2011-2012: In collaboration with Caterpillar, this student team developed and recommended design improvements for the frame of Caterpillar’s 773/775 G-series off-highway trucks. The project goal was to reduce weight and/or cost of the frame components without sacrificing durability or aesthetics.
The team reviewed the current frame and generated CAD models of the relevant components. In consultation with engineers at Caterpillar, the team determined worst-case loading scenarios and then analyzed models of the current components to obtain baseline stress and deformation values. The team then generated and developed concepts for component modification, focusing on three main areas: changes in geometry, changes in materials, and changes in manufacturing processes. The team modeled and analyzed their new concepts, determining modified weight and comparing stress and deformation values against the baseline. The team also generated cost estimates for the new design concepts, based on their research of material and machining costs.
The team compiled their nine recommended design improvements into a report with CAD drawings and design verification documentation for Caterpillar; these recommended designs suggest potential for 10-15% reduction in weight and cost. Pending further evaluation and acceptance by Caterpillar, one or more of the recommended designs could be integrated into the existing truck.