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Optimizing the design of an Ice Tank Carriage

Problem Statement:
To improvise the model of an ice tank carriage to improve the backlash present in the design of the gearbox.

Overview of the Ice tank:

Due to the design constraints, ships cannot cruise through ice-covered waters such as those existing in the Arctic. Steering through ice-covered waters requires a distinct design of ship frequently known as an icebreaker. An icebreaker normally moves at speeds ranging from 0.002 m/s to 4.0 m/s.

Before an icebreaker is built, the design of each of these three features is meticulously tested and improved in an ice tank which consists of a refrigerated water basin. It provides a physical modeling setting to measure the vehicle dynamics of ship's exterior as it is drawn through a layer of ice. The scale model is pulled along the ice tank via a suspended gantry mechanism, which is driven by an electric motor and gearbox assembly.

Challenges Encountered:

Problems intrinsic in the design of the ice tank could possibly change the reliability of any test results that are attained.

The free body diagram of the system was converted to a physical model using specialized software and this model was simulated using two different parameter sets.

The controller. Model created using the software From the simulation results. FBD of the icebreaker system The first parameter set simulated the model without disturbances from breaking the ice. in an attempt to correct for the backlash. would cause the speed of the model ship to overshoot and then undershoot and progressively increase in magnitude to a point that would ultimately damage the equipment. After examining the problem. the speed of the model ship became unstable and began oscillating. . it was established that the force generated by the ship’s hull when breaking ice would create backlash between the gear teeth driving the gantry carriage.i. ii. while the second set included the effects of breaking the ice. This was done to test the validity and accuracy of the model so that it can be eventually applied in reality. it was observed that when the gantry carriage was operating at low speeds.

and that the speed of the gantry carriage stabilized to a desired speed. it also amplified the voltage supplied to the DC motor to a level that was considerably greater than the rating of the motor. Although increasing the gain reduced the chatter between the gear teeth. Determining the amount of "applied torque" needed to stabilize the speed of the gantry carriage was accomplished using the trial and error. . Thus. by adding an ‘applied torque’ block to the physical model as depicted above. it was possible to model the effects of a preload torque. This forces the gear teeth to remain in contact all the time. It could be seen that the gear torque no longer showed signs of chatter. There is an efficient method to remove gear backlash by applying a preload torque to the gearbox. One of the approaches was to increase the proportional gain of the PID controller.Formulation of a Solution: Various methods were deliberated upon to eliminate the induced speed oscillations in the gantry carriage.