range from a concreted gradient one with gradients up to 45 degrees, a sand trough, a mud hole, a fully concreted one and several natural ones. They can be used either in sequence, driving a set 4X4 route, or separately. It is Gerotek’s proud boast that the best 4X4’s have gone the distance on its off-road facilities.

Courses offered at Gerotek cover the full spectrum of driver training and include high-jack prevention and one specially tailored for the drivers of minibus taxis. Other driving courses available are defensive (both on- and off-road), basic and advanced off-road vehicle advanced one.