Project and Challenges
Rotalec was engaged to provide a customized, innovative solution that would outperform humans in testing hockey sticks.
A hockey stick manufacturer was testing the durability and reliability of their sticks using humans to perform slap shots repeatedly. Hundreds of slap shots must be completed to bring a single hockey stick to the breaking point necessary to gather data on its quality.
This approach presents the following challenges:
- Limited Volume of Tests:
Performing slap shots continuously induces fatigue in the human participant. Human testers become tired, slow down, and can no longer continue to test hockey sticks with ongoing high quality slap shots.
- Imperfect Repeatability:
Human testers cannot perfectly maintain all critical parameters during each slap shot performed, introducing uncontrollable irregularities in the testing process (e.g. speed, hand placement, etc.).
- Lack of Precise Measurability:
With humans carrying out the slap shot tests, it is difficult to measure any factor with precision (e.g. force at which the stick hits the ice on each shot).
Rotalec developed a unique slap shot robot to perform testing on the hockey sticks.
We created a reliable robot that simulated a human holding the hockey stick to conduct slap shot testing.
Rotating Robot Design
We designed a rotating robot with two points of contact on the hockey stick to imitate a human slap shot. The two anchors simulate human hands on the stick, ensuring the stick behaves as it would in the field (e.g. bending).
The robot could be set with repeatable, precise parameters, such as speed, attack angle, the locations of the “hands” on the stick, and so on.
In order to effectively rotate the stick with strength needed to perform a slap shot, the machine required a powerful motor that could withstand the force of the stick hitting the ice during each test.
Through many trials with various motors, we developed a solution using a Kollmorgen servomotor and a special coupling with the drive to ensure repeatability.
We integrated an HMI SCADA system with the slap shot robot, which recorded critical data from each slap shot and performed analysis.
As we refine and improve this system, the HMI will be able to predict and react when the hockey stick breaks. Even a small crack in the hockey stick will be perceived and recorded.
Automatic Puck Dispenser
To automate the entire process, we provided an automatic puck dispenser to deliver the puck to the slap shot robot before each shot.
The client is able to accurately test new hockey stick designs as they develop the next generation of durable blades.
Key Benefits of the Technology:
- Highly repeatable testing, ensuring the same precise conditions for each slap shot.
- Increased efficiency by enabling a much higher volume of slap shots per day.
- High degree of control over adjustable parameters.
- Precise measurements to determine when the sticks began to weaken.
- Analysis of data allows for more insight in hockey stick development projects.
- Fully automated process through combination of robot, automatic puck dispenser, and HMI.
Talk to the Experts
Contact us to discuss your specific automation, sensor, or control needs, or to place an order.