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Nottingham University has selected a digital controller and software from Tiab to solve the instability issues and resultant large vibrations being experienced by its six-actuator shaft test rig.

The instability issues experienced by the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering’s shaft test rig were manifested by vibrations at around 150Hz.

The rig is an important piece of equipment, and is used by one of the department’s research groups in the development of drive shafts for Rolls-Royce and other European aero-engine manufacturers.

The quality of the data was paramount, and was in question.

The rig, initially installed 15 years ago, was upgraded with a new controller three years ago, but had not functioned properly.

Dr Ed Williams said: ‘These vibrations and excessive forces were potentially damaging to the specimen and had rendered the test rig largely unusable.

‘Furthermore, the problem was intermittent and could neither be forced into instability, nor could it be prevented.

‘The current provider of the test rig had tried very hard to solve the problem, but the equipment and its software were unable to be adapted to control the instability,’ he added.

By chance, Conway Young, technical director of Tiab, was visiting the department to discuss another project.

Williams explained the control issues that were affecting the rig and Conway was confident that Tiab’s digital controller and software could solve the problems.

Tiab then made an offer to come in and set up a system to prove its capabilities.

The next week, Tiab spent a day setting up a two-channel system to demonstrate the ability of its control solution.

Within the space of one day, the system was configured and in control of the rig.

A dummy specimen was used and the system put through its paces.

Williams liked the look and cost of the software and, crucially, the instability issue had vanished.

An order was placed to upgrade to the full six-channel system, which was installed within a month.

Tiab has now delivered a bespoke, user-friendly front-end software product, with the flexibility to cater for the needs and uses of many researchers within the group who perform a variety of fairly well-defined tests.

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