AKRON—If you're a hose manufacturer interested in having a thorough test conducted of your product, Jeffrey Andrasik is confident that he and his team can get you all the answers you want.
First, though, it's imperative you provide him with the right questions.
Andrasik, product testing operations manager at Smithers Rapra, said asking the right questions ahead of time represents his biggest challenge.
“It really helps if we make sure the hose assembly is set up right the first time,” he said. “If it's an automotive hose, clients should set up some presentation about how it sits in a vehicle. You hate wasting time setting it up multiple times, especially if those parameters are available from the outset.”
Some of those questions might include: Is there any motion? What is the specific flow direction? Flow rate? What is the torque value for the crimping of the connection? Some assemblies have brackets—are they supposed to be moving?
“If you're considering testing your hoses in a certain way, you have to think about the situations up front, to save time in the process and get the right results and data,” said Todd Hain, marketing manager at Smithers.
If a product is in the research and development stage, the client often is trying to confirm the results of its tests. “In the production portion of the cycle, understanding what the environment is, what the end use is or what the application entails, that is extremely helpful,” Andrasik said.
He oversees two testing laboratories, one in Akron, the other in East Lansing, Mich., for Smithers Rapra, which provides polymer testing, consulting services, training and market reports for rubber and plastics materials produced in the tire, industrial, automotive, consumer and medical industries.
Andrasik's team of eight technicians conduct a wide range of mechanical testing for several products, including hoses, belts, tire valves and widgets—examining the products' ability to perform under various internal and external factors. He said a majority of the products he tests are hoses.
“I still get my hands dirty and work in the lab and perform some of the tests, collecting data, analyzing reports, then moving on to the next project,” said Andrasik, a University of Akron graduate.
During his 13 years at Smithers, he has developed and executed a wide variety of test programs, including pressure, vibration and temperature specifications on automotive, hydraulic, industrial, aerospace, nuclear and consumer products.
Some of the common failures he and his team discover include a hose just not right for the specific application; a faulty crimping process; metal fittings on hoses leaking under extreme temperature; and abrasion difficulties. “It just depends on the hose and the application,” he said.
Hoses can be tested in a wide range of temperatures: Automotive hoses typically are tested between temperatures of -40° C to 135° C, while industrial or hydraulic hoses commonly are tested in the 232° C range.
In addition, radiator hoses, are tested for 30 to 50 psi, while hydraulic hoses are tested for anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 psi, depending on their diameter.
The time it takes for a test to be conducted and analyzed varies greatly. “Some tests take 231/2 hours; some are 14 days long,” Andrasik said. “It really depends on the stage you're at, and what you're trying to prove. You can't do 10 days of testing in five days.”
Business has been steady, he said, particularly with the automotive industry going strong. “They're making cars every day, and each model is different. They still use some of the same (hoses), but you have to make sure this extra bend in this particular product can do the job.”
Andrasik will be one of 17 technical speakers during the Hose Manufacturers Conference, set for Nov. 11-12 at the Hilton Inn in Fairlawn, Ohio. His topic is “Testing Considerations for Optimal Hose Performance—An Expert Overview.”
“We're going to go over the common failures, challenges, what questions to ask up front, ways to reduce the testing time, how to get your hose into production, how external laboratories like Smithers Rapra can help,” Andrasik said. “We'll cover those key features.”
Testing, he said, is a mobile process. “In our laboratory, everything is on wheels. We are constantly moving around. Pun intended.”