Over the past five years caravan manufacturers have dramatically changed their approach to the design, construction and manufacture of their products. What was a very traditional cottage industry has now become a hi-tech and extremely competitive sector driven by lean manufacturing processes. This investment into new technologies has led to the development of a product that now offers improved build quality, enhanced structural rigidity, reduced water ingress and improved thermal insulation. The majority of investment over this period has been into the body shell of the caravan and despite the advances in the development of the sides and roof panels, the caravan floor, chassis and suspension are still constructed using materials and components that have altered little in the last thirty years. It is believed that the current chassis and suspension system is inadequate in terms of isolation from road imperfections, structural performance, weight, weather proofing and cost. It was the intention of this project to investigate how this substructure could be redesigned to match the performance characteristics of the rest of the caravan. This thesis outlines the investigation and product development process and proposes a new design for a lightweight caravan chassis and suspension system that provides improved chassis isolation from the road in a package that is 150kg lighter, of comparable stiffness and manufacturing cost.
|Date of Award||31 Dec 2013|
|Supervisor||Jos Darling (Supervisor)|