“It needs to survive what customers throw at it, since we’re part of a tough, oftentimes grueling industry. We need to get at the durability of the thing,” said Eric Waters, Lead Test Engineer.
He’s describing FEA testing, a go-to tool used to develop new products, which is playing a key role in the continued development of Project Minotaur.
He continued: “We start out with an estimate of the load we think the machine can withstand, which is the static load. Then we want to look at how much stress does that generate and, you know, how much is something going to bend?”
“We want to understand cycle count and loading, so the static test turns into a dynamic one, from which we can estimate the durability of the machine under real world conditions,” added John Moffitt, Design Engineer.
FEA, which stands for Finite Element Analysis, is a proven methodology for studying the properties of machine components. The Minotaur team combines experts in product validation, product engineering, and design analysis to pull together tests that mirror real-life. The challenge is that Minotaur is the first of its kind.
“They’re complex models,” John continued, “modeled with the material and weld classifications defined, and we use a lot of actual field load data to look at not just one load case, but what’s happening in may-be a hundred different static loads in a series over time.”
“Really, what we’re talking about is virtual fatigue analysis,” Eric said.
The team is implementing cutting edge analysis tools for simulation to test a completely new machine, but it stays grounded in their deep expertise in building site-ready equipment. It’s an approach we call practical innovation.
“There are things customers do with our machines that we never could have imagined,” Eric added. “So while we may be surprised by the reality of what our machines are put through, we’re testing to account for the unexpected in our dynamic loading.”