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Driving for Durability

Designing rugged utility vehicles requires engineers to balance time and cost with durability. E-Z-GO, a Textron company located in the United States, develops durable, high-performance vehicles for a variety of off-road uses. In addition to being a leading manufacturer of golf carts, E-Z-GOproduces turf maintenance vehicles, heavy-duty industrial material carriers, versatile personnel carriers and rugged trail utility vehicles.

E-Z-GOengineers were given one week to redesign a utility vehicle frame to eliminate a bend that was causing manufacturing difficulties. The engineering team had a large amount of physical testing data available for the existing frame, which had been captured on the company’s proving ground. This data consisted largely of time histories of loads m e a s u re d a t t h e s p i n d l e w i t h accelerometers, and of stresses and strains measured at various points on the frame with strain gauges. Directly utilizing the load information would h a v e re q u i re d a v e r y c o m p l e x nonlinear model to incorporate the full dynamic behavior of the vehicle — one that might take four days to solve, and many simulation iterations to validate the model and evaluate different design alternatives.

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