Case Study: Fluid Mechanics

This case study has several interesting aspects, including a complete redesign of a faulty test system delivered by another vendor, a hybrid of hydraulics and pneumatics, extremely complex control-theory challenges, and most importantly, a dramatic drop in test times.


Of four tests required, three of them involved forces up to 4,000 pounds, and one of them required smaller forces but controlled within a 0.6-pound range.

The test system supplied by another vendor used only a single 10,000-pound range hydraulic.

The result was a system that averaged over half an hour per test and failed about half the time.

The client needed on-site support several times per month to coax the system into working.


Strong expertise in many fields, including:

            Fluid mechanics


            Control theory

            Software engineering

A strategic partner providing extremely high-quality metal machining

A strong relationship of mutual trust with the client


We redesigned the test rig to insert a pneumatic cylinder and a high-precision load cell.

Those were encased in a steel cage to protect them from the high forces for other tests.

We rewrote the software to support complex interactions of motor, hydraulics, and pneumatics.

The rewrite also significantly increased robustness, ease of support, reliability, and ease of use.


Can now reliably control force to within 0.1 pounds; six times better than required.

The entire test suite now runs in under five minutes.

The success rate increased to near 100%.

Overall throughput increased to fifteen times the previous rate.

Maintenance dropped to once a year (2% of the previous level).

Redesign investment captured back within months.

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