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CROPS (COMPACT ROLL OVER PROTECTIVE STRUCTURE) 1. Organisations involved Azienda Agricola Casale is a farm located

CROPS (COMPACT ROLL OVER PROTECTIVE STRUCTURE)

  • 1. Organisations involved

Azienda Agricola Casale is a farm located in the countryside of Viterbo (Italy), with 10 hectares of hazelnut trees.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention (ISPESL)

  • 2. Description of the case

    • 2.1. Introduction

The Directives 77/536/CEE, 79/622/CEE, 86/298/CEE and 87/402/CEE, set out methodologies, according to tractor type, for the testing of frame and cabin rollover protection. The basic principle is that rollover equipment guarantees an adequate safety volume around the driver’s seat in the case of a roll over. The overall vertical dimensions of these structures can prevent the use of tractors under trees or in greenhouses and therefore foldable roll over bars are often installed. However, according to the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC , Annex 1 (Essential

health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of machinery) point 1.1.2 Letter C,

when designing and constructing machinery, the manufacturer or their authorised representative must envisage not only the intended use of the machinery but also any reasonably foreseeable misuse thereof. Foldable Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS) on tractors do not comply with this safety requirement. In fact, the use of tractors with the foldable ROPS not in the safe position, during various working operations, is a foreseeable and quite common misuse.

  • 2.2. Aims

The aim was to implement an innovative safety device, Compact Roll Over Protective Structure, (CROPS) able to reduce the risks related to the foreseeable misuse of the traditional, foldable safety device to improve protection for workers in the case of incidents where the tractor rolls over.

2.3. What was done, and how?

After a roll over incident involving a tractor equipped with a front mounted foldable ROPS, which was not in the safe position, the Azienda Agricola Casale decided to install a Compact Roll Over Protective Structure (CROPS) on one of its narrow track wheeled tractors for working under trees or in greenhouses in a safe manner. The CROPS was designed by the Safety and Technology Department of ISPESL (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention) (Italy) for narrow track wheeled agricultural tractors in order to avoid the misuse of foldable ROPS and to allow safe working under trees or in greenhouses. The CROPS installed in this case study was built at the NUNZI s.r.l. factory in Caprarola.

Safety level investigation

Before designing the CROPS, a preliminary safety level investigation on the existing two-post front mounted ROPS was carried out. Since it is possible to equip narrow-track wheeled

tractors both with a rear two-post ROPS, as defined in OECD code 7

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, or with a front two-post

one, as defined in OECD code 6 2 , a comparison of these two kinds of protective structure was

undertaken. The main difference concerns the shape and the dimensions of the operator

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clearance zones protected by each structure. This peculiarity is also reported in the field of application

clearance zones protected by each structure. This peculiarity is also reported in the field of application of OECD code 6 which, at point 2.1.4, specifies that it refers to tractors “being fitted with roll-over protective structures of the dual-pillar type mounted in front of the driver’s seat and characterised by a reduced clearance zone attributable to the tractor silhouette, thus rendering it inadvisable, under any circumstances, to impede access to the driving position but worthwhile retaining these structures (fold-down or not) in view of their undoubted ease of use”. In Figure 1, these two clearance zones are shown.

Figure 1: Comparison between operator clearance zones as defined in OECD code 6 (A) and in OECD code 7 (B)

A B
A
B

Figure 1 shows that, the clearance zone preserved by a two-post front mounted structure has a completely different shape, which is formed in such a way that the operator is only in a safe position if they lean forward against the steering wheel whilst the tractor is rolling over. In fact, the simulated ground plane, which is represented by a straight line from the top of the front ROPS to the top of the rear hard fixture in Figure 2, does not intersect the operator clearance zone only when shaped in this manner (see Figure 2 (B)). When the clearance zone defined in OECD code 7 is considered, the same front ROPS does not ensure protection in the case of a roll-over (see Figure 2 (A)), unless significantly increasing the height of the front roll-bar or of the rear hard fixture. Thus, it seems that the safety level guaranteed by this kind of protective structure is quite poor. This is also confirmed by recent tractor rollover accidents, which have resulted in fatalities, despite the tractors being fitted with foldable front mounted ROPS that were in the safe position at the time of the accident. Moreover, another issue related to this kind of protective structure concerns the possibility of folding them down.

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Figure 2: Simulated ground plane protection ensured by a two post front mounted ROPS with reference

Figure 2: Simulated ground plane protection ensured by a two post front mounted ROPS with reference to OECD code 6 operator clearance zone (A) and OECD code 7 operator clearance zone (B)

A B
A
B

In many cases, the folding operation is achieved by simply removing a pin by hand without the use of any specific tool. The ease of this operation can lead to the ROPS being folded even during field operations, completely by-passing a fundamental safety device. Finally, the last concern with respect to front mounted ROPS refers to its application on articulated tractors. The possibility to rotate about a central pivoting axis of a tractor’s mainframe significantly reduces the already poor safety zone provided by these protective structures. In fact, in the case of rolling over or tilting of the tractor, the independent rotation of the rear part of the tractor’s mainframe, where the operator is seated, with respect to the front one where the ROPS is fitted, could laterally expose the operator to an impact with the ground.

Compact roll-over protective structure design

With the aforementioned limitations of ROPS in mind, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention (ISPESL) designed an innovative Compact Roll-Over Protective Structure (CROPS) to be fitted on narrow-track wheeled tractors. This structure is a four post rigid frame made of circular steel tubes with a smooth longitudinal profile, shaped in such a way to allow the tractor to be used beneath trees, whilst also preserving the OECD code 7 operator clearance zone. The design criteria were to produce a non-foldable protective structure, which would always preserve the safe zone defined in OECD code 7, whilst also minimising the overall height of the tractor, and therefore allowing it to work under trees or in greenhouses, and avoiding the misuse of foldable ROPS. The CROPS design can be summarized in the following steps:

  • 1. reverse engineering of tractor and virtual prototyping of the CROPS;

  • 2. finite element analysis (FEA) of CROPS according to OECD code 7;

  • 3. shape and dimensions’ optimization.

Reverse engineering and virtual prototyping

It was, first of all, necessary to reverse engineer the tractor in order to virtually reproduce the

position and the relative disposition of the anchorage points suitable for the CROPS. This also allowed the OECD code 7 operator clearance zone to be superimposed onto the tractor to ensure that the protective structure did not interfere with its operation. In Figure 3, the virtual model of the tractor, actually fitted with a foldable front mounted protective structure, has been reproduced. Figure 3 (A) gives an overview and Figure 3 (B), shows the OECD code 6 operator clearance zone with a simulated ground plane related to the front mounted two-post ROPS. Note that the actual overall height of the tractor is 2370 mm from the ground.

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Figure 3: Tractor reverse engineering A B In Figure 4 (A), the front attachment points for

Figure 3: Tractor reverse engineering

A B
A
B

In Figure 4 (A), the front attachment points for CROPS are shown. In particular, they correspond to the bolts and pin joint of the foldable portion of the actual two-post protective structure. The CROPS rear mounting uses the same attachment points of the actual rear hard fixture (Figure 4 (B)).

Figure 4: Front (A) and rear (B) mountings

A B
A
B

According to ergonomic principles and safety requirements, a convex volume for CROPS has been designed. This volume has been obtained as an extrusion of a smooth profile in the middle longitudinal geometrical plain of the tractor (see Figure 5). Moreover, it has been compared to the OECD code 7 operator clearance zone in order to verify that this is completely included within it, as shown in Figure 5. Starting from the convex volume, the tentative shape of the CROPS was defined and a virtual prototype created, as shown in Figure 6. Thanks to its longitudinal smoothness, the CROPS appears more compact and suitable for work under trees or in greenhouses than the original straight two-post front mounted ROPS.

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Figure 5: The CROPS convex volume side (A) and back (B) views A B In any

Figure 5: The CROPS convex volume side (A) and back (B) views

A B
A
B

In any case, the main function of CROPS is to protect the operator clearance zone. Thus, its size, with respect to this first prototype, has been varied according to the results of structural simulations which lead to the optimization process.

Figure 6: The first virtual prototype of the CROPS

Figure 5: The CROPS convex volume side (A) and back (B) views A B In any

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Finite element analysis The first virtual CAD prototype of CROPS was meshed in order to perform

Finite element analysis

The first virtual CAD prototype of CROPS was meshed in order to perform the finite element analysis on it. The geometrical properties were modelled by means of plate elements of variable thickness. Since the OECD code 7 test procedure specifies that the plastic energy absorbed by the protective structure should be evaluated, it was necessary to mimic the plastic behaviour of the material and to represent the large deformations which the structure undergoes. For these reasons the Ramberg–Osgood equation has been used for reproducing the elasto-plastic features of steel. In figure 7 the FEA model has been reproduced. Mountings of the actual two-post ROPS, on which CROPS attaches (see Figure 4), have not been included in the model. In fact, they could be considered as significantly more rigid than the remainder of the structure. This allowed the number of elements in the model to be reduced and consequently the analysis process to be sped up.

Figure 7: The finite element model of the CROPS

Finite element analysis The first virtual CAD prototype of CROPS was meshed in order to perform

As the CROPS is connected to the front and rear mountings by means of threaded connections (see Figure 4), the constraints in the model are of a pinned type. Figure 7 shows how the pins were attached to the centre of each hole.

Table 1: Test procedure and acceptance criteria according to OECD code 7

 

TEST DESCRIPTION

Acceptance

ACCEPTANCE VALUE

criteria

1 st test

Loading at the rear of the structure

Energy

3.055 J

2 nd test

Rear crushing

Load

60.000 N

3 rd test

Loading at the front of the structure

Energy

2.000 J

4 th test

Loading at the side of the structure

Energy

5.250 J

5 th test

Crushing at the front

Load

60.000 N

Table 1 summarizes the compulsory requirements specified by OECD code 7 with respect to a tractor mass of 3000 kg.

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Figure 8: Contour diagram of Von Mises stress and deformations for the side load: first CROPS

Figure 8: Contour diagram of Von Mises stress and deformations for the side load: first CROPS version (A) and latest CROPS version (B)

A B
A
B

Figure 8 shows the result of the side load test for two different versions of CROPS. In Figure 8 (A), the first version is depicted while, in Figure 8 (B), the latest version is shown. The first version was fabricated out of S235 tubular steel with a 60 mm diameter, while the latest version, developed as a result of the optimization process (see following section), was made using S355 tubular steel, with a 40 mm diameter.

It is important to note that each load was applied in the sequence shown in Table 1 and that subsequent loads were applied following any deformations and stresses sustained during the application of the previous load(s) in the sequence. Once the required energy/load was reached, it was necessary to verify that this was significantly less than the breaking strength of the various structural elements and that no part of the CROPS, while deformed, lead to the infringement of the operator clearance zone or to its invasion by the simulated ground plane. For both side loads depicted in Figure 8, the maximum stress recovered was significantly lower than the material’s breaking strength value, and the operator clearance zone was always protected.

Optimization

Different aspects were involved in the optimization process of the CROPS:

enhancement of mechanical strength for the critical points of the structure;

reduction of tractor overall height;

reduction of CROPS width;

simplification and retrenchment of the production phase;

use of structural members with reduced cross section to streamline the structure.

Each of the cited aspects led to a new version of CROPS for which it was necessary to carry out a new design and finite element analysis, as previously described. The CROPS final version was deemed the best compromise between structural and practical requirements. Figure 9 (A) compares the original CROPS design, which used 60mm diameter S235 steel with the latest design, which uses 40mm diameter S355 steel. Figure 9 (B) shows that one of the effects of the optimization was the reduction of an additional 100 mm to the overall height of the tractor, whilst continuing to ensure operator protection.

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Figure 9: Comparison between original and latest CROPS designs - top left: latest design fabricated out

Figure 9: Comparison between original and latest CROPS designs - top left: latest design fabricated out of 40mm diameter S355 tubular steel; bottom left: original design fabricated out of 60mm diameter S235 tubular steel.

Figure 9: Comparison between original and latest CROPS designs - top left: latest design fabricated out

Prototypes

On the basis of the experimental test which investigated structural and functional aspects, two prototypes have been realized. The first one was made from S235 60 mm diameter tubular steel (see Figure 10). The overall height of the tractor fitted with this CROPS was 1889 mm from the ground.

Figure 10: Crops first prototype

Figure 9: Comparison between original and latest CROPS designs - top left: latest design fabricated out

The latest version of CROPS was made from S355 tubular steel with a diameter of 40 mm (see Figure 11). The overall height of the tractor fitted with this CROPS was 1789 mm from the ground. The overall height could be further reduced by about 100 mm by fitting the tractor with the smallest tires authorized by the manufacturer.

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Figure 11: Crops latest version 2.4. What was achieved? The CROPS design process resulted in a

Figure 11: Crops latest version

Figure 11: Crops latest version 2.4. What was achieved? The CROPS design process resulted in a

2.4. What was achieved?

The CROPS design process resulted in a permanently fixed roll over protective structure which should provide an adequate level of protection to tractor drivers in the case of a roll over. By reducing the tractor’s overall height by 480 mm (see Figure 12), working under trees was possible. Moreover, the particular shape of the structure renders working under trees an easier activity and reduces the likelihood of branches being damaged. This has led to an increase in the level of roll over protection offered to drivers of narrow track wheeled agricultural tractors.

Figure 12: Height reduction of tractor

Figure 11: Crops latest version 2.4. What was achieved? The CROPS design process resulted in a

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2.5. Success factors The virtual prototyping process and finite element analysis allowed a significant reduction in
  • 2.5. Success factors

The virtual prototyping process and finite element analysis allowed a significant reduction in design costs. Furthermore, the computer aided design (CAD) virtual model helped to take the ergonomic features of the structure into account and the finite element analysis enabled streamlining of the structure, improving its mechanical strength and optimising the machine- production process. Thus, the costly experimental tests have only been carried out on the prototypes which had virtual models that successfully passed the structural analysis.

The success factors of the CROPS itself can be summarized as follows:

reduced tractor overall height;

improvement of roll-over protective structure shape, suitable for working under trees or in greenhouses;

non-foldable roll-over protective structure;

  • 2.6. Further information

AZIENDA AGRICOLA CASALE 01032 CAPRAROLA (VT) Contact Person: Carlo Stelliferi 0761 646391

  • 2.7. Transferability

Since the frame is made from commercial steel tubing, the metalwork necessary is not complex and can easily be carried out by most metal fabricators and workshops. The CROPS can, therefore, be easily realized and installed on narrow track wheeled agricultural tractors. The present cost of CROPS is about 2,500 euro each but, once the production process is at full speed, the cost will be significantly reduced. Moreover ISPESL is going to incorporate the CROPS project into the national guideline developed, and already used, for making the old agricultural and forestry tractors produced without a ROPS consistent with the safety requirements of the current Italian safety consolidated act (D. Lgs. 81/08). In any case, the advantages in its use in terms of health and safety of the operator are significantly greater than the economical aspects.

  • 3. References, resources:

  • 1. OECD code 6 – OECD Standard Code for the Official Testing of Front Mounted Roll-over

Protective Structures on Narrow Track Wheeled Agricultural and Forestry Tractors – February

2010.

  • 2. OECD code 7 – OECD Standard Code for the Official Testing of Rear Mounted Roll-over

Protective Structures on Narrow Track Wheeled Agricultural and Forestry Tractors – February

2010.

Further reading:

http://www.oecd.org/document/10/0,3343,en_2649_33905_34735882_1_1_1_1,00.html

(accessed 29/10/10).

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