Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-28-0109
2019-10-11

Thumb Design and Optimization for Backhoe Loader 2019-28-0109

Product Engineering organizations are committed to provide solutions with right quality and value to customers. Value improvement and efficient product improvement are key considerations for product engineering. In this paper, Author outlines the summary of Thumb Design and Optimization for Backhoe Loader. This project goal was to come up with own thumb design. The Backhoe thumb attachment was previously a Proprietary Design of the supplier which had two major limitations, limited opportunity of design improvements for resolving customer issues and higher total cost. The paper covers details about overcoming these limitations. In Backhoe loaders, for multiple variants of machines, four different thumbs are used. Small and mid-backhoe machine classes use 4-tine and 2-tine thumb depending upon customer applications. The design team targeted an external customer requirement of a more compact design and internal requirement of accelerating design improvement cycle time. To overcome these concerns, along with few more constraints, a full study of new thumb design was conducted. Key constraints included compatibility to current design, maintain tip forces, and optimize for a compact design. The verification (FEA) of initial concepts were conducted and new Engineering Analysis Procedures (EAPs) were developed for both virtual and physical testing. The proto models of new thumbs were developed and validated with EAPs developed to understand robustness of design. The newly designed thumbs were then optimized based on actual strain data to make the design compact. With several design iterations, 2 new prototypes were developed in in-house facility for field durability validation and process improvements. Important project achievements included a successful production launch of the first owned designed thumb, with 71% total cost reduction, and a fully compact design optimized to cater customer needs and part count. The project execution involved great communication and collaboration with Design, FEA PV&V, Marketing, Customer support, Prototype and Manufacturing teams. Author recommends conducting the feedback session with customers on new design to get any more improvement needed.

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