JUNE 1, 2000
OAKLAND COUNTY Friday
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Their train of thought:
Pampered cargo better serves
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org 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