Our friends at IND Distribution sent me a fascinating story based on their recent trip to Germany. It’s a bit long but it has a lot of photos and it’s a great read.
Last week, IND Distribution- the North American distributor for Eisenmann exhausts- visited Eisenmann GmbH’s amazing manufacturing facilities in Hemmingen, Germany for an exclusive view of their old world manufacturing techniques, the privilege to meet their skilled fabricators, and a preview of their upcoming projects for 2009 as Germany’s leading OEM and Aftermarket exhaust system manufacturer.
Eisenmann is located in the suburb of Hemmingen, a small German town just a half hour’s drive from the major manufacturing center of Stuttgart that houses the industry giant Porsche GmbH. Porsche’s many manufacturing and testing centers are scattered around Stuttgart, with their closest facility literally just down the block from Eisenmann’s own manufacturing complex!
Driving through the beautiful countryside, one would never expect to find a factory responsible for exhaust systems featured on the Mercedes McLaren SLR, AMG and Porsche cars, and the cars of thousands of enthusiasts worldwide.
I’ll include a photo tour of Eisenmann’s facility, to show our readers exactly what Eisenmann is about-
The first thing you notice when entering Eisenmann’s facility is Eisenmann’s true love for metalwork. Even their sign is worked from stamped sheetmetal and bent tubing! You can see just how long Eisenmann has been around, simply by looking at how distressed and worn this sign is. It’s probably been standing since the Eisenmann factory’s opening in 1988!
Another metal sculpture, made by Eisenmann’s experienced fabricators.
As soon as you walk into Eisenmann’s lobby in their main building, a few things become obvious- the company’s love for all modes of transportation, and their passion for clean and thorough work. This place was spotless!
My tour guide there was Sven Johann, Sales Director with nearly a decade of experience working at Eisenmann GmbH. After enthusiastic hellos (we’d just seen each other a month before at SEMA), Sven showed me around the office a bit, then took me to see the main attraction- Eisenmann’s shop floor.
Going from the clean, pristine offices of Sven and his co-workers to the bustling shop space is like getting cold water splashed in your face. We were sitting in Sven’s comfortable, quiet office when he suggested taking a look at their primary shop space. We walked through a small door in the back of the offices, and were instantly hit with the hustle and rush of Eisenmann’s shop environment. In this photo, you can see some of Eisenmann’s employees working on things like the Eisenmann headers in the center of the photo.
Although Eisenmann uses mass production techniques like machine welding and fabrication for their OEM exhaust systems, Mr Eisenmann chooses to make his aftermarket exhaust systems with old-world German hand labor. Here you can see one of Eisenmann’s technicians welding an E90 330i exhaust canister by hand. Later, when the exhaust is nearly completed, the Eisenmann logo will get hand stamped onto the tips, and the exhaust’s serial number plaque welded to the canister to ensure it’s identity as an Eisenmann product.
Next, Sven took me to take a look at some of the testing and R&D procedures Eisenmann uses to design their exhaust systems. In this photo you can see their backpressure probing system. It’s a simple, but effective way of testing exhaust system performance by seeing just how effective one exhaust system is at evacuating exhaust gasses compared to another. By using pressure tubes mounted to various parts of the OEM exhaust system, Eisenmann can compare the OEM rear mufflers to many variations of proposed muffler designs, and arrive at the most ideal possible internal canister design, to ensure maximum flow.
Possibly the most shocking portion of the tour was Eisenmann’s dynamic flow testing rig. I wish I could tell you readers that I’d seen hundreds of these before, but when Sven led me to a small room filled with sound matting, and this strange looking device within, and 6 identical looking E36 exhaust canisters, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Eisenmann hit a serious bottleneck in their constant search for improvement in exhaust system design- they couldn’t simulate actual engine dynamics through their muffler variations without actually bolting the muffler to the test car.
To solve this problem, Eisenmann designed this one-off muffler testing machine. The machine accurately simulates exhaust pulses through the muffler to test flow efficiency through each muffler design based on the set ambient temperature, pressure, and other parameters.
By using this machine, Eisenmann can ensure the best possible results from all of their exhaust systems.
This photo shows how truly MASSIVE this machine is! The entire setup is longer than a car, so it makes for a really imposing device.
When I saw 6 E36 M3 mufflers sitting in the testing room, I was a bit confused. I learned that Eisenmann is re-testing all of their old systems, in order to perfect each muffler design. Although the mufflers look the same externally, the internals of each are quite different, and serve to provide a real life test to each of the CFD analases Eisenmann has completed on the muffler design in question.
The second testing procedure I was really intrigued by was the “microphone test”. Eisenmann’s engineers use a custom made microphone rig to record each possible variation of muffler on each car they design. Initial testing starts with the OEM system, then with the same car with no exhaust on it at all. At that point, the engineers will apply many variations of test muffler, including pre-production sport and race systems, as well as mufflers specifically intended to test certain frequencies, and record each sound.
Eisenmann’s software allows for analasys of each frequency outputted by the engine with each combination of muffler. By searching for unwanted frequencies in this analasys, Eisenmann is able to isolate and eliminate the bassy low rpm “drone” that has come to be associated with lower quality exhaust products.
We happened to be in the testing bay during testing of the new 335d exhaust system. This is really exciting, as this car isn’t even released in the US market! The Sport and Race systems are already in development, to hurry both systems for US release.
Eisenmann’s engineers weren’t completely happy with the sound output of these first 335d test units. When this happens during testing, the engineers will isolate the specific unwanted frequency, then quickly make a set of test mufflers to fix the problem. In this photo, you can see these test mufflers installed on the car, to ensure that a specific muffler design will eliminate the unwanted frequency.
After all this testing was complete, I thought I needed some eye candy to let my brain relax, so Sven took me to see “LeMans heaven”! Just look at all those gorgeous tips, ready to be made into Eisenmann exhausts.
“Let’s walk over to the other building.” is all Sven would said in a sly voice as we left Eisenmann’s main, open to the public, building. We had to walk quite a long way down the street, so I was starting to think this building would be just a boring warehouse. As soon as I saw the huge new three story building, complete with frosted glass windows throughout and a buzzer just to get in, I knew I was in for something special. Sven’s assistant hit the buzzer, told the security guard inside we were with Eisenmann, and we were in.
The Porsche Cheyenne photo on the wall explained everything to me. We were inside Eisenmann’s OEM manufacturing operation- something that until today has been closed to the public!
The first thing that really jumped out at me when I started walking around the building were these SLR tips. I hardly knew this many SLR McLarens existed, and to see this many tips in production and ready to go along with Eisenmann’s OEM SLR exhaust really blew me away!
Along with the McLaren SLR exhaust system, I saw some of the master fabricators working on the new Mercedes AMG systems. It’s amazing to see that each Mercedes AMG system is still made by hand at Eisenmann’s factory. Seeing Eisenmann’s fabricators carefully manufacturing exhausts entirely by hand, when they’re going on a car that is completely mass produced (with the exception of the engine) is just incredible to me.
Here’s a shot I snapped of an OEM Porsche roll cage- something you can find at your local Porsche dealership! Eisenmann manufactures these cages for Porsche, along with Porsche’s exhaust systems.
As we were leaving the warehouse and fabrication area of Eisenmann’s OEM building, we made a stop to the third floor. This whole floor is nothing but OEM tips! The entire third floor of this building is dedicated to manufacturing and storing OEM Porsche and AMG tips, to go on their exhausts in the future.
On our way out of the building, we stopped to meet some of Eisenmann’s engineers. We called this the “million dollar room”. The salary of these engineers is pretty steep, but they have to be quite good at what they do!