AMRC testing expertise helps airport infrastructure specialist secure international approvals

03 December 2015

airplane turbine detail

Experts from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing have helped a UK manufacturer hit tight deadlines after it won a prestigious order from the Middle East.

Cavotec UK makes a range of safety critical products used by airports, ports and maritime, mining and tunnelling companies, as well as general industry.

Its expertise includes airplane refuelling systems and special covers for manholes and service ducts which have to withstand the weight of the largest, commercial jets, when they are fully laden.

The company, based at Stockton-on-Tees, in County Durham, sought the help of the AMRC's Advanced Structural Testing Centre when it was having difficulty finding anyone in the UK able to test and validate the performance of the larger size airport utility access chamber covers it was developing and manufacturing.

To make matters worse, testing needed to be completed in time to meet tight deadlines if the company was to secure the global approval it needed to win an order for a major airport in the Middle East.

"It was quite a challenge," said AMRC head of Advanced Structural Testing, Phil Spiers.

"We had to design and create a special machine from scratch, which could exert maximum loads of up to 200 tonnes on a small area of covers that could be up to six feet long by four feet wide, to ensure they could more than withstand the weight of an aircraft running over them.

"We used local companies to make heavy duty columns and a cross beam capable of being mounted on our 10 metre square flexible strong floor and holding the 2MN (2 mega newton) actuator applying the load.

"Once the test rig was built, we had to install sensors to measure the deflection when the load was applied to the covers and ensure they returned to their original state when the load was removed - and, we had to do all that within five weeks."

Since completing the initial testing the Advanced Structural Testing Centre has been working with Cavotec as the company develops new designs and manufacturing methods to ensure it continues to meet stringent international airport safety standards.

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