Math to road cycle is similar yet diverse for trains, trucks, and tractors

  • 29-Aug-2014 10:24 EDT
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Before GE Transportation locomotives get to customers, issues spotted during simulations and component testing have been resolved.


Product engineering projects are always circular. As new versions evolve, data that comes back to design teams is incorporated into the next iteration. Panelists at the upcoming Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress will explore this cycle in a panel entitled “Math to Lab to Road.”

Those who helped set up the executive panel for the Oct. 9 presentation in Rosemont, IL, note that the concepts are used in various ways in industries as diverse as agriculture, passenger cars, and locomotives. They note that the order of the process sequences can be reversed as road tests provide developers with feedback.

“You can use the concept both ways,” said Michael Doseck, of the daVinci Technology Group. “You can do the math, go to the lab and then test the vehicle on the road. If you catch issues in the field, you want to bring them back, so you go the other way, from road to lab to math.”

The panel includes speakers from MAN Truck & Bus, John Deere Product Engineering Center, and Daimler Trucks. General Motors will augment these discussions with observations from its high volume perspective. This diversity will give attendees a broad perspective on different strategies.

“Deere uses simulations to predict the performance of a number of variants, they do far more variations than any automaker,” said Wensi Jin, Automotive Industry Manager at MathWorks. “Daimler uses simulations to describe different environments so they can provide special features for customers.”

GE Transportation will also add locomotives to this diverse discussion. In addition to their huge size, these engines see unusual operating conditions.

“Locomotives have some unique applications, they go through long tunnels and encounter different environmental conditions,” said Edward Hall, Senior General Manager for Engine Technologies at GE. “But they also have similar requirements, like improving emissions and fuel economy.”

GE is expanding its use of modeling and simulations. The company is also increasing the physical tests used for engine components, checking more parts before complete engines are built.

“We’ll put a part like a cylinder head on a rig and pulse it to simulate operating pressures to see how high the pressure gets before it breaks,” Hall said. “We used to do this for about 25% of the parts on the engine, the most critical parts. Now we’re at 50% and we want to do more.”

Those tests are also becoming more severe. Test platforms are being combined so the device under test is stressed in multiple ways at once.

“We’re doing a full-scale fuel system that’s pushed through conditions we couldn’t have tested before,” Hall said. “We’ve got a shaker table inside an oven so we can couple high-temperature thermal tests and mechanical tests.”

With models and physical testing, GE is focused on spotting problems earlier in the development cycle.

“We’re able to make changes that in the past were made at customer sites,” Hall said. “That’s much better for us.”

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