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By Martin Gambling, GRM Consulting

26 May 11. With the increasing challenges faced by military vehicles in theatres of operation and the subsequent effect on personnel, understanding the exact duration and severity of a blast loading can vastly improve survivability. Using the expertise of an international electronics manufacturer and those of a talented safety engineering consultancy, this engineering team have been able to deliver to the MOD blast event monitoring capabilities and rapid injury interpretation.
As a well-known manufacturer of electronics, Cosworth Ltd is currently expanding its activities with the MOD and is in the process of delivering a series of contracts to help reduce costs and improve safety on the front line. With a long established background in the use of accident data recorders in motorsport, confidence was high that similar technology could be used to improve the safety of UK armed forces vehicles in combat.

GRM Consulting worked in partnership with Cosworth Ltd, delivering industry leading simulation of blast events and vehicle structural response. GRM have a proven track record in the delivery of detailed structural simulation and in understanding the relationship between a computer model and a real-world event. For Cosworth Ltd, defining the location of instrumentation and supporting the development of blast exposure limits for vehicles were key requirements.

The initial contract was to identify the potential for using electronics from motorsport to provide accident data recording and blast event monitoring capabilities. With the implementation of such technology, it will be possible to immediately rate casualties for medical attention, log a vehicle’s exposure to blast events and allow post-event analysis for structural development.

The major challenges for GRM were in modelling the blast event, the structural response and repeating this for a large amount of scenarios. The prototype cost and test range time associated with investigating the likely blast locations would have made the project cost prohibitive. However, by engaging GRM’s structural simulation experts, Cosworth were able to make a significant reduction in programme timescale. Using test data from Creation UK’s Zephyr vehicle, which incorporates a composite occupant survival cell and a V-form belly plate with integral blast mitigation, simulation models were calibrated by GRM to a very high degree. These models allowed very quick investigation of multiple blast locations. GRM worked from sub-system model calibration up to full vehicle models in a very short period of time, giving Cosworth and the MOD a high level of confidence in the results.

GRM’s Engineering Manager Oliver Tomlin notes “The number of blast scenarios which we were required to analyse and understand would have been unheard of about 4 years ago. Understanding the blast event, the soil conditions and the interaction with the structure are key elements of blast simulation. Recent advances in software and hardware now allow us to investigate large numbers of blast input conditions and to quickly interpret these results into personnel injury”.

The soil conditions in any blast test can easily affect the outcome and are closely controlled by the test range. GRM were able to use their optimisation capabilities to calibrate soil models quickly. Expertise gained from the civil engineering sector ensured that the model of the soil was representative and that the calibration parameters were based on real effects.

From blast test panels through to full vehicle STANAG level testing, GRM demonstrated outstanding predictive capabilities in the correlation to vehicle integrity and occupant injury. Through the implementation by GRM of advanced structural analysis techniques for blast simulation, Cosworth were able to understand in detail the results of the blast tests. This enable

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