Most product development processes in use today go like this: prototype, test, discover flaws, re-design, and then repeat over and over until a seemingly sound design is reached. The Outdoor industry, specifically the hunting sector, is no exception. This kind of trial-and-error product development process rarely delivers an optimized structure, and it fails to provide any insights into the products performance and safety boundaries.
Worse, it can end up costing a fortune by the time an acceptable product is achieved. Industries such as aerospace and medicine realized long ago that risk management and product reliability are crucial to company and consumer success. These industries adopted product reliability analysis methodologies through advanced engineering to test prototype designs before they ever reach the market.
Stress Outdoor® decided it was time to introduce the application of these advanced engineering technologies into the Outdoor industry, starting with a popular product known to novice and advanced hunters alike: the treestand. Using two advanced engineering methods known as predictive non-linear finite element analysis (FEA) and strain gage instrumentation testing, we conducted a cursory structural assessment of a fixed position treestand when subjected to real-world loading conditions. The simulated conditions test the tree stand’s as-is structural behaviors, such as deformation, strains, and stresses triggered by the loading conditions
The three loading conditions evaluated were: 1. sitting on the seat, 2. standing on the platform and 3. combined loading where the weight of the hunter is distributed between the seat and platform. Utilizing FEA and strain gage technology in this experiment allowed SES to easily pinpoint areas of over-load, or 'hot spots', in the tree stands, and explore additional structural approaches to correct them before sending the product to market. This is one of many proactive methods that can be exercised in product development through advanced engineering. SES concluded that when used most efficiently, reliability engineering can significantly reduce the probability of failure for critical structures and systems, enabling the outdoor market to develop better performing, safer, and more profitable products.