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Research Partnerships & Innovation

Reinventing the irrigation system wheel

June 25, 2021

Typically, agricultural irrigation systems use wheels with a steel rim and an air-filled rubber tire. As with most rubber tires, they are prone to losing air pressure, wearing out, and cracking over time. Rubber tire wheels are also difficult and time consuming to replace on large irrigation systems, causing significant downtime while the equipment is under repair.

Cascade Manufacturing (Cascade), located in MacGregor, Manitoba, designs and fabricates agricultural irrigation products, and saw an opportunity to improve the traditional irrigation system wheel. After creating a prototype for a low-maintenance, all-steel bolted wheel, Cascade worked with the Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TACAM) at Red River College to perform a design review to identify and address high mechanical stress areas and potential points of failure.

In order to perform the review, Cascade provided 3D CAD files of their newly designed bolted wheel to TACAM for analysis. The TACAM research team used in-house expertise in 3D modelling and finite element analysis (FEA) to evaluate the stresses throughout the wheel in accordance with design allowable limits.

Cascade used the recommendations provided to redesign the bolted wheel and engaged TACAM to re-evaluate the new design for verification purposes. TACAM provided recommendations for design improvement and cost reduction based on findings. The original bolted wheel failed under 10,000 load cycles, versus the newly designed bolted wheel is expected to last more than 200,000 cycles. The improved bolted wheel design is currently being manufactured and promoted for local and export sales.

Bolted wheel on irrigation equipment

The newly designed bolted wheel in action!

Key project benefits:

• Cost-effective design evaluation and product improvement

• Attained confidence in the load-bearing capacity of a new product being introduced to the market

• Enhanced competitiveness and innovation, and potential for an increased local and international customer base





If not for our experience with TACAM, we likely wouldn’t have determined that the grade of steel used on our wheels was prone to low cycle fatigue. With TACAM’s expertise on how to minimize stress concentration points, we were able to produce a bolted wheel with thinner grade material than we thought possible. The FEA study they conducted determined that the stresses are within tolerance, which gave us confidence to manufacture and test the product in field conditions. Overall, we are very satisfied with the results from the bolted wheel project with TACAM. -Matt Waldner, Cascade Manufacturing

The bolted wheel projected received support from: