Trailer hitches—those devices that attach to the back of your vehicle for towing—seem more or less functional and straightforward. But if you’ve ever bruised your leg on a tow ball while trying to pull luggage out of your trunk or punched a hole in the garage door with one of those little battering rams, you know they could be much better.
Automakers aren’t fond of the traditional tow hitch either. The appendage is ugly, quickly destroying the “less-is-more” aesthetic of their beautifully curvy new cars and trucks.
Tow ball hitch (Source: Wikipedia)
Building a Better Tow Hitch
European towbar maker Brink doesn’t take all these complaints personally. Rather, the company sees them and other issues as a design challenge. In fact, it recently invested 50 man years to engineer a better hitch.
In addition to solving the towbar-to-the-shin and towbar-to-the-garage-door problems, the Brink team collaborated with major car makers to come up with a more attractive design that mechanics could easily install. At the same time, they made sure their new design could adapt to car models that haven’t been invented yet (about 100 new models are released each year). And, as always, the company wanted the new design to exceed European legal and safety requirements.
What did all this effort lead to? The retractable towbar.
When not in use, the device is completely out of sight and concealed by the vehicle’s bumper. It doesn’t detract from the vehicle’s appearance or get in the way. When the consumer wants to use it, however, the tow bar easily drops down and moves into a towing position. Watch the video to see how it works in real life:
Simulation Pays Off
As you might guess, all these design requirements demand significant effort when developing new products. Streamlining product development and testing, without compromising quality, is crucial.
Brink has a testing center for physical prototypes. But physical testing costs can escalate quickly. So Brink also started identifying potential problems before physical testing with Creo Simulate.
Creo Simulate, an extension of Creo, gives designers and engineers the power to evaluate structural and thermal product performance on digital models early in the development process.
“With this software package, we can fulfill the tough requirements of the worldwide automotive industry even better,” says Arnoud Margadant, manager of research and innovation at Brink.
And indeed, the company’s investment in Creo Simulate is paying off. Brink now reports a 35% decrease in physical testing efforts. Costs have gone down, and the company has more resources to invest in better.
“We are well prepared to meet future, challenging goals,” says Margadant.
PTC offers a variety of simulation tools to meet almost every analysis need. To learn more, explore PTC simulation solutions.