Designing Safety into Explosive Handling Trucks

Safety comes first when designing Explosive Transportation Trucks. But how can you streamline design in such a heavily regulated and customer-driven industry?

Virginia’s Tread Corp has been in the business of building explosive handling equipment for nearly 50 years. Over that time the company has learned a number of important lessons about design – in particular that the right technology can dramatically improve your design process.

Every day around the globe Tread trucks carry up to 40,000 pounds of explosives from manufacturers to work sites. Given the volatility of their cargo, Tread’s engineers have to design their machines to meet strict regulatory / safety standards that vary widely from country to country. Add to those requirements a range of customer specifications and the complexity of each machine becomes immediately evident.

To unravel their complex design process, Tread leans heavily on their CAD tools. Whether they’re designing parts for fabrication or importing third-party equipment, Tread’s engineers use Siemens’ Solid Edge technology.

Unlike older CAD technology, Tread’s operation leverages the strengths of history-based CAD design (feature tree; parametric features) with a more malleable, history-free CAD paradigm. Because of this switch Tread’s team has seen a substantial decrease in the amount of time it takes to design an explosive handling truck.

“When doing a new design, typically it takes me about half the time than it did using history-based modeling,” says Jim Truskey, designer and engineering software admin with Tread. “I can change the design, pull it around, move faces and try various iterations.”

Synchronous Technology in Action

For every company, regardless of industry, the ability to reuse a proven design saves time and sweetens the bottom line. According to Jim Trusky, however, things aren’t always that simple for Tread’s design team. “Every customer has their own set of requirements. This one wants this brand of pumps and this one likes this brand. It’s very challenging having to make a truck basically function the same but with different components.”

To meet their customers’ demands Tread’s designers use Solid Edge’s synchronous technology to import CAD models of various formats into their design. Combining this plug-and-play approach with the ability to shift geometry on the fly maximizes the value of previously proven designs.

Aside from versatile modeling tools and flexible model importing, Tread’s CAD tool has added hidden value to the firm. With designs moving from CAD to construction at an unprecedented pace designers and engineers have more time to contribute in other areas where the company sees a need. “[Solid Edge has] made me more productive,” Truskey says. “It’s allowed me to pursue other items at work such as the software administration side of our CAD and PLM software, and it’s allowed me time to do multiple duties.”

Through the use of Siemens Synchronous technology Tread’s team has reduced design time by 50 percent and design revision times by 75 percent. While those numbers are impressive on there own the truly dramatic result has been Tread’s ability to stay ahead in a fast paced business where they must balance a touchy blend of safety, performance and rapid production.

Note: Siemens has sponsored promotion of their design software solutions on They have no editorial input to this post – all opinions are mine.

Kyle Maxey

Images Courtesy of Siemens