Experimental dynamic substructuring: Analysis and design strategies for vehicle development

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

15 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


Sound and vibration have a defining influence on our perception of product quality. They are especially well-known aspects in the automotive industry; a branch which sees, besides safety and driving comfort, ever-increasing expectations of the acoustic experience. After all, a smooth and silent driving experience appeals to a feeling of premiumness, a connotation no longer reserved to the top segment in the industry. While traditional combustion engines are gradually getting replaced by hybrid or full-electric drive-lines, other electromechanical (so-called mechatronic) systems make their entrance. As a consequence, the sound experience shifts from low-frequent engine roar to high-frequent humming and whining – a yet unfamiliar experience that calls for redefinition of the soundscape. To support such change, it is necessary that sound and vibration aspects can be considered in an early phase of development by means of simulations. This poses a true challenge: although state-of-art numerical modelling techniques can simulate the low-frequent dynamics fairly well, they often fail to provide reliable answers for the higher acoustic frequency range.

This thesis presents techniques that aim to implement measurements of structural dynamics and active vibration sources into development processes. By characterising the passive and active dynamics of yet available components by means of measurements and combining those with numerical models, a hybrid simulation emerges that may provide answers to high-frequent problems in an early phase of development. This hybrid simulation is facilitated by use of Experimental Dynamic Substructuring: a methodology that determines structural dynamic aspects of complete products based on individually measured components.Part one of this thesis presents a variety of methods for simulation and substructuring that form the basic toolbox for generation, analysis, coupling and decoupling of dynamic models. Pivotal is the experimental approach, which means that dynamic models are obtained from measurements rather than numerical modelling efforts. To transform such measurements into a model that is compatible for coupling with other (numerical) models, the virtual point transformation is proposed. This method considers measured responses and applied forces around (user-chosen) points as locally rigid displacements and forces. Doing so, every connection point of a component can be described by three translations and three rotations with respect to a global reference frame, perfectly suited for substructuring. At the same time, the quality of the measurement and transformed frequency response functions can be quantified objectively using the proposed consistency functions. Altogether, the virtual point method bridges the gap between experimental and numerical modelling activities and enables us to exploit substructuring effectively for complex high-frequency systems.

Part two presents a comprehensive study of Transfer Path Analysis (TPA); a collection of methods that contemplate a vibration problem as a source, transmission and receiver. A general framework for TPA is presented by re-interpreting eleven methods from the perspective of substructuring. It is shown that these methods can be categorised into three families, that in turn differ in the nature of characterisation of the source. The component-based TPA is regarded the most promising family, which allows to characterise a source independent of the environment in which it has been measured. The vibrations of the active source can be replaced by equivalent force spectra that, multiplied with the (simulated) FRFs of the assembled vehicle, predict what this source would sound like in the vehicle. Several practical methods are discussed to determine such equivalent forces: from forces measured against a blocked boundary, using free velocities, based on measurements on a compliant test bench or using the so-called in-situ and pseudo-forces methods. For further generalisation, a notation is presented that governs the abovementioned principles and facilitates the application and comparison of component-based TPA methods. In particular, it is shown that controllability and observability – concepts adopted from control theory – are strongly related to TPA; proper understanding of these principles yields interesting opportunities for analysis and simulation.

The developed methods have been applied to analyse the vibrations of the electric power-assisted steering (EPS) system, which is reported on in part three. It is demonstrated that the virtual point transformation is able to determine accurate FRFs in a frequency range up to 6000 Hertz. Substructuring is applied to simulate the FRFs of a vehicle by applying the principle of substitute coupling, which employs a substitute beam during measurement in the vehicle to represent the dynamic effects of the steering system to couple. For the purpose of characterisation of the steering system’s excitations, several testing environments are discussed: a stiff test bench, more compliant test benches and the vehicle itself. Each configuration is accompanied by a specific method for source characterisation, for which it is demonstrated that the equivalent forces are indeed an environment-independent description of the active excitations of the steering system. It is shown that these forces can be used for the prediction of sound and vibrations in the vehicle. The presented applications offer, with understanding of substructuring and TPA theory, insights in the practical aspects of the methodology. This opens interesting opportunities for early-phase development of sound and vibration.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Rixen, Daniel, Supervisor
  • de Klerk, D., Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date16 Jun 2016
Place of PublicationDelft, The Netherlands
Print ISBNs978-94-6186-671-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • dynamic substructuring
  • transfer path analysis
  • NVH
  • vehicle development
  • experimental dynamics
  • source characterization

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