Tigercat has a reputation in the marketplace for producing high-quality, durable, and well-designed products. Every employee who works on a machine from the research and development stage through to the aftersale support plays an important role in the process. This series will look at different roles within Tigercat, introducing the team members who perform specialized tasks.
— Chris McMillan
Tigercat engineers and designers use solid modelling software to design machine parts and components. By doing this, they can generate a three-dimensional representation of a machine to verify fitment of parts and check for design issues that may not be obvious in a flat drawing. Another big advantage is the ability to run Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on structural components or entire machines.
FEA is the technique of simulating real-life machine applications in a virtual environment. Engineers are then able to evaluate the performance and reliability of the designs under various loading spectrums based on deformation, stress, strain and fatigue life calculations.
FEA simulation allows engineers to visualize how the cab will behave under the specified load.
Li Quan is an engineering specialist in FEA simulation at Tigercat with over 25 years of experience. Li’s work in FEA began in 1997 working on forestry equipment at Timberjack. After working in other industries, including injection molding machinery and nuclear power, Li came full circle back to forestry equipment. He has been with Tigercat for over ten years.
Rather than working in a particular product group, Li works as a FEA specialist across all product groups. The scope of his duties can range from simulating cab structural tests to working on the main components for new products.
All operator cabs must pass ISO and other compliance standards for Protective Structure Certification through actual lab tests. Testing is done by placing the cab in a large fixture and applying loads to different areas using a large hydraulic ram.
Since these lab tests are destructive and expensive, Li uses FEA to analyze each OPS/ROPS model (the cab plus the supporting structure) as per the standards the cab will be certified for. FEA simulation allows the engineers to visualize how the cab will behave under the specified load. Through design optimization, they can ensure that the cab’s deformation, stress, and strain are all within the acceptable limits.
When the actual test is then performed on the cab, the result is remarkably similar to the simulation. The cost and time savings achieved by using this method is substantial since the actual destructive test is performed only once. The risk of requiring a second cab to perform an additional test is almost eliminated.
Stress analysis is performed on large components such as booms, chassis, and undercarriages. Li is responsible for running the FEA software on the models that are created by engineering to find areas that may be susceptible to failure under load. The designer can then use the data to strengthen the vulnerable areas. Another important task for Li is to analyze components from the field that have encountered failure. In this case, Li uses the FEA technique to determine the root causes, so proper correction
FEA software is used to show the deformation of the leveling feller buncher by simulating a load on the end of the boom.
measures, including field kits and design modifications, can be applied to existing machines and future products to eliminate the issue. Tigercat recently developed a Finite Element Analysis Technical Team with members representing each product group. The goal of the team is to share knowledge, develop design guides, and improve administrative efficiencies.