The value in breaking things

The value in breaking things

People often comment that our job must be fun - we get to design, make and break things!  And it’s true, breaking stuff can be a lot of fun.  Nevertheless, the real reason we use testing in our development process is to save our clients’ money. We save them money by using testing to make their products leaner and better tuned for the needs of the market. Read on below to find out how.

The value in breaking things

It is often said that “all computer models are wrong, but some are useful” and this is one of our core design philosophies. Theories, design equations and computer models are useful tools, but they are reliant on a series of assumptions and approximations such as material properties, load paths, and second order effects.  These assumptions invariably lead to over-engineering and waste.  If you really want to extract the full capacity out of a system you need to push it to its limits and remove assumptions.  The best way to do this is through physical testing.

A testing-led design process leaves nowhere for assumptions to hide.  Instead, the results provide a true measure of the product’s capacity and opportunity for cost savings.  The critical outcome, in the vast majority of cases, is that physical testing confirms the product is much better than calculations show.  This is not that surprising; engineers will make conservative assumptions and as a result the economics suffer. 

For our clients, the space between the predicted performance and the actual performance costs money.  Physical testing allows the product to be refined while providing definitive confidence that the necessary performance is maintained.  It also allows our clients to manufacture products that are more cost effective and tailored for their intended use.  Time and again we have proven the benefits of this approach. Like the time we reduced a product’s steel content by over 50%, or when we extended this product’s life by 450%.

The great thing is that testing-led development is approved as an alternative to calculation in most design standards.  This means that the results can be used as evidence of compliance.  To be extra sure, we undertake rigorous statistical analysis of the results to ensure that the final product remain 100% fit for purpose.  Product safety is always our number one concern.

Testing led design creates a true win-win situation; our clients end up with better products that are cost effective, and compliant with the design codes.  Crucially, we achieve this without reducing the safety of the products.  Instead we simply identify and remove unnecessary conservatism created from a more traditional design process. 

The commercial gains made using this approach are impressive.  We have shown this on countless occasions.  Every over designed unit leaves fat in the system and profit margins suffer.  Computer modelling and calculation will only ever provide a good solution. If you want an outstanding solution, you might need to break your product to make it better.

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Published November, 2015