RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT - PRC

Summary of the design and manufacture of Rába PRC from the beginning to the end

Creating the concept of the Protected Rear Compartment (PRC), making the drawings, working out the details of the manufacturing process, the frequent quality checks, the writing of the necessary documentation and last but not least manufacturing the prototype and the “0” series vehicles have meant new challenges to the experts of Rába Vehicle Ltd. in the years 2011-2012.

After having formulated the requirements works have been started parallel on two main fields. The raw material research and development team for transparent and opaque armouring has conducted tests against ballistic and blast threats at the Táborfalva Ballistic Testing and Experimenting Facility according to the NATO STANAG 4569 standard. The key to the ballistic protection system of the PRC is the multilayer laminated panels. Designing of the panels was partly based on industrial standard procedures, while a great deal of new ideas has been applied as well. The panels had to undergo ballistic and so called Fragment Simulation Projectile (FSP) tests. With the help of multi hit testing as prescribed by the NATO standard, it was possible to analyze and prove the ballistic- and fragment resistance of the panels as well as that of the glass windows. Then a series of blast tests followed to examine the structural solutions and the structural layout of the PRC. The tests have also been conducted at the Táborfalva Ballistic Testing and Experimenting Facility.

With the special knowledge on the field of materials science and regarding structural layout, acquired by the research and development team, the development engineers started working on the main plans and drawings of the PRC and with time on its detailed design. The complex drawings and documentation needed for the manufacturing process have been created using the benefits of Computer Aided Design (CAD). The so called FEM (Finite Element Method) was used to aid the work of the design department engineers. In order to get to know the effect of an explosion (mine, IED) on the structure, a Finite Element Analysis has been conducted for certain elements and later for the entire PRC in close cooperation with leading teachers and talented students from the Széchenyi István University in Győr. Rába has set these simulations as a preliminary requirement before starting real life explosion tests.

It was a key issue from beginning that new technologies should be adopted and new production equipment should be designed or imported from abroad to complete the PRC. This was the phase in the design process when it became clear that a special gluing table is required for making steel and ceramic protective panels, when we decided for a complex turning equipment that can rotate the PRC in 360 degrees around its longitudinal axis and the need arose for an automated welding robot to produce the length welding seam. These equipments were designed by an external engineering firm, however manufactured by Rába.

To organize and lead the manufacturing processes of the PRC itself was also a complex task for the engineering workforce of Rába. The company aimed for making two prototype PRCs which was in line with the goals set force by the tender of the Operational Program for Economic Development (GOP in Hungarian). The second prototype was made for the certified testing according to the already mentioned NATO standard STANAG 4569 and AEP 55 Allied Engineering Publication. The certified tests have been conducted at an institution – IABG mbH – well-known in international circles. The PRC achieved outstanding results, which took shape in certificates.

Regarding the PRC it is not only Rába that needs to meet high expectations; also the suppliers have to meet high quality standards. As the protection of human life is the most important, only parts and raw materials with appropriate certification can be used to build the Protected Rear Compartment.