Necessity and Invention: Getting Durability Right and Winning

Will Mars Delivering Keynote Presentation as Herzlich Medal Winner 2022

William V. Mars, Ph.D., P.E.
2022 Harold Herzlich Award Winner
Acceptance Speech
at ITEC 2022, Akron, Ohio on 15 September 2022

Three key takeaways from our founder’s acceptance speech of the tire industry’s highest award.

  1.  There is a point at which commercial simulation code outcompetes internally developed simulation code. Will talks about how this played out in the early days of finite element technology in the tire industry, and how the lessons learned apply to durability simulation today.
  2. Traditional is not the same as conservative. Will talks about the tension between the tire industry’s conservatism and the necessities that drive its progress, and how Endurica navigated its entry to the industry with its disruptive technology.
  3. The industry is going through a transition from scientific discovery and invention towards the empowerment of product developers to leverage advances in durability simulation. Will talks about the integration of testing and simulation workflows, and some of the capabilities that open new channels for gaining competitive advantage.

Check out the full talk here to enjoy some fun insights about Will’s personal journey through the years.

 

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The 5-50-500 Rule

The 5, 50, 500 Rule with dice showing Chance to Change

2 Minute Read | 400 Words

I ran a marketing consulting business for 30 years before joining Endurica and tried to save clients from learning the hard way. When brochures were the only way to convey a company’s message (pre-internet), it was critical that people understood the $5, $50, $500 rule.

  • $5 = cost for changes during the earliest design phase. This is the point where everything is on the table as you develop the look, feel, message, and content of the brochure.
  • $50 = cost to make changes at the first mock-up of the brochure. No big deal. At this stage, changes take a bit of work and may impact multiple pages or sections – but it’s a LOT better to make changes now than later and I encouraged people to speak up about anything/everything because change was still pretty easy. Approval at this stage sends us into production.
  • $500 = cost to make changes after we sent the brochure to the printer. That’s the cost to change even one LETTER, let alone a photo or – heaven forbid – an entire page. It was at this point that one client said “ok, now I’ll read it” and I had to stop myself from throwing a file at him.

All of this came up as we talked about the value of our software in rubber product development. The concept’s the same but the numbers are SO MUCH BIGGER. “Add about 3 zeroes to each of those steps,” remarked Tom Ebbott, Endurica’s VP and newest team member. “It’s the same concept in tire development but the impact is just so much bigger.

From a technical side, one of our client’s says it best: “In optimizing a geometry to extend the fatigue life of a product I ran a few iterations of inner-cavity geometries, and found one specific geometry with Endurica that achieved 500,000 cycles to failure in contrast to the 30,000 I had before. It’s more than a 10-time improvement and that’s really significant. These concrete numbers are really powerful in helping us and our customers to make good decisions.” Francois Rouillard, R&D Mechanical Engineer, Maestral Sealing Laboratory, Technetics, Pierrelatte, France.

WHY IT MATTERS: Endurica’s users find THE BEST solution to their client’s problem early — at the $5,000 stage of design. They can skip the multiple iterations that easily run $50,000 each and go right into the $500,000 production testing cycle with complete trust in the product’s success.

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Durability by Design on Any Budget

Durability by Design

So, you’ve got a tricky durability problem to solve, a budget, and a deadline.  Let’s look at a helpful framework for sorting which Endurica workflows you need.  In the grid below, each row represents a potential approach you can take.  The approaches are, in order of increasing complexity and cost, the Infinite Life approach, the Safe Life approach, the Damage Tolerant approach, and the Fail Safe approach.

Endurica Durability Workflows

The Infinite Life approach is by far the simplest approach.  Here, we say that damage will not be allowed at all.  All locations in the part must operate, at all times, below the fatigue limit (ie intrinsic strength) of the rubber.  The required material testing is minimal: we need only know the fatigue limit T0 and the crack precursor size c0.  We avoid the question of how long the part may last, and we focus on whether or not we can expect indefinite life.  We report a safety factor S indicating the relative margin (ie S = T0 / T) by which each potential failure location avoids crack development.  When S>1, we predict infinite life.  For S<=1, failure occurs in finite time and we must then go on to the next approach…

In the Safe Life approach, the chief concern is whether or not the part’s estimated finite life is adequate relative to the target life.  The material characterization now becomes more sophisticated.  We must quantify the various “special effects” that govern the crack growth rate law (strain crystallization, temperature, frequency, etc.).  We consider the specific load case(s), then compute and report the number of repeats that the part can endure.  If the estimated worst-case life is greater than the target life then we may say that the design is safe under the assumptions considered.  If not, then we may need to increase the part’s load capacity, or alternatively to decrease the applied loading to a safe level.  In critical situations, we may also consider implementing the next level…

The Damage Tolerant approach acknowledges that, whatever the reasons for damage, the risk of failure always exists and therefore should be actively monitored.  This approach monitors damage development via inspection and via tracking of accrued damage under actual loading history.  A standard nominal load case may be assumed for the purpose of computing a remaining residual life, given the actual loading history to date.  Changes in material properties due to cyclic softening or ageing may also be tracked and considered in computing forecasts of remaining life.

The Fail Safe approach takes for granted that failure is going to occur, and obliges the designer to implement measures that allow for this to happen safely.  This can take the form of a secondary / redundant load path that carries the load once the primary load path has failed.  It can take the form of a sacrificial weak link / “mechanical fuse” that prevents operation beyond safe limits.  It can take the form of a Digital Twin that monitors structural health, senses damage, and requests maintenance when critical damage occurs.

The last three columns of the grid show which Endurica fatigue solver workflows align with each design approach.  The Endurica solvers give you complete coverage of all approaches.  Whether you need a quick Infinite Life analysis of safety factors for a simple part, or deep analysis of Damage Tolerance or Fail Safety, or anything in-between, our solvers have just what you need to get durability right.

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So This Happened on the Show Floor at IEC2019

Convention Floor

“I tell my suppliers to use you all the time.”  – Exact words from an engineer in charge of purchasing key components for a major automaker when he stopped by our booth at the International Elastomers Conference in Cleveland.

“Not all of them listen and there’s one I really wish would hear me. They tell me ‘there is no money for more software and testing’. But we use your software internally and we KNOW it can help them. This supplier has been working on a bushing for us for over a year and they still can’t hit our requirements.”

He went on to tell me how the supplier’s current design is not sufficiently evolved. How it is too risky. How it might compromise vehicle performance.  How he can’t take chances.  How he sure wished they would hear what he’s been saying because he really doesn’t want to pull their business and go to another source but he is running out of time. “I can’t wait much longer.”

“We could use your tools, but profits are measured in pennies. Rubber is a tough industry with low margins and high competition.”  – Exact words spoken probably 15 minutes later from an engineer with a major Tier 2 supplier. This fellow went on to lament how he just had equipment moved out of his facility to another division after losing a contract with a big customer.  “Corporate” decided the equipment would be better utilized elsewhere.  “It’s hard for us to bring in new technology unless our customers will pay for it.”

“Look at the ROI.” – Exact words from Endurica’s president as we were discussing these conversations after the show.  We give out 100 Grand bars at our booth to kick start this kind of conversation, but there is easily more than $100,000/year at stake.  Have you ever calculated your development costs? What if you had durability right the first time, every time? Here is a typical scenario – you can put in your own numbers.  This isn’t the only way to estimate the ROI.  You could also come at it like we did here, or here.

Traditional Development Process With Endurica
Compound Selection 2 months + $20,000 Same
Product Design 2 months + $20,000 3 months + $30,000
Mold and Tooling 6 months + $50,000 Same
Prototype Production 3 months + $25,000 Same
Component Testing 3 months + $25,000 Same
Fleet/Field Testing 12 months + $100,000 Same
Regulatory Compliance 1 month + $10,000 Same
Sub-total, Per Iteration Cost 12 months + $250,000 12 months + $260,000
Development iterations per project launch 2x Right the first time
Total Cost 24 months + $500,000 12 months + $260,000
Savings with Endurica,
per product launch
12 months + $240,000

 Cost of Qualifying Fatigue Performance | 100 Grand

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It Isn’t Durable Unless It’s Reliable

Endurica for Reliability and Durability

A brand promise of durability (i.e. fitness for service over a suitable period) doesn’t mean much unless it is delivered reliably (i.e. with high consistency).  When automakers provide a 100k mile warranty, for example, it is not enough to simply hit the promised life on average.  Falling short of the promised life should occur only very rarely, if at all.

What effort can be justified in pursuing reliability?  A quick way to estimate economic impact is to look at your product’s warranty adjustment rate.  If your manufacturing contract is worth $10 million dollars / year, and your customer returns 1% of the product for premature failures, then you have an opportunity to save $100k / year by eliminating premature failures.  This is a conservative estimate.  If your early failure rate is notably higher than your competition’s, for example, you may find yourself losing contracts or being forced into price concessions that aren’t sustainable.  A high failure rate may also result in legal liability for losses caused by your part.  In this sense, the total value in achieving reliability can actually approach or even exceed the value of your business!

So in design, consider not only the expected life of the most common crack precursor for your material (half of the samples in your population will have shorter life than this!), but consider also the life of the rare oversized crack precursor that occurs 1 time in 100, or 1 time in 1 million.  We recently launched a new Reliability Module to produce these statistics for exactly this purpose, check it out.  Think of it as a way to put a probability-based “safety factor” on fatigue life predictions.

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Solving the Durability Puzzle

Solve the Durability puzzle with EnduricaEver thought about what it takes to deliver the durability you expect from products you use? Durability reflects the combined sum of many decisions made all along the supply chain. What sources to use for raw materials? What dimensions and shape for product features? Are there OEM- or customer-imposed design constraints? What load cases occur in manufacturing, shipping, installation, and operation? Manufacturing processes? OEM-specified qualification and / or regulatory testing requirements? What is the warranty or brand promise? If these decisions are not made well, then durability (as well as cost and weight) will suffer.

The people making these decisions come from many backgrounds.  They are chemists, product engineers, testing engineers, structural analysts.  The big challenge is to organize things so that their contributions all add up to the desired end result: getting durability right, preferably on the first try.  It’s a big challenge because the domain expertise and tools in place today in many organizations were largely built before the science was ready and before the workflows were understood well enough to integrate across disciplines.  This situation can make it quite difficult to solve the durability puzzle.  The pieces don’t all fit together!

  • Oversimplified lab tests whose relationship to actual product use is doubtful
  • Fatigue testing instruments that produce noisy data, or execute with uncontrolled test duration
  • Raw materials suppliers struggling to relate chemistry and process improvements to actual impact on end products
  • Compounders making materials selection decisions based on insufficient / poor information
  • Product engineers missing opportunities to fully leverage material capacity
  • Outdated and inaccurate ‘rule of thumb’ engineering that doesn’t work on new cases
  • Incomplete simulation efforts that fail to forecast or diagnose key durability issues
  • Product qualification tests that under- or over-solicit damage or change failure modes
  • Part suppliers leaving OEMs with too little confidence that durability issues have been handled
  • OEMs and part suppliers struggling to account for actual end-use load cases

Endurica-powered workflows overcome these barriers.  Our training, testing services, testing instruments, and CAE software solutions integrate across disciplines.  Our motto is “Get Durability Right”.

Our classes are geared specifically for your compounders, test engineers, product engineers and analysts.  Your compounder doesn’t need to be a mechanical engineer, but she does need to negotiate the demands on the material.  Your product engineer and your analyst don’t need a PhD in chemistry, but they do need to push for performance that will win for the customer.  Your test engineer needs reliable, productive measurement strategies that get the key information that will power up your materials and product development efforts.  Our classes will pay for themselves many times over when your team confronts the next durability pitfall. 

Our testing services and testing instruments produce a complete picture of what limits durability in your application.  Rubber exhibits many ‘special effects’, and our tests are very useful for quantifying each effect, for building material models, and for solving and diagnosing durability issues.  We partner with leading labs around the world to bring you fast and reliable testing for durability simulation.  We partner with testing instrument maker Coesfeld to bring our protocols directly to your own lab with automated, user-friendly control, measurement and data reduction.  Analysts, designers and materials engineers all need clean, abundant, high-relevance measurements. 

Our software (Endurica CL, Endurica DT, Endurica EIE and fe-safe/Rubber) provides the most complete set of durability analysis capabilities in the world.  Total life, incremental damage, residual life, critical plane analysis, rainflow counting, nonlinear loads mapping, road load signal analysis, stiffness loss co-simulation, self-heating – its all here: documented, supported, validated, with examples and a large user-base.  We support the Abaqus, Ansys and MSC/Marc Finite Element solvers.  Use our software to see how different materials, different geometry, different load / use cases impact durability.  If your materials, product, analysis or testing people can ask the question, chances are that our tools will simulate it and give you new insights. 

Durability doesn’t have to be a difficult puzzle.  It costs way too much when people from different disciplines don’t “speak the same language” and try to go forward with conflicting ideas and tools.  Solve the puzzle by using pieces that fit together.  Get your team speaking Endurican!

Keywords: Compounding, Design, Testing, Analysis, Training

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It sounds like magic but it’s really advanced science and technology

Endurica's simulation calculates the fatigue life of rubber

When people ask me what Endurica does I tell them: You give us a computer file of one full use cycle of your design – be it a tire design or one rotation of a pump that you’re building a seal for – along with a sample of the rubber you’re making the product of and Endurica will tell you when it will break and where. There are many companies who can do that for metals but we’re the only ones who have figured it out for rubber. It all started with our founder’s Ph.D. work in mechanical engineering and his years in tire design. We actually have more clients outside of the U.S. than in, and our non-disclosure agreements don’t allow us to share names but some of the clients who have published technical papers using our software include General Motors, Caterpillar and Tenneco.

I’ve learned that over-engineering seems to be the status quo in the rubber industry. Because Endurica’s methods aren’t as well-known as we would like, many companies do things the way they always have: test the rubber part for a lifetime of use at the most intense conditions to ensure it fails LONG past the time it could ever be used. That build-and-break routine is so embedded in the industry it led to an interesting insight from an engineer who stopped by our booth at a recent conference.

 We don’t have time to do it right, but we do have time to do it over.
     – 2019 SAE World Congress Event Attendee

It seems the company they worked for budgets for five to seven full development cycles (design, build, test to breaking point. Re-design; build…..) I’m told that in the tire industry each round of this process  easily tops $50,000 when you factor in the engineering time, breaks in actual production schedules for samples to be made, plus months in physical testing. It seems that because many do not understand Endurica’s processes and the foundational science/engineering/technology behind it they continue with the accepted norm of “make and break” even though it costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

To prevent failure how much do YOU plan to fail?

If that is too strong of a question let me ask it this way: How many design cycles do you have in the budget this year? Simulation is a powerful tool in design and if you are designing on computer already, adding Endurica’s methods to your simulations is the next logical step to, as we say, Get Durability Right.

Consider using the same design budget you already have but replace just one “round” of traditional design with the purchase of Endurica’s training and a software license. By adding our software to your simulation design system (Abaqus, ANSYS or MSC/Marc)  you can have results within HOURS (not the months of traditional testing) for the durability of each version of your product design. Envision the impact this technology could have on your firm: reduced time to market; greater design flexibility, increased profitability; reduced costs in both engineering and production…

If there was a better way, would you take it?

Endurica does not advocate that you go directly from simulation to production. We simply make it easier for you to do MANY design cycles to get the best design possible before you do actual FEA testing on the best possible option. Maybe it’s time to reconsider your budget for design cycles, and factor in budget money for both the training to thoroughly understand the science behind Endurica’s methods as well as the software which will enable you to have INFINITELY MORE design iterations for the same overall budget. It isn’t magic but it is pretty advanced science and technology. Let’s talk.

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Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Endurica’s 10-Year Anniversary

Endurica | Get Durability Right | 10 YearsIn considering ways to capture the contributions and essence of Endurica LLC to celebrate its tenth year of existence – and educating myself some more about the company I joined a little more than a year ago – I decided to put together the following top 10 list.  Enjoy this informative snapshot of Endurica.

10 years of providing software and testing solutions for elastomer applications to #GetDurabilityRight in automotive, tire, aerospace, sealing, defense, consumer products, energy, and medical industries.

9 countries are using Endurica’s elastomer fatigue analysis software products (Endurica CL™, fe-safe/Rubber™, Endurica DT™, and Endurica EIE™) for finite element analysis (FEA).

8 specialized elastomer characterization modules are available in our Fatigue Property Mapping testing services.

7 years ago, the first training course was offered by Endurica. Today there are three courses that are each taught multiple times around the world every year.

6 is the number of full-time teammates working at Endurica LLC.

5 types of integrated durability solutions are offered by Endurica: FEA software, material characterization services, testing instruments, training, and consulting.

4 patents for Endurica’s innovative technology (3 granted plus 1 pending application). 

3 testing instruments are available in the Americas region through our partnership with Coesfeld GmbH & Co. KG (Germany).

2 members of the Endurica team received the Sparks-Thomas Award from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions and innovations in the field of elastomers.

1st (and only) commercial FEA software to predict when and where cracks will show up in an elastomer product with complex loading and geometry for users of Abaqus™, ANSYS™, and MSC Marc™.twitterlinkedinmail

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Build it or Buy It | Endurica - Get Durability RightWhen you have an unmet simulation or testing need, should you build or buy the capability?

There are testing instruments and software packages available in the market – which have been improved through years of R&D and quality management – that can meet the needs of a technical team in their product development efforts. Despite these turn-key resources, we sometimes see a company tasking some of its engineers to build their own.

Why does this happen?

Companies hire smart and creative engineers and scientists with advanced degrees to populate their R&D centers. It is common, and even expected in many situations, for a graduate student to create customized equipment or software as a part of a Ph.D. or M.S. research project. Pushing the boundaries of science and technology often requires such development of devices or code. Also, limited research funding in academia can force students to build their own equipment. When young engineers start their industrial careers after graduate school, they carry with them the mindset of building and programming things themselves. These individuals excitedly offer to create when a new analysis or measurement need arises within a company, and managers like to encourage the enthusiasm of their technical staff.

But, even if your sharp engineer can build a DIY testing device or computer program that recreates the state-of-the-art commercial products created by teams of engineers across many years, is this an efficient and strategic use of the engineer’s abilities? If your company makes tires, for example, then shouldn’t you have your smart people focused on making better tires rather than making testing instruments or software?  What are the labor costs, and the opportunity costs, of your highly-skilled engineer building a piece of testing equipment compared to the price of the commercial instrument or relative to the return you could make on an actual improvement to your product? Unless you are in a position to surpass the commercial solution, there is no competitive advantage in the DIY solution. Once you have created your own solution, who will maintain and support it? Will you be able to keep it up to date with advances in technology? Do you have the capabilities and resources to validate your solution more strongly than the market has already validated the commercial solution?

Unless you are Anakin Skywalker, DIY is not always a winning strategy

Through my 15 years of experience in materials research and development in the tire and rubber industry, I have seen several pieces of home-built testing equipment collecting dust within companies. Either they were half finished and abandoned or could only be reliably operated by the creator who moved to another department or company.

There can be circumstances where the needed instrument or simulation product is not commercially available. Sometimes the capability exists in the marketplace, but it is not discovered because the maker mindset leads to a halfhearted search. For customized solutions, you may consider working with a vendor to leverage their expertise in creating the required device or program.

If your analysis and testing needs are in the rubber fatigue and lifetime area, please talk to us before you decide to invest in creating your own solutions. Our solutions embody decades of experience. They are the most competitive and strongly validated solutions you can buy. Endurica has specialized finite element analysis software that predicts elastomer durability for complex geometries and loads, and we offer testing instruments for accurately characterizing the fracture mechanics of elastomers through our partnership with Coesfeld GmbH & Co. KG. We can take you quickly to the forefront of fatigue management capabilities.

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Durability Simulation and the Value of Product Development Resources

Durability Simulation | Endurica

What value does your company gain by deploying product development resources one way vs. another when it comes to durability?

R&D organizations are built around what it takes to get the product into production.  The costs of the organization include wages for the engineers and technicians, the costs of the capital equipment used in development and testing, and the overhead from administrative functions.  These are all fixed costs, and in the rubber industry it is typical to see R&D budgets that amount to somewhere between 1% and 5% of sales.

The R&D program lifecycle is iterative.  It goes something like this: design, build, test, qualify for production, launch product.  A quick way to understand product development costs is to look at how long it takes for one design-build-test-launch iteration.  If it takes your tech center one year per iteration, then the cost of one pass through the cycle is something like (company annual sales) x (R&D rate per annual sales)/(number of parallel development programs executing at a given time in your tech center).  For a $2B company with a 2.5% research budget and 10 development programs in the works, this works out to $5M/iteration.

An overview of cost distribution using the build and break method

How much of this cost is burned on durability issues?  Potentially all of it, at least within any one given iteration.  At worst, a non-qualifying test result leads to a “back to the drawing board” restart of the iteration.  The durability tests required for qualification can only be made after the prototype is in hand, so a restart means the whole team ends up revisiting and reproducing to correct a failed iteration.  Over the long run, if your iteration failure rate is 1 in 5 iterations (20%), that means you are burning $5M x 20% = $1M per product.

How much of this cost can realistically be avoided?  The big opportunity lies in the fact that the old “build and break” paradigm does not immediately hold accountable design decisions that lead to poor durability, and it does not have enough band-width to allow for much optimization.  A “build and break” only plan is a plan for business failure.  Poor decisions are only tested and caught after big investments in the iteration have all become sunk costs.  The advent of simulation has fueled a new “right the first time” movement that empowers the engineer to very rapidly investigate and understand how alternative materials, alternative geometries, or alternative duty cycles impact durability.  The number of alternatives that can be evaluated and optimized by an analyst before committing other resources is many times greater.  “Right the first time” via simulation is a model that is increasingly favored by OEMs and suppliers because it works.  Expect to halve your iteration failure rate.twitterlinkedinmail

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