Electromechanical actuators are small and light devices that play important roles in aircraft control systems converting electrical energy into mechanical movement and can achieve high dynamic forces. Some applications correspond to landing gears, wheel brakes, spoilers, doors, and flaps. They are indispensable in aircraft operations are compact and light weight.
Commercial and defense aircraft manufacturers
Actuation system manufacturers
System engineering consultants
Robotics and Automotive industries - General manufacturing
Reported increase in traveller population
The race for more electric airplanes(MEA)
Regulatory environmental pressure for more efficient fuel efficient aircrafts
Market segmentation and higher competition
Actuation system suppliers struggle meeting expected deadlines, resulting in reported backlogs in aircraft deliveries.
During experience developing aircraft electromechanical actuators, I came across shortcomings in the development cycle, associated with the supplier's challenge meeting deadlines. This inspired me to studying the problem and search for improvements in the development flow. Focus became the time and quality of the calculated early stages requirement specifications and allocation activities.
It’s well known that the systems engineer can use his/her own experience to guess what is, for example, the most adequate gear ratio according to existing motors and gear trains. Later in the product development, the design team can make changes and adjust the dependence parameters and other components, perhaps with the help of simulators, so the desired load profile and performance are met. In general this try-and-error process is time consuming because it starts off from sub-optimal parameters, such as a guessed gear ration someone picked up out of thin air!
We designed and prototyped a mobile app that takes typical top level requirements such as the available power, voltage, mission time and torque. It automatically derives optimized gear train ratio and motor requirements that follow a optimization criteria, every time. Figure 1 shows the conceptual two engineering input/output screens. Figure 2 presents the operational prototype.
Requirements generated this way reduce process iterations converging to the final design more rapidly and accurately. Team leaders feel the positive impact of this approach right from their start. They work with more mature specifications in the preliminary and in the detailed design phases.
The tool offers simple numeric data input, tailored to the well versed engineer as shown in the first two illustrations. Subsequent releases, will include graphical load profile definition as input data and scrollable case study storage.
In its prototype version, it is available for test and was presented to potential customers and sales engineers who suggested it other actuator types be included.
According to recent studies, the aircraft actuation market is expected to reach over US$1billion by 2021. From my experience, the Opti-Mizer[R] can have direct cost savings of $200K-$300K just in the composition of the Performance Requirement Specification document. Additional savings are expected in subsequent product development phases.
Figure 3, shows a partial wireframe when two additional actuation types are included.