Meet Necessity, Invention’s Mom
Our founder’s original vision was to service NASCAR and other race teams with independent and confidential K&C testing. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this meant we would be working with race teams to test stock cars. The Anthony Best Dynamics SPMM was designed and built to test production vehicles in a predefined and tame way. Racecar engineering is not tame. It is controlled, deliberate, and powerful, but not tame.
Working with racecars and race teams brought unforeseen challenges and opportunities. We needed to drive higher loads into the tires, we needed to change springs and rear axles while the car was on the rig, and we needed real-time reporting so that engineers could adjust the test plan and investigate issues as they went. It is often repeated, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” These unique challenges proved to be our opportunities to innovate. It is because of these dynamic requirements that our team developed the innovations we use today to test production vehicles and racecars with unique excellence, capacity, and clarity.
Racecars experience extreme loads on the track. Lateral loads in a corner and longitudinal loads while braking far exceed those experienced by production vehicles in normal use. The K&C rig drives lateral and longitudinal loads into the wheels at the ground plane via four wheel pads. The original interface between the wheel pads and the tires is a coarse sandpaper surface. When attempting to drive racecar-magnitude forces through this interface we quickly discovered that the wheel pads would slip past the tires. The sandpaper interface couldn’t hold up under high loads.
To correct this, different race teams developed a range of different spike plates. There was a varying amount of success. Finally, in collaboration with the teams, we settled on a design that has proven to be durable and effective. This design has been so successful, that it is now offered by Anthony Best Dynamics as an optional upgrade for SPMM users around the world.
By extending the use of our spike plates to production vehicles, we are able to capture a fuller picture of the compliance behavior of any given vehicle. Production vehicles do not experience the forces exerted on racecars, but our extended capacity contributes to a better understanding of production vehicle suspensions.
Another challenge-turned-opportunity in testing racecars was the desire to make quick changes to the car while on the K&C rig. Being able to change springs between tests, swap anti-roll bars, or even replace entire rear-ends would allow teams to get more data out of a single test day. In short, their ROI would be much higher if they could work on the suspension without removing the car from the rig.
The primary roadblock keeping teams from working on the car was accessibility. A K&C machine is to a lift what the Hubble telescope is to a pair of eyeglasses. There isn’t much real estate on the rig that can be trampled on; especially near the wheels, which is of course right where you need to stand if you’re working on the suspension.
To improve access to the suspension we developed a set of work platforms and steps. We developed a large work platform and a small step.
The large work platform provides a large standing/squatting area while working on the suspension for longer periods. While providing incredible accessibility, this platform requires that the encoder strings be detached for installation. We can install or uninstall this platform in under 3 minutes.
The smaller work step provides room for one person to stand, but it gives crucial access to under the hood. Testing can continue with this smaller step installed, expediting changes.
The SPMM K&C rig yields massive amounts of data. For race engineers (as with other engineers) accessing this information while testing opens a door to better understanding. If a new component behaves differently than expected the engineer can investigate immediately…not three days later when reviewing the data. There are two keys to providing insights real-time. The data must be available real-time or nearly so and the data must be understandable without additional processing.
To make the data available real-time we developed a set of software tools in MATLAB that allow us quickly create MATLAB data files and PDF reports. By using these tools we are able to create several types of accessible data files and reports within 5 minutes and provide these files to in-shop clients instantly for review.
We designed each data file type and report type to make the insights hidden in the data more accessible. This combination of data files and reports brings key observations to the surface while providing the raw data in a format easily manipulated for your own reporting. These innovations are all designed to make the squiggly line graphs coming out of the machine work for you and your program advancement.
Since our inception in 2003, we have applied what we learned and developed in the motorsports world to production vehicles, electric vehicles, UTVs, and more. This development and application allows us to support companies who are pushing the boundaries in their own spaces. K&C testing an extreme UTV with long travel is not a simple task, but taking on complex and innovative projects runs in our blood. We will continue to push, improve, and innovate.