The world wants more than 10 000 red shakers

02 Jul 2013

2012 was the biggest year ever for the LDS range. With over 3500 shakers installed since LDS became part of Brüel & Kjær in 2009, LDS vibration test systems lead the world in many different industries.


“We have terrific pride in what we do. I get a huge kick out of knowing that something I have put together tests a satellite before it’s launched”

Richard Oakley, Assembly Technician

There are over 10 000 individual LDS shakers out in the world today – over 3500 of which were installed since the merger with Brüel & Kjær in 2009

Change, as many great philosophers have said, can be positive and negative. But for customers of the LDS shaker range, change is all about improving value. In January 2009, LDS Test and Measurement made a very positive change when it took five decades of history and a global customer base and became part of Brüel & Kjær. This dream team saw the world-leaders in vibration test systems integrate with the world-leaders in sound and vibration data acquisition and signal analysis. In the process, we have developed into a global supplier with unrivalled technical and service capabilities.

Royston is the UK home of Brüel & Kjær and the largest vibration test system factory in the world. All LDS R&D and custom projects are handled here, which facilitates very easy communication.
With the incorporation of the LDS range, Brüel & Kjær is now the largest vibration test system provider in the world, and since the merger, the LDS range has gone from strength to strength. Despite the persistent global financial crisis, Brüel & Kjær is producing more LDS vibration test systems than ever before. 2012 was the most successful year for LDS orders, reflecting an enduring and growing global confidence in the brand. “We manufacture about 900 shakers a year and this number is rapidly increasing,” explains the Head of R&D and Engineering for the LDS range at Brüel & Kjær, Alex Williamson. In fact, over 3500 vibration test systems have been installed since the 2009 merger, taking the total number of individual LDS shakers in use around the world today well over 10 000.

As they have been for over 50 years, LDS vibration test systems are made in Royston, near London, in the largest vibration test system factory in the world.

Long-term investments

Andrew Turner
Andrew Turner, who has been involved in factory management and logistics for 15 years, including at Airbus

All over the globe, the majority of the LDS vibration test systems are in near-constant use. Day in, day out for 25 years or more they exhaust the life out of any test object, by condensing a lifetime’s stresses into a few hours. In these intense test schedules – where downtime is very expensive – vibration test systems need to be tough on a level that most equipment doesn’t have to come close to.

As our Head of Operations Andrew Turner says, "Durability is highly important and the longevity of the shakers is an important part of the value proposition." Even controllers and amplifiers typically wear out before the shakers do, and that kind of long-term durability is what we at Brüel & Kjær believe you should get with an investment on this scale. Like the people who buy vibration test systems, we know the value of investing in quality equipment, and we have invested hugely in both people and infrastructure since 2009 – a process which is still ongoing. And it’s about more than just the higher productivity and reduced lead times.

More scope to customise

The added resources of Brüel & Kjær has boosted our ability to customise LDS vibration test systems, which is a key part of the value offered by Brüel & Kjær. “About two thirds of our shakers business is customised,” says Alex Williamson, “and our ability to tailor a shaker to customer-specific requirements is a great advantage. Our sole aim is to focus on solving customers’ challenges.”

As well as dual and quad shaker configurations, typical customisations include slip tables, guided head expanders, bespoke mounting fixtures, environmental chamber interfaces, and specific cooling or noise reduction arrangements. Our shakers are customised for use in space, aerospace, defence, automotive, oil drilling industries, consumer products, package testing and more.

ESA-ESTEC has a quad-shaker satellite testing system capable of 640 kN force

The biggest differentiating factor – force input – ranges from 9N up to the largest we have made to date – a quad V984 system of 640 kN used for satellite testing at ESA-ESTEC. Given this range of shakers, there is no vibration test application that Brüel & Kjær products can’t cover.

Complete systems from one supplier

A great example of synergies arising from the merger is one of the satellite qualification test systems that we delivered to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, INPE. This system, which connects Brüel & Kjær LAN-XI Data Acquisition Hardware with an LDS vibration test system, is a concrete example of the benefits from combining LDS products with Brüel & Kjær’s range. Here, the test safety and the avoidance of over-testing is critically important, so the Brüel & Kjær solution gives closed-loop control and integrated data acquisition over hundreds of channels. Each channel gives accurate information on force or vibration levels at any point on a satellite, ensuring its fragile and expensive structure isn’t over-tested, and providing valuable data for correlation with Finite Element (FE) models.

For such a system, the customer was able to deal with one dedicated organisation to supply a complete system, manage the entire project and deliver the necessary support and service. As our Vice President of Strategic Marketing Alun Crewe says, “Customers appreciate our high-performance project management and ‘can-do’ attitude.”

A satellite qualification system during a factory acceptance test for Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, INPE, showing the hundreds of channels of data acquisition hardware and monitoring screens destined for different areas of the test facility. The red LDS vibration test system is located in the testing area, with a satellite mounted ready for testing.

Commitment to change

Head of R&D and Engineering for the LDS range at Brüel & Kjær, Alex Williamson

Staying at the top takes an ongoing dedication to improvement, which is part of the culture on the LDS factory floor. “We’re committed to continuous change,” says Andrew Turner. “The LDS brand is the ultimate in vibration test systems, and our job is to keep it there.” Reflecting the investment in the LDS range since the merger, in September 2011 the Royston factory received a Highly Commended Award for Best Factory in the Electrical and Electronics category, and we haven’t finished improving. “I’ve seen positive changes since the integration with Brüel & Kjær,” says Alex Williamson. “These are especially apparent in R&D, where the LDS range has inherited process tools that have helped enormously to improve design efficiency.”

Continuous Improvement, Lean and Production Engineering are the focus of David Auty, who has been working for Brüel & Kjær since June 2011. Shortly after joining, David introduced an award system to mobilise the many minds at work on the LDS range and publicly recognise positive changes. These are Before, After, Result, Next Awards (B.A.R.N.), which motivate everyone to improve processes wherever they see the potential – so everyone takes a part in creating the best possible products. “We encourage input from anyone,” says David Auty. Each of the more than 100 B.A.R.N. awards issued since June 2011 recognises an improvement that benefits shaker customers, coming directly from the people who build them. 

“I’ve seen positive changes since the integration with Brüel & Kjær. These are especially apparent in R&D, where the LDS range has inherited some process tools that have helped enormously to improve design efficiency”

Head of R&D and Engineering for the LDS range at Brüel & Kjær, Alex Williamson

Left to right: Mike Jeffs, David Auty and Richard Oakley on the production line

As Assembly Technician Richard Oakley (image right) says, “Seven of my B.A.R.N. projects have been adopted to date. The management really listens to us and we have terrific pride in what we do. I get a huge kick out of knowing that something I have put together tests a satellite before it’s launched.”

Improvements for customer service

The merger between Brüel & Kjær and LDS has enabled us to invest heavily in our global organisation, so we can provide consistent, top quality service throughout the world. We have grown our direct sales network and cut down the number of distributors we use. We’ve partnered with the distributors that specialise in vibration testing, and are large enough in scope to offer coverage that can benefit our customers.

For you, it means more direct access to Brüel & Kjær. We offer a range of service and maintenance plans to choose from, so you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your investment will always be operating at optimal capacity. After you call our Global Customer Service organisation, they can decide if sales, support or field service are needed based on the nature of the request, and dispatch them accordingly. By enlarging, pooling and spreading our resources efficiently, we have the capacity to assign resources anywhere needed, without the danger of becoming exhausted.


NASA’s Mars rover ‘Curiosity’ undergoing testing on an LDS shaker system

The future

Right now, we are working very hard to take the knowledge and expertise of our people out into the field, offering comprehensive service plans to protect customer investments. Thanks to the considerable resources and expertise of Brüel & Kjær, we are able to work more efficiently and develop smarter systems that are easy to use, simplify procedures, give good test guidance, and help avoid misuse – all to ensure highly reliable testing. We are excited about the synergies that are developing, and will continue to improve the value we can offer. All in all, the future looks very bright for the LDS range of shakers.

Read all about the service and support you can get from Brüel & Kjær

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The toughest shaker in the world? – Valeo, France

LDS Shaker V875

Valeo is one of the largest automotive components manufacturers in the world.

Valeo has five V875-440 shakers with slip tables, which have all worked an impressive number of hours.

But one, a V875-440 LPT600 has run for over 74131 hours since 1999 – that’s more than 16 hours a day for 12 years!

That particular shaker is used for tough lifecycle testing of car alternators.

The shakers have benefitted from a regular maintenance plan where major maintenance is carried out every three years, and minor maintenance every other year – keeping two service engineers busy for two weeks.

Has your shaker worked harder?

Please let us know!

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A case study - CU Icar

Carlos A. Montes, Lead Engineer for Research and Testing at CU Icar

The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in South Carolina, USA, is aiming to become the premier automotive and motorsports research and educational centre in the world.

In 2012, as part of their ambition to connect with industries also based in South Carolina, CU-ICAR built a Component Testing Laboratory to perform durability and validation testing for BMW and their suppliers, as well as other vehicle manufacturers.

Read the full case study

“Brüel & Kjær is a global company, and I saw many examples of durable LDS shakers around the world and obtained many personal references, and I knew that I wanted a Brüel & Kjær LDS solution. The installation and commissioning went extremely well and I am very proud of our facility. It provides excellent value”

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We help our customers measure and manage the quality of sound and vibration in their products and in the environment

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