Non Linear Analysis of Farm Tractor Front axle using ABAQUS CAE

By Dinesh Redkar Mahindra & Mahindra ltd Tractor division Guided by Dr Sajan Pawar, Dr Prakash Kamath, Mr Rajesh Upadhyay
Farm tractor is an off road vehicle which is used as a portable machine to do various useful work such as farming, haulage, transportation, heavy earthmoving etc. Tractor consists of front axle which is a dead axle and supports the whole body on the front. It is one of the safety component. Currently an on going new project has come up with a serious problem of Front axle bending during trolley transport (Haulage). Axle bending was attributed due to some form of resistance to the frontal movement of tractor during motion and the trolley payload is acting against this frontal resistance. This Non Linear behavior of axle was simulated in Abaqus CAE. Non Linearity was simulated by putting the material non linearity data in the material stress strain curve. Based on the analysis load was derived to obtain the same deflection magnitude as observed in the field. To confirm this load a physical test was done in Test Lab on physical axle. Modifications are done on the FE model in Abaqus CAE and the modified model is subjected to same loading and boundary conditions. The output graph of load verses deflection of both failed and modified axle is compared against the Lab Test results. Compared results gave a fair correlation between the FE analysis through ABAQUS and the Physical Test. Thus giving confidence in implementing the Modified design.

Agricultural Tractor is one of the main example for off-road vehicles category. Off-road condition includes uneven agricultural field surfaces and bumpy village roads on which the tractor has to operate. These ground irregularities leads to unexpected loads coming on the Tractor components. The primary purpose of tractor is to have mobile machinery to generate pull also known as drawbar pull. This drawbar pull is utilized to do various operations like ploughing, haulage, cultivation etc. Besides this basic operation Tractor is used for applications like loader, dozer, rotavation, drilling etc. To generate this drawbar pull tractor needs two things, 1. Engine power and 2. Traction through rear wheel. This is achieved through high speed reduction, big rear wheels and heavy rear reaction. Front Axle is the main load-carrying member of Tractor and supporting member for Front wheels. It is fitted below the Front Axle support. Front Axle takes the load coming from the front wheels and transfers it to the support.

Front Axle consist of following parts as shown in fig. 1, 1. Front Axle 2. Pivot Pin 3. Front Axle support 4. Knuckle 7. Wheel Hub.


Front Axle

Wheel end

Axle Pivot Point


The Front axle is like a simply supported beam member with the partial tractor weight acting in the centre and

ends being subjected to ground reactions through the front wheel.

through Job manager. Job manager gives the flexibility of prior data check before submitting the actual job .This helps in avoiding the unnecessary solving time for large runs.

Currently one of the Low H.P Tractor being developed in the Mahindra Tractor has come across severe failure in testing stage during Haulage operation. Haulage operation includes transportation of heavily loaded single axle trolley from one place to another using this tractor. Failure was reported in form of front Axle bending as shown in fig.2. Also it was reported that there is no impact load experienced during the entire haulage operation.

The load was iterated to arrive at the final load needed to achieve the permanent deformation of 15mm. It was found that a load of 3.4 ton was required to have deformation of 14.5 mm as shown in fig.4. A load deflection curve was plotted in ABAQUS CAE visualization module.

Actual Bending Failure

There was permanent deformation observed of about 14-16mm along the longitudinal axis of tractor. This failure clearly indicates that plasticity effect was involved. Thus the task was to simulate the failure and suggest suitable modifications.

Generally Front Axle is designed below the yield limit of the material. The worst frontal load experienced by any Front axle is not more than 0.5g of the total tractor weight plus the trolley load it carries. However static analysis done with this load gave stresses and deformation much below the yield. Thus the primary constraint was to find out the load responsible to cause the displacement of 15 mm. Deformation – 14.5mm

To verify whether the load arrived through ABAQUS was right enough to be considered for modification, an experimental analysis was done in Test lab as shown in fig.5. A set up was made such that Front Axle was kept simple supported on two ends and load was given via actuator in steps of 100 kgf till we reached the deformation level of 15 mm.

USE OF ABAQUS CAE : Abaqus a well know software for Non linear simulation was considered to simulate this failure. FE model was built in ABAQUS CAE which has very interactive and structured GUI right from part generation to meshing and loading. Accordingly stress strain data was obtained for the material under consideration which is fe410 as shown in fig.3.This true stress strain data can be very easily fed in to ABAQUS CAE material definition form which requires separate elastic and plastic data. Loading and boundary conditions were given in ABAQUS CAE and solve given

Deformation of Front Axle was monitored as each load step and load deflection graph was made comparative graph of ABAQUS and Test is shown in fig.5. 6 mm thick plate 6 mm thick rib provided on rear side of front axle

The results of these modifications were as shown in fig.7& 8

Test results showed that 3.2 ton load gave deformation of about 14.5 mm which was fairly comparable with ABAQUS results. However to be on conservative side load of 3.4 ton was considered for further analysis. Deflection – 2.1mm


Now once the load was finalized through above correlation next step was to suggest workable solution for the given problem. This was done by iterating few design modifications and subjecting it to same load. First modification was to have one rib of 6 mm in the horizontal plane supported by one 6mm vertical welded plate and second was to have results with only ribs and no vertical welded plates. As shown in fig.6 Deflection – 2.6mm

Similarly the load deflection curve was plotted as shown in fig.9 .The deflection was found to be 2.1 mm for modification with both ribs and plate and 2.6 mm for only rib modification. Also the curve shows that deflection was still within elastic region with no permanent deformation

fig. 10& 11. Maximum deflection was found to be 1.1 mm

Based on the above analysis it is seen that there is good correlation of virtual simulation with the actual test .Thus ABAQUS can very well be used to tackle non linearity and can further be confidently applied to many such non linear problems without need of any experimental correlation. Also ABAQUS CAE has a user friendly GUI for both pre and post processing and dependencies on using other pre and post processing software can be easily avoided.


The above work is an original project of M&M tractor division and ABAQUS Nonlinear documentation was sufficient to carry out the above analysis.

Author would like to acknowledge the support of ABAQUS support team and especially Mr Raghavendra Banchhor for their kind and prompt support.

To have final correlation the final suggested design was tested in lab and load curve established as shown in .

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