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Background Black & Decker had reached an advanced stage in the development of an innovative new type of saw. The design of the Scorpion had passed all the durability tests that showed it was capable of performing well for long periods on the wood and metal cutting tasks for which it was designed. However, one important “no-load” test was consistently throwing up a problem, which was preventing the product being released to an expectant market.

Challenge SA’s task was to examine the components that had failed on test and find out why they had done so - and what to do about it. We had to bear in mind that all parts were production-tooled and changes were going to be expensive. We also had to take into consideration that a large financial investment had been made and the market was expecting the product.

Solution A forensic examination of new parts, part-worn parts and failed parts gave us some clues as to what was going on.

A full 3D solid model of the gearbox assembly was reverse-engineered from the actual components and imported into a motion simulation package (Cosmos Motion). A large number of simulated motion runs were performed. The first series validated that the computer model was able to predict high stresses in the areas that were wearing out on the actual test. The second extensive series of runs explored how design changes to the components affected the predicted outcome.

Deliverables A huge number of design options were explored in minute detail without changing any of the expensive production tooling - and in a very short time-frame. The least disruptive and most effective option was offered to Black & Decker on the basis of the simulation results. Clear and concise presentations were made to the management.

Results Management decisions were made in the knowledge that there was a very high chance that the solution would work and that it was the most cost-effective and fastest route to market.

The Scorpion saw was successfully launched onto the market without the worry that in-service failures would cut into customer good-will.