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K-State Today

November 9, 2011

Loading up on success: Advanced Manufacturing Institute helps Sterling company boost product performance

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

With help from Kansas State University's Advanced Manufacturing Institute, a Sterling company has been able to optimize its product designs, strengthening the quality of its product line.

KMW Loaders designs and builds front-end loaders and backhoes that are used on AGCO, Case, John Deere, Mahindra and New Holland agricultural and residential tractors. The Advanced Manufacturing Institute and KMW have been working together for several years, utilizing finite element analysis to determine the structural integrity of their products. The institute also recently trained KMW staff on finite element analysis methods and how to effectively use the methods during the product development process.

"Companies today are looking to be more competitive in their market," said Taylor Jones, chief engineer at the institute. "Computer simulation tools produce a significant competitive disadvantage for those without them. The Advanced Manufacturing Institute utilized finite element analysis to provide the foundation for predicting product performance throughout the development process for KMW Loaders."

Integrating finite element analysis, also known as FEA, into the design process enables a company to simulate structural behavior, make design changes and see the effects of the design changes automatically and quickly. Finite element analysis also streamlines product testing by eliminating the need for unnecessary tests.

"FEA provides many advantages for KMW Loaders," Jones said. "Computer simulations can be done without the expense of fabricating and testing multiple prototypes, potentially saving significant amounts of time and money. Design changes can also be made and a new analysis rerun within a shorter period of time. The Advanced Manufacturing Institute was able to enhance as well as ensure durability and reliability of KMW Loaders' products."

"The Advanced Manufacturing Institute has moved KMW forward with FEA at a much quicker pace because of the experienced FEA people the institute has and their hands-on knowledge of the actual product," said Dave Schneider, vice president, KMW Loaders. "We could have gone to other types of FEA training, but using the institute for this training allowed us to learn what FEA can do for us on the products we design and manufacture."

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a part of the K-State College of Engineering, a Kansas Department of Commerce Center of Excellence and an Economic Development Administration University Center that provides engineering and business services. More information about the institute is available online at http://www.amisuccess.com.