Cost-effective shock testing

A UNIQUE Auckland facility is providing military shock testing of lightweight custom-built and commercial off-the-shelf equipment and systems for the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Shipboard equipment and systems must be able to withstand shocks produced by either nuclear or conventional weapons during wartime service. To ensure that safety and combat capability is not compromised, equipment used by or supplied to the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) must meet stringent military shock resistance criteria.
The shock testing facility at Industrial Research Limited (IRL) is unique in the southern hemisphere and offers the most competitive value in the world at its premises in Auckland, says IRL Defence Testing manager, Clive Stirling.
“We are providing a cost-effective service for military suppliers not only here in New Zealand but also internationally. Lightweight shock testing has previously proven to be a costly business – sometimes the difference between the cost of a tested item and an untested item was over half a million dollars, with a typical cost to have a small item tested offshore being around NZ$80,000.
“However, failure to provide tested items can also adversely affect suppliers’ chances of successfully concluding a sale, so testing has always been considered a necessary part of the process.”
Originally built for verifying equipment designed and manufactured by New Zealand suppliers to the ANZAC Frigate project in the 1990s, the IRL shock testing machine has a strong track record of success. Its MIL-STD-901D lightweight high impact shock testing machine can evaluate the ability of both commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and custom-built equipment weighing up to 150kg to resist shock loading in three axes.
Over the past four years a wide range of COTS equipment and systems as well as some custom-built items have been shock tested for the RNZN and its New Zealand suppliers. Examples of COTS items tested by IRL include computers, LCD screens, media converters and pedestal chairs – with custom-built equipment including communications equipment cabinets and emergency escape breathing apparatus stowage racks.
IRL's testing programmes can highlight weaknesses in equipment design and mounting arrangements, and in most cases allow modifications to be made that meet acceptance criteria. IRL also provides a comprehensive test report based on the requirements of the military standard and in accordance with the protocol established for the ANZAC Frigate project.
To further reduce testing costs, IRL can offer a pre-qualification shock test that will allow a potential supplier to determine if their equipment has any inherent weaknesses in its design before offering the final product/design to RNZN for full MIL-S-901D certification.
“The cost of pre-qualification testing would be estimated on a case-by-case basis,” says Stirling, “but it could be at least half the cost of a full test performed to MIL-S-901D and the ANZAC Frigate Project protocol.”
Commander Dave Fairweather of the Royal New Zealand Navy says that the IRL shock testing facility is providing excellent value for money.
“Thanks to IRL’s expertise the RNZN can purchase locally manufactured or supplied equipment that has been MIL-Spec shock certified not only at a lower cost but also in the knowledge that the combat/mission capability of our ships will not be compromised.”

Enquiries: Clive Stirling.
Senior Research Scientist and Defence Testing Manager,
Engineering and Applied Physics Group,
Industrial Research Limited,
PO Box 2225
Ph: Direct (09) 920 3682
Fax: (09) 307 0618




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