fea03.jpgSmall changes to a tractor’s Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS) can potentially cost ag equipment manufacturers big dollars. But there could be a way to reduce that expense.

Currently, even simple changes such as repositioning or the addition of brackets, and drilling of small mounting holes and other minor modifications require ROPS to undergo expensive destructive testing in order to extend their certification for use.

However, a recent demonstration at the CNHI Engineering Center in Burr Ridge, Illinois, demonstrated a close correlation between the results of their Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and actual physical test results.

FEA is a means of modeling machines in a computer and identifying stresses and potential failure points throughout the structure due to forces applied to the part. The computer model is currently used to develop equipment and analyze designs prior to physically making any parts.

The demonstration was witnessed by participants of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Tractor Test Engineers Conference, hosted by AEM and the National Tractor Test Lab in Lincoln, Nebraska. The group included 41 attendees from 15 countries.

Even though tractor manufacturers would still be charged to extend their ROPS certification, OECD acceptance of the FEA results would save tractor manufacturers significant amounts of time and money because they would not need to perform the physical test which takes several days and destroys the components being tested.

For more information, contact Michael Pankonin, AEM senior director, technical and safety services (mpankonin@aem.org, tel: 414-298-4128).