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K-State Today

March 24, 2011

A hitch in time: Advanced Manufacturing Institute helps Humboldt company with new product

By Julie Fosberg

Having a project end up with a hitch was just what a Kansas company and Kansas State University's Advanced Manufacturing Institute wanted.

B&W Trailer Hitches, Humboldt, sought the institute's help with developing a new hitch, testing its functionality and durability, and ensuring it met customer needs and industry standards. B&W manufactures high quality truck beds and trailer hitches.

"We've been working with B&W Trailer Hitches for several years and have developed a strong relationship by establishing ourselves as a knowledgeable and reliable engineering resource. We assist them with engineering design, analysis and testing as needed," said Taylor Jones, chief engineer at the institute.

"For this project, we assisted B&W with their Patriot 16K RV Hitch," Jones said. "The hitch is an industry-standard fifth wheel RV hitch that provides vertical adjustment and fits all standard tow vehicle mounting rails. B&W designed the hitch and AMI used finite element analysis to optimize the design and evaluate its structural integrity. We then utilized physical testing to prepare the product for market."

Other B&W trademark features of the Patriot are a fully articulating head that allows front-to-back and side-to-side pivoting; wraparound jaws for a strong, worry-free connection; and polyurethane bushings that prevent metal on metal contact between the base and the head, Jones said.

"The Patriot was an important addition for our product line," said Mike Mueller, plant manager at B&W Trailer Hitches. "We saved time and money by using AMI's expertise to simulate different design ideas. We were able to launch the product in time for the busy season for the RV market."

More information on B&W Trailer Hitches is available at http://www.turnoverball.com.

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a part of K-State's College of Engineering and a Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation Center of Excellence that provides business and engineering services. More information about the institute is available at http://www.amisuccess.com.