Re­sults from Army, univer­sity tests could im­prove vi­bra­tion test­ing for auto, avi­a­tion in­dus­tries


Re­sults from a re­cent study that looked at how bat­tle­field-born vi­bra­tions, like those from blasts and heavy ar­moured ve­hi­cles, for ex­am­ple, are lead­ing re­search sci­en­tists to re­think mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle test­ing and eval­u­a­tion meth­ods that could also, even­tu­ally, im­prove au­to­mo­tive and avi­a­tion in­dus­try stan­dards.

A group of Army and Univer­sity of Mary­land re­searchers and engi­neers have de­vel­oped re­li­a­bil­ity tests to bet­ter cap­ture un­fore­seen fail­ures in ground and air ve­hi­cle de­signs be­fore the mil­i­tary adopts sys­tems and com­po­nents.

Ed Habtour, prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor on the project at the US Army Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory (ARL), said the physics of fail­ure (PoF) based re­li­a­bil­ity mod­els and test meth­ods de­vel­oped by ARL, US Army Ma­teriel Sys­tems Ac­tiv­ity Anal­y­sis, Aberdeen Test Center, the Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Center for Ad­vanced Life Cy­cle Engineering (CALCE), Team Cor­po­ra­tion and Data Physics Cor­po­ra­tion were run on the Team Ten­sor 900 six de­grees of free­dom (6-DoF) shaker, one of only two of its kind in the world.

The project re­ceives sup­port from the in­dus­try-gov­ern­ment con­sor­tium which spon­sors this re­search at CALCE. The con­sor­tium con­sists of lead­ing elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers and users from both mil­i­tary and com­mer­cial are­nas, said Dr Abhijit Das­gupta, pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Mary­land’s CALCE.

In­stead of the cur­rent prac­tice of vi­brat­ing a prod­uct se­quen­tially for ev­ery axis, the Ten­sor 900 is ca­pa­ble of vi­brat­ing a prod­uct in three trans­la­tional and three ro­ta­tional mo­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Re­sults pro­vide a way for re­searchers to bet­ter un­der­stand how com­po­nents fail un­der the mil­i­tary’s – and in­dus­try’s – most rig­or­ous con­di­tions where vi­bra­tion is ex­treme, and with this in­for­ma­tion, ground and air ve­hi­cles can be built bet­ter to guard against known vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

The se­quen­tial and si­mul­ta­ne­ous vi­bra­tion com­par­i­son stud­ies have shown that the tra­di­tional se­quen­tial ax­ial test­ing is in­ad­e­quate, ex­pen­sive, time con­sum­ing and pro­vides mis­lead­ing non-con­ser­va­tive re­li­a­bil­ity pre­dic­tions. “When we saw the re­sults, it was so sur­pris­ing to us that we wanted to make sure we could re­peat them,” said Habtour. He said the tests re­sults could “re­ally change the way in­dus­try con­ducts vi­bra­tion test­ing” for cars, trucks and air­craft.

The cur­rent mil­i­tary stan­dard calls for sys­tems, equip­ment, other ma­chin­ery and de­vices to with­stand tough cli­mate condi- tions. Mil­i­tary Stan­dard 810G is the cur­rent spec­i­fi­ca­tion that the Depart­ment of De­fense (DoD) has in place for equip­ment to sur­vive and thrive, and this same stan­dard has been adopted by the au­to­mo­tive, aero­space and elec­tron­ics in­dus­try.

Changes to the mil­i­tary stan­dard are go­ing to im­pact th­ese in­dus­tries pos­i­tively by truly im­prov­ing re­li­a­bil­ity while re­duc­ing test­ing time and cost, Habtour said.

ARL is work­ing closely with the US Army Test and Eval­u­a­tion Com­mand, Aberdeen Test Center and Red­stone Test­ing Center to up­date test­ing stan­dards such as MIL-STD-810G based on the out­comes of this re­search.

“In mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions, the re­li­a­bil­ity of com­po­nents and de­vices play a vi­tal role in mis­sion suc­cess be­cause some of th­ese de­vices pro­vide cru­cial tasks such as con­trol, guid­ance, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and re­con­nais­sance,” Habtour said.

For years, he said, the mil­i­tary has had to rely on com­mer­cially-avail­able com­po­nents that are not de­signed for mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions. But this has led to con­cerns about their re­li­a­bil­ity in harsh bat­tle­field en­vi­ron­ments. None­the­less, th­ese com­po­nents can be eas­ily ruggedised with the aid of the mul­ti­ax­ial shaker that can sim­u­late a “real-world” vi­bra­tory en­vi­ron­ment.

The two-year ef­fort cov­ers com­po­nents in most ground and air ve­hi­cles from 20 to 3,000 hertz, such as AH-64, UH-60, C-130, MATV, JLTV, mil­i­tary ro­bot­ics and com­mer­cial au­to­mo­tives and air­craft. The work does not cover the vi­bra­tion spec­trum of pro­jec­tiles or mis­siles in flight.

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