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Quick release couplings meet defence sector requirements

Quick release couplings meet defence sector requirements

dvanced cooling solutions are significantly improving the performance and reliability of military combat vehicles. Key to their operation are quick release couplings.

Based in Northampton, NAR Group is a specialist manufacturer of automotive radiators for vintage, classic and modern high performance sports cars. Now, thanks to the use of quick release couplings, the company has successfully applied its skills to the challenging demands of the defence sector.

NAR Group is a Tier 1 supplier to Aston Martin, having over 70% of the iconic automotive manufacturer's radiator and oil cooler production, as well as being a key supplier to Jaguar Landrover and many other well-known marques. For over 47 years NAR has been widely recognised as a specialist manufacturer and repairer of radiators; if you need a replacement for your E-type Jaguar or Aston Martin DB4 this is the place to go. Not only will the company provide a radiator that looks exactly the same as the original, the innovative internal structure and design usually results in better performance than the original.

The improvements in radiator performance result from the deep understanding of cooling systems that NAR has built up over many years. Combining this with its manufacturing expertise in forming and welding aluminium, it produces a radiator superior in performance and only 30% of the weight of traditional copper and brass designs.

The distinct operational advantages of these high performance radiators were recognised by the defence sector which was experiencing cooling difficulties on the Scorpion CVRT - a light weight tracked reconnaissance class of vehicle. Being used in the hot and hostile environment of the Middle East these vehicles were experiencing overheating issues due to the addition of heavy armour. Replacement NAR radiators performed better than the originals and were lighter in weight.

To answer the demand for a significant improvement to the vehicles maintainability, Stäubli quick release air-conditioning connectors were specified for the condenser attached to the radiator. This made it possible for the complete condenser and radiator group to be quickly removed from the vehicle and replaced without any need to de-pressurise, vacuum and recharge the refrigerant in the system. An operation that would normally take 2.5 hours was reduced to just 30mins.

Reliability was considerably improved too, by eliminating the mechanical stresses on the condenser connection pipes which had been fracturing due to bending on removal and refitting of the condenser. The substantial reduction in maintenance time afforded by the use of connectors meant an improvement in vehicle availability and decreased exposure of vehicle engineers to the dangers of the combat zone.

Following on from the success with Scorpion, NAR turned its attention to the Panther class - a highly modified IVECO light multirole wheeled vehicle. Overheating problems were being experienced, particularly in convoy situations, and the radiators were clogging up with the fine dust of the Afghan desert. NAR's response was to analyse the complete cooling group on the vehicle - water radiator, oil cooler and air-conditioning condenser. The internal air flow characteristics were modified by designing a louvre core to prevent the clogging effect of the fine sand. All the cooling elements were brought together into one compact cooling group.

Stäubli connectors were recognised by the vehicle supplier as providing an ideal connection system to complement the new cooling group that would aid essential vehicle maintenance keeping the vehicles in theatre for longer. By installing clean break connectors removal and refit of the cooling group was achieved without draining the refrigerant, saving hours on each maintenance task.

The use of application-specific quick release connectors on military vehicles provide a safe and secure method of disconnecting and re-connecting essential liquid and gas lines with no draining and refilling thus enabling faster maintenance without the need for specialist tools, equipment or training. Vehicle air-conditioning circuits used for personal cooling are critical in the hot arid climates of operation and cannot be compromised. Using St_ubli's refrigerant couplings, high integrity leak free connection points provide a simple solution for breaking cooling lines, ensuring reliable operation and maintenance without spillage of ozone depleting gasses, or inclusion of dirt into the system.

These innovative developments were so successful that the operational efficiency of the vehicle fleet was significantly improved, resulting in reduced inventory requirements, saving both cost and manpower. Geoff Holmes, general manager at NAR comments: "The defence sector quickly recognised the benefits of using high performance cooling systems with the ability to readily replace damaged items when necessary. St_ubli's quick release connectors form an essential part of the system, eliminating the need to de-pressurise the systems and have performed faultlessly through all our testing and in operation in the field."

So impressed with the results seen on Panther, IVECO requested a new cooling system with integrated Stäubli connectors for installation on their Light Military Vehicle for the Norwegian Army. NAR designed and manufactured the completed cooling group, radiator, charge air cooler, oil cooler and condenser with integrated connectors for refrigerant and oil. The clean break connectors enable the complete cooling group to be removed without spillage of a single drop of fluid, saving hours on maintenance and improving vehicle reliability. Due in part to these successes the defence sector now represents a substantial and growing part of both St_ubli's and NAR's activities.

St_ubli's unique connector range is designed to meet these challenges and provide fast, secure and reliable circuit connection and disconnection. Flat-faced connector technology guarantees no spillage and eliminates any risk of air or contaminants entering the circuits; removing the need to purge the cooling system. Compact and lightweight, Stäubli connectors are able to withstand vibration and corrosion and will perform faultlessly for thousands of connection cycles; they offer robust bayonet, screw or ball locking systems to ensure circuit integrity is maintained even in the harshest environments.

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