Shake, Rattle and Roll! Simulating Vibration, Impact and Fatigue for IoT

Did you know that NASA has shown that 45 percent of the first-day spacecraft electronics failures were due to damage caused by vibrations during launch? That American consumers have spent over $6 billion repairing and replacing smartphones after they’ve been dropped? With the Internet of Things (IoT), electrical devices and systems must be more resilient than ever, resistant to changes in temperature, dust infiltration, electromagnetic interference, vibration, impact, and fatigue.

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Sensors on a continuous miner are subjected to harsh environments

Nowhere is this more true than with industrial devices. In the coal mining industry for example, Continuous Miners — machines with a large rotating steel drum equipped with tungsten carbide teeth that scrape coal from the coal seam — can mine as much as 5 tons of coal an hour and account for almost 45% of coal production today. Remote controlled continuous miners are used to work in a variety of difficult conditions and robotic versions controlled by computers are becoming increasingly common. If sensors on one of these immense machines fails, the results can not only be expensive, but lethal.

Roughnecks pulling pipe during oil well drilling operation.

Roughnecks pulling pipe during oil well drilling operation.

Another example are drilling rigs that explore the depths of the earth to find new sources of gas and oil. As the drills penetrate deeper and deeper, the temperature increases by roughly 25°C per kilometer. Electronic components in a logging while drilling tool must not only operate at temperatures exceeding 200°C, but they must also withstand intense vibrations and fatigue. The threshold for reliability is very high: if the equipment fails, the entire rig goes down.

Engineers designing these large machines must consider vibration, fatigue and impact very early in the development process when design choices can be made at the lowest cost with the least impact to the project schedule. However, building physical prototypes for these very large machines is vastly expensive and time-consuming. Simulating a virtual prototype can pinpoint solutions and guide tradeoffs early in the design process, before significant investments have been made. As a result, many more alternatives can be tried, resulting in better performance at lower cost.

Vibrational fatigue, the damage vibrations inflict over time, is another consideration that can’t be easily tested with a physical prototype. Not only would the equipment need to physically stressed for years, but physically recreating all the effects of the environmental extremes, like the heat and pressure drills are subject to, is nearly impossible. Engineering simulation can account for all of the relevant physical forces while it models vibration, fatigue, and impact.

Watch this simulation of the effect of impact on a smartwatch screen.

ansys webinars this weekIf you want to learn more about how you can use engineering simulation to optimize your design against the effects of vibration, impact and fatigue, register for this May 26th webinar, Shake, Rattle and Roll! Simulating Vibration, Impact and Fatigue for the IoT.