LORD Invests in Military Suspension Production Cell in Cambridge Springs, PA
By: Kimberly Kayler , Constructive Communication , 614-873-6706
(Cary, NC — 09/08/2009)
When news of companies downsizing is common, LORD Corporation - a leader in the management of vibration, motion and noise - has announced a major investment in the expansion of a 1,000-square-foot production cell for military vehicle Magneto-Rheological (MR) suspensions within their Cambridge Springs, PA. plant.
The $1-million MR suspension production cell is being built in response to demand for military vehicles and heavy-duty truck market applications. LORD Corporation's MR suspension systems have been demonstrated as a original and retrofit equipment for various military vehicles. Current projects include work with the U.S. government and vehicle OEMs on several vehicle platforms, including the HMMWV, FMTV, MRAPs, as well as opportunities with foreign militaries.
According to Ray Misjan, LORD Program Manager for MR suspension systems, the cell is believed to be the first of its kind related to heavy-duty MR dampers for military and heavy trucks in the world.
"LORD MR suspension systems are well-suited for a wide range of military applications, from lightweight tactical vehicles to line-haul tractors and heavy MRAP vehicles," said Misjan. "These systems have already been demonstrated on a wide variety of military vehicles and the result is very positive. Vehicles outfitted with our system experience less wear and tear, leading to longer vehicle life and greater fuel efficiency. Our product enables greater stability and vehicle body control, allowing increased safety for the driver and occupants, and significantly improved ride quality."
Unlike traditional passive suspensions with fixed characteristics, LORD Corporation's controllable MR suspension systems reacts quickly to both changes in terrain and vehicle dynamic maneuvers, allowing the suspension to adapt its characteristics to the situation. This provides improved dynamic stability over passively damped systems, providing significant benefits. The system includes a controller, damper, as well as software that can be tuned to optimize the vehicle's performance.
Another advantage of the MR suspension system is that it provides approximately 30 percent less pitch and roll, greatly improving the vehicle's stability and handling characteristics. Further, the system reduces absorbed energy by 50 percent or more and peak loads by more than 60 percent. This means the vehicle will experience less wear and tear, resulting in longer vehicle life, greater fuel efficiency and a much smoother ride with enhancing occupant safety.
Key electromechanical systems and aerospace products were initially brought into the Cambridge Springs plant in 2007. Since then, LORD has added manufacturing capabilities for its patented MR fluid based devices to the plant in early 2009. With these additions, the Cambridge Springs facility now serves as LORD Corporation's primary electromechanical production facility for new and existing defense and commercial industrial applications. Further, the location is close to LORD Corporation's technical center in Erie, Pa. Manufacturing of MR fluid and other MR fluid-based devices occurs in the company's Cary, N.C. manufacturing plant and engineering center.
"In a time when many companies aren't funding capital expenditures, we are excited about the opportunity to launch this line in response to market need," said Lane Miller, Vice President-Technology, LORD Corporation.
Planning for the MR line started in January and a wide variety of specialized equipment and tooling is established in order to support production orders.
Jim Robertson, LORD Senior Staff Manufacturing Engineer, stated that the intent of the 1,000-square-foot cell is to support a broad ranging product line.
"We designed the first production system to fit our early demonstration products, however, our equipment will accommodate a +/-30 percent change in diameter and length envelope," said Robertson.
LORD Corporation's MR technology has been thoroughly proven through the licensing and broad intellectual property portfolio used in developing Delphi's MagneRideTM suspension system. First introduced on the 2002 Corvette, the system now appears on more than 500,000 automobiles in more than a dozen models from a wide range of manufacturers including Audi, Acura, Ferrari, GM, Holden and Honda. The rapid acceptance of the technology by a wide range of manufacturers, from high-performance sports cars to SUVs, demonstrates the confidence the automotive industry has in the performance, reliability and durability of LORD MR technology.
In recent lab tests conducted by LORD, MR suspension systems for HMMWV and other military vehicles surpassed 4-million cycles of durability testing. In some cases, the LORD MR damper exceeded 5-million cycles. The passive damper specification requires a sinusoidal test of 1-million cycles up to 120-degrees-Celsius. Testing performed by LORD exceeded this requirement and included severe off-road HMMWV mission profiles with a side load at higher temperatures. The vehicle-based durability testing exceeded 15,000 miles of accelerated, off-road operations with no degradation of MR fluid.
In a related effort, LORD has completed qualification testing of the MR damper system controller. The controller is designed to accommodate any vehicle, wheeled or tracked, 4x4 up to 8x8 wheel-ends with one standardized box. The controller is ruggedized to meet harsh environmental conditions including MIL-STD-1275 for power quality, MIL-STD-461 for EMC/EMI and MIL-STD-810 for environmental factors for both military and demanding commercial applications. Further, it is capable of a 40-inch fording submersion (box depth), the connectors are MIL-DTL-38999 compatible and the system is J1939 data bus compliant.
In the last several years, LORD has been designing and testing production-intent MR suspension hardware built for the needs of military and heavy commercial vehicles. According to Jesse DePriest, LORD Sales and Marketing Manager, support from the Michigan and North Carolina Congressional Delegations as well as the U.S. Army's Tank and Automotive Command (TACOM) and the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) organizations has been critical in transitioning this commercial dual-use, strategic technology to address the military's ground vehicle mobility needs.
"Building MR suspension systems for our nation's warfighters that provide the most versatile mobility enhancing suspension upgrades available is always in the forefront of everyone's mind here at LORD," said DePriest.