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The Structural Dynamics Lab’s facility manager David Friberg instructs Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears on the ins-and-outs of the vehicle vibrations facility.
The Structural Dynamics Lab’s facility manager David Friberg instructs Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears on the ins-and-outs of the vehicle vibrations facility.

High tech simulator replicates wear and tear within minutes

The Canadian Government has built a state of the art heavy vehicle-testing simulator that can replicate 30 years of vehicle deterioration in a matter of weeks.

The Canadian National Research Council’s Structural Dynamics Lab in Ottawa collects vibration and acceleration data from real world vehicle testing in rugged terrain, such as a quarry’s haul roads, and can recreate that experience at its vehicle vibration facility.

The Structural Dynamics Lab uses an inactive quarry to the east of Ottawa as the initial test bed for heavy vehicles. It has mapped the quarry, including the roughest sections, using a LIDAR mounted to a remote-controlled helicopter.

David Friberg
David Friberg
“We can compress it in time so that two minutes of operation [in the simulator] might be a day’s worth of operation in the field. So we can run a 30-year test in a matter of couple of weeks”
David Friberg, Structural Analysis Lab

The quarry testing range helps to measure the typical acceleration and vibration levels that a vehicle will experience in a single day. From the data gathered at the test site (omitting information about the least roughest sections of the trail), the lab then develops the drive file as a starting point for further analysis and predictions in the vehicle vibration simulator.

“We go through that [real world] data and take out all the very roughest sections to create a drive file, which is a time history of the vertical displacement of the wheels,” David Friberg, facilities manager at the Structural Dynamics Lab, told the Ottawa Citizen.

“We can compress it in time so that two minutes of operation [in the simulator] might be a day’s worth of operation in the field. So we can run a 30-year test in a matter of a couple of weeks.”

The simulator consists of a selection of hydraulic actuators that are configured to provide inputs to the vehicle, sub-system or component as required. It then accurately reproduces the vehicle’s response, allowing for controlled investigations and accelerated test programs of rail and road vehicles and components.

Friberg said the lab was one of the most versatile of its kind, and had been reconfigured to test military vehicles, trucks, buses and semi-trailers.

“[We see] about a 20 per cent pass rate because normally we are testing vehicles early in their design cycle and they [the manufacturers] are looking for problems,” he said. “Often they are intentionally pushing the envelope as far as they can. The failures aren’t catastrophic, but they might get a cracked frame or a broken part and then they go back and reinforce it.”

Friberg said half of the lab’s customers came from United States-based vehicle and defence equipment manufacturers.

 

A LIDAR mounted to a remote-controlled helicopter was used to map a trail within the quarry.
A LIDAR mounted to a remote-controlled helicopter was used to map a trail within the quarry.

 

 

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