Capstone 2022: All-Terrain Intermediate Frame Transport and Storage System

EnviroTREC supported a University of Manitoba – Mech 4680 Engineering Design project for 2022. The design challenge given to students this year was to improve the transport and storage system for two differently sized Intermediate Frames.

Intermediate Frames are used as the interface to the thrust frame (i.e. Test Stand) during testing at the GLACIER Facility near Thompson, Manitoba. The thrust frame holds the test engine as well as housing the instrumentation necessary for the testing.

Figure 1: Photo of the JML Consulting Group Design Team 8, 2022

Source: Envirotrec

Photo: Student Team comprised Jayjay Maranan, Mercy Onwuteaka and Leo Cruz. Kim Olson at the far right is the Executive Director EnviroTREC (photo taken Dec 8, 2022, at the student presentations)

Intermediate Frames – Problem Statement

The challenge with Intermediate Frames is that two vastly different-sized engines are mounted to it at various times. Additionally, while one gas turbine engine is being tested, another is being prepped for testing. This ties up some critical assets, and the Intermediate Frame becomes a bottleneck in the testing cycle. 

 A photo which generally describes the Intermediate Frame’s function is shown in the following Figure 2.

Figure 2. Intermediate Frame and Thrust Frame connected to a gas turbine engine – On Stand

Source: Envirotrec

The current transport of the Intermediate Frames relies on a large Transport Cart, which poses several issues due to its size, the complexity of the operation, and the time consumed during its deployment.

The Transport Cart (TC) is a custom-made transportation vehicle that is towed by a loader. The TC can be described as a large exoskeleton with wheels with mounting points to mount the Intermediate Frame. Figure 3 shows the Transport Cart under tow by a loader with no load.

Figure 3  Transport Cart under tow, no load

Source: Envirotrec

Currently, an Intermediate Frame (IF) can only be transported using a TC, irrespective of the IF having an engine attached. This is an inefficient system when only the IF has to be transported, as the TC is large and requires complex pre-checks when used, as it is integral to the GLACIER site and commonly is coupled with a Gas Turbine.

While the prep shop is quite large, it can be a tight space for critical activities such as the reception of engine deliveries and actions required to prepare the engine for the test. Many people will be working in the prep shop at these times, each requiring space for their workstations and tool kits. The IF storage system also poses storage challenges as it can, at this time, only be stored or parked in the prep shop, which takes up valuable space when engines are being prepped.

Proposed Solution:

The proposed solution is a pneumatic wheeled cart with a cover (Figure 4), allowing the cart and frame to be stored outside the Prep Shop. Additionally, the cart uses bevel and worm gears to open and close the cart for storage or deployment. Steering and related linkages are also tied into a tow bar.

Figure 4. Proposed Solution Intermediate Frame independently underway

Source: Project Team Notes

Figure 4 also demonstrates the relative scale of the IF cart to the scheme of things, as the IF is capable of holding two very different-sized Gas Turbine engines.

Figure 5 shows the IF Cart in the open extended position. Note the scale of the IF Cart when compared to a front-end loader.

Figure 5: Intermediate Frame Cart in Extended Position

Source: Project Team Notes

The students presented their project to sponsors, students and faculty on Dec 8, 2022, and now it’s off to study time for the first term exams! We wish them the best of success in their studies and thank them for their contribution to our program.