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 Hybrid mechanical testing takes its heritage from the railway industry

Fromrail to road F

ormed out of the ashes of British Railways Engineering in the heartland ofUK locomotive building inDerby,Data Acquisition and Testing Services

Ltd (DATS) applied the knowledge of its staff inmechanical testing to provide advice and guidance to local industry on the placement of sensors for obtaining meaningfulmeasurements of strain in mechanical structures. DATS founder and a former colleague –

who set up ABMech, a similar company offering finite element analysis services – remained in close contact and developed their businesses as a symbiotic pairing to provide the whole spectrumofmechanical analysis and testing services. Although the two companies are separate entities, there are a lot of areas of cross-over and they cooperate onmany projects, particularly where a customer wants strain to be measured in a structure but doesn’t know where to place the strain gauges, for example. In this case, ABMech becomes involved, performs the FEA andmakes recommendations for the testing regime. Since those early days,DATS has grown

beyond its initial local reach and has gained a reputation in other areas of the country as well as in other businesses outside the rail industry.

WIDE EQUIPMENT RANGE DATS has a large set of equipment, which has been built up over the years and includes items which have a very narrow

34 /// Environmental Engineering /// December 2016

Jonathan Newell talks to Data Aquisition and Testing Services about applying historic railway technology to the modern age

scope of use, but which enable the company to offer a very wide range of services, including experimental work, research and the setting up of specific test regimes. In addition, the company recently added

two vibration test systems which formpart of a wider component testing capability, including three load frames capable of handling between 10kNand 200kN, a 200Nmand 4kNmtorque calibration rig, a 10kNZwickmaterial testingmachine and a T-slot tablemeasuring 3mx 2.5mfor component testing. Themain thrust of the company’s work is

still the railway industry, with other customers being in themilitary/air structures area, as well as automotive, agriculture and other industries where the measurement and analysis ofmechanical structures is required.Despite the aerospace industry having a lot of in-house capabilities, it often has to fall back on accredited subcontractors.

HYBRID HERITAGE The current focus on hybrid power train engineering for the automotive and road transport technology industrymay seem

new tomany consumers, but is part of the heritage ofDATS fromthe last 40-50 years of diesel-electric locomotive production. These are all examples of hybrid power and the industry is very familiar with the concepts.With the company’s knowledge of mechanical structures and hybrid power technology in the railway industry, there is much that they are currently doing for the automotive industry. I asked Jon Green ofDATS where the

crossover lies between hybrid power and mechanical testing.He explained that hybrid power isn’t just about electricity generation as there aremultiplemechanical considerations to be taken into account and went on to illustrate this usingmotor placement as an example. “Placing amotor on each wheel increases

the unsprung weight and unravels all of the vehicle handling performance improvements that have beenmade by reducing unsprung weight over the years. The answer is therefore to place each wheel’s electricmotor inboard within the vehicle body and using transmission components to transfer energy to the wheel. This introduces newmechanical dynamics, potential resonances and the requirement formore structural analysis of drivetrain assemblies,” he explains. With automotive technology beating a

strong path towards electrification, autonomy and improved safety, such mechanical considerations are going to play an increasingly important role for manufacturers. EE

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