Mackay boosts rubber process with modelling software

Investment by Mackay Consolidated Industries in cutting edge software and infrastructure for its Product and Process Development department has reportedly resulted in a truly multi-faceted business.

MACKAY Consolidated Industries is an Australian owned private company and a major supplier of a diverse range of engineered rubber and bonded metal/rubber composite products for the automotive, defence, transport, construction and industrial markets.

The PPD department has a number of functions. The first involves the design and development of new rubber products and the second, refining and modernising existing products.

The department is also responsible for the tooling design for the multitude of moulds that are required for Mackay’s extensive product range.

“In simplistic terms our role is to take a customer’s concept or problem, work out the technical solution and design an end product that can be manufactured cost effectively,” said Mackay’s product development manger, Ian Simmonds.

Rubber is a notoriously difficult material to model and to aid in the design function, Mackay has invested in the latest proprietary tools including licenses for the powerful Adams Kinematic Modeler, and the ANSYS non linear Finite Element Modeler.

These virtual engineering tools enable Mackay to understand the system and review how rubber components will perform across a wide range of real life conditions.

The ANSYS tool enables Mackay to examine areas such as stress/strain levels, modal analysis and importantly, calculate the rubber volume required and cure temperature/time parameters before the part is manufactured. The Adams modeler enables Mackay to build a virtual vehicle to test its theoretical dynamic behavior.

“The crucial thing about these software tools is that they allow us to bypass or reduce the expensive and time consuming steps of producing pre-production models – we can proceed confidently and expediently to full scale production,” Simmonds said.

The PPD department is also involved with Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) projects which in some cases can literally take years to complete — especially with hi-tech items such as defence products.

The third function that the PPD department has responsibility for relates to specific problem solving — bringing the department’s extensive facilities, skills and knowledge bank to focus on and solve a particular problem or issue that a customer has encountered — often when a product is already in use and a fix is required quickly.

A typical example would be a vibration issue on the engine or transmission of a car or boat. Given that rubber is the best vibration dampener available, Mackay’s experience would be applied to this and a suitable remedy developed and applied to the offending area. This often necessitates the design of a unique component that can be retro fitted to the existing assembly.

In addition to the full scale NATA accredited laboratory, Mackay also has a mobile vibration testing unit which allows Mackay staff to travel out to customers and analyse issues at customers’ premises — saving time and money.

“I think you’d be hard pressed to find a department which has more design tools and staff experience than ours – not just in Australia, but the world,” Simmonds said.

“World class is a term that’s often used without substance, but in our case we believe we can confidently make that claim.”

Mackay is a first tier supplier to a number of Automotive OEM’s including Ford, General Motors and Toyota. They are also a second tier supplier to a number of other manufacturing companies which provide various products to the major automotives.

Mackay is also a long term supplier to the Australian Defence Industry, providing products such as submarine components (internal & external), signature reduction materials for surface warships, tank tracks, road wheels and pads, ballistic shields and launch silo covers for ESSM missiles for use on NATO warships.