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                       DAILY                       THURSDAY
                                                        JUNE 1, 2000
                                                 OAKLAND COUNTY           Friday
                                                                         High 75
                                                                                      High 75
           – Page 1B                                     MICHIGAN
                                                            50 CENTS
                                           Low 60       Low 48
                                                                        Complete forecast, Page 2A

Their train of thought:
Pampered cargo better serves
suppliers, buyers

Control Power-Reliance President Ed Myles demonstrates a rail impact-
testing machine the company launched in Madison Heights this week.
Their train of thought:
Pampered cargo better serves
suppliers, buyers
By Tom Willard                                                                         window into the effects of coupling as
Daily Tribune Staff Writer                    The Troy company is helping              they test prototype shipping racks and
                                                                                       dunnage, the protective components
                                              automakers and other manu-               that surrounds parts inside of a rack.
    Few disappointments in life are as        facturers understand the
bitter as discovering your brand-new                                                      “They get to see that event before it
automobile has something wrong with           physical dynamics of train               goes into production,” Myles said.
it.                                           transportation with a system                Design improvements for shipping
    Whether it’s a wobble in the              hailed as the first of its kind in       equipment can save automakers
steering wheel or a rattle in the                                                      millions of dollars, particularly now
                                              the industrial world.                    that parts are being sent greater
instrument panel, no buyer wants to
return to the dealership for warranty                                                  distances by rail, with assembly plants
repairs while that new-car smell is still   specially designed to withstand            in Mexico and Canada.
fresh.                                      repeated collisions, while providing          Two percent of General Motors
    Automakers don’t like it, either,       engineers with invaluable impact data      vehicle parts are damaged during
especially when they’re not directly to     that is being used to develop better       shipping, according to Tom Su, a
blame for faulty components. Many           shipping containers for the auto           project engineer for the GM North
times, the problem is ot a factory          industry and other manufacturers.          American Containerization Group,
defect but the stress exerted on parts         With that technology comes the          which coordinates design and produc-
during their often-bumpy odyssey            opportunity for redesign and with          tion of shipping containers for all
from manufacturing plants to the            redesign comes the opportunity for         vehicle components except
assembly line.                              saving money,” said Oakland County         powertrains.
    Shipping damages cost the automo-       Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who            Two percent is high, said Su, who
tive industry millions of dollars each      was on hand Tuesday to dedicate the        noted the industry strives for less than
year, and consumers in the long run:        new machine. An open house contin-         a half-percent damage rate. Damaged
Unofficially, they add up to 7 percent      ues today at the facility, 32399 Milton.   parts are either sent back to production
to the sticker price of a new car,             CP-R bought the 25,000-square-          plants to be rebuilt and certified, or
according to Scott Myles, vice presi-       foot building a year ago and started       scrapped.
dent of Control Power-Reliance.             design and construction of the ma-            GM currently ships 30-40 percent
    The Troy company is helping             chine primarily for General Motors,        of body assembly and 15 percent of
automakers and other manufacturers          which also uses a 6-axis vibration         general assembly by rail, although
understand the physical dynamics of         simulator CP-R installed in 1996 at its    “more and more parts are being sent
one frequent mode of transportation –       headquarters on the north side of 14       by truck because of the costliness of
the train – with a new high-tech            Mile, about a half-mile from the           railway damages, said Su.
testing system described as the first of    Madison Heights facility.                     “The technology is catching up to
its kind in the industrial world.              GM has five-year contracts for both     the problem. We’re only now able to
    The Rail Impact-Testing Machine         facilities. CP-R, which hopes to land      do the things needed to catch up to the
provides a real-world simulation of         contracts with other manufacturers,        situation,” said Myles.
rail car coupling, which causes the         invited engineers from Ford and               Until now, railway testing has used
most damage to parts in railway             Daimler-Chrysler to view the rail          hydraulic or pneumatic machines to
shipping. The process is also known as      system Tuesday.                            propel cars; the new computerized
“humping”, because the engine                  The impact machine, which has a         system has acceleration and decelera-
crosses a hump in the track before          patent pending, is similar to vehicle      tion controls that more closely repli-
releasing a car, which rolls back down      crash tests. The rail car, which can       cate how trains move, said CP-R
into the coupling mechanism, of             accommodate up to a six-ton payload,       President Ed Myles.
another car.                                rides a 100-foot track before colliding       “We’ve gotten data on rail cars for
    “The train people are supposed to       with a hydraulic coupling that can be      probably three years and decided there
do this function at 3 mph, but some-        stiffened or dampened to simulate          is a better way of doing it.!
times they get behind schedule and go       real-world conditions.
faster than that. The machine we’ve            It was built atop a 3-million-pound       Staff writer Tom Willard can be
built is designed to simulate speeds of     concrete base, measuring 12 feet deep,     reached via e-mail at
up to 15 mph,” said Myles.                  to deaden the earthquake-like jolt. or
    Dubbed the “Silver Streak,” it is a        The simulation, according to Myles,     by phone at 591-2564.
19,000-pound, steel frame rail car          gives corporate engineers a rare

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