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QMT Products: August 2012
Advanced test facility opens for motorbikes

As a world-leading specialist in the design, manufacture and supply of automotive structures, GKN Structures now offers advanced test regimes for motorcycles at its dedicated test facility in Telford.

With its specially adapted MTS 327 multi-axial spindle-coupled road simulator, GKN Structures can use its industry-leading capabilities to analyse the performance of motorcycles. Combined with sophisticated data and software installations, the facilities will enable the company to cut testing costs and improve reporting for developers and manufacturers.

After initial data acquisition using a human rider, the rig is adjusted to accurately replicate the  forces and wheel inputs seen by  the motorcycle, including vertical, longitudinal and lateral road inputs, both at the front and rear wheel. Traditionally test facilities may employ a human rider, testing the motorcycle on a pavé surface for 1,000 to 1,200 miles – the equivalent of a vehicle life. Whilst effective, these tests are highly time consuming and expensive, typically taking six to eight weeks to complete.

Without the need for a human rider, GKN Structures is able to execute extensive laboratory-based road and real life simulations in a shorter time period, and provide clients with comprehensive analysis and reporting, unmatched by any other independent testing facility in the UK.

Roy Wakeman, Project Leader, Advanced Engineering at GKN Structures, comments: “Our new laboratory facilities allow us to run further tests in a more expedient time-frame, meaning we can cut testing costs by a substantial amount. The rigs also give us greater flexibility and control over the tests than previously achieved, simulating real time events more accurately. Reporting is comprehensive, retaining a frame of reference through CAE correlation.”

The rig is capable of replicating road surfaces, and durability events. It combines advanced durability testing with the highest levels of laboratory accuracy when assessing quarter, half and full vehicle structures. The MTS 327 and MTS 329 rigs may be used as either as a development rig in correlation with CAE analytical methods, or as a sign-off verification rig to validate vehicle life.

The service offered by GKN Structures’ dedicated test centre benefits from the company’s own extensive design expertise, and long experience as a Tier 1 automotive provider and supplier to defence and mass transit markets.  This enables GKN to offer intelligent feedback on results, not simply reporting on component or vehicle performance, but also advising on ‘design for manufacture’ enhancements.

Roy continues: “We believe we are one of only a very few organisations able to offer a bespoke testing service backed by extensive production expertise. It is this combination which provides our customers with insight which goes beyond simply delivering performance data.

“Our close link to manufacturing provides our test centre users with access to a scale and breadth of expertise not normally found in dedicated stand-alone test facilities. It is GKN’s ability to combine the Development Testing and Engineering Analysis expertise with that of our Design and Production teams that allows us to offer a holistic approach to problem solving.”
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