During my time at Warn, I have worked on several projects pertaining to an array of different
products. This has provided invaluable knowledge and experience which I would not have
otherwise gained from school alone.
The biggest project and accomplishment during my time has been the design and release of a
universal plow mounting system for all terrain vehicles (ATV’s). The engineering portion of this
project was headed by myself and involved everything from design and analysis, to specific
vehicle fit-up, testing, and product release. The project schedule required tight deadlines in order
for this new product to be implemented from inception to production in less than 6 months.
Another main project involved design of a planetary gear carrier test fixture, which will be used
to verify good gear sets are being used inside all of Warn’s Vantage winch line. Since no such
method was previously used to verify whether or not the gear sets were built correctly, this
fixture and process will help prevent major issues that should have been avoided.
My contributions to Warn helped save over $400,000 as well as provide a profit of almost
$175,000 during a 3-5 year product cycle for the Universal Plow Mount.
Warn Industries was founded in 1948 by Arthur Warn who revolutionized the automotive
industry with wheel locking hubs. Since then the company has grown to design, manufacture and
market a full line of off-road equipment and accessories that enhance the performance of four-
wheel-drive vehicles, ATV’s and utility vehicles. The company markets electric and hydraulic
winches and hoists to commercial, industrial and severe duty customers, as well as a line of
utility winches and hoists designed for professionals and DIY enthusiasts.
The majority of my internship has focused around power-sports products, including small
winches (2000-4500 lb winches designed for ATV’s and side-by-sides), plow systems, and
accessories (including plow mounting kits). I worked with two other engineers in the ‘new
product introduction’ (NPI-green) team under the division of ‘product/design, engineering and
launch’. My supervisor and team leader of NPI-green was Adam Reiner.
Universal plow mount
The most time consuming project I worked on was the universal plow mount. Until now, Warn
has designed and manufactured vehicle specific plow mounts for ATV’s. This requires tedious
design updates for new vehicle models, large inventory upkeep for dealers, and a confusing
selection process for the end user. The universal mount, however, would fit a majority of
vehicles. This guarantees that the user can successfully attach his plow system to his ATV.
I was tasked with heading the design, development, testing, release (and much more) of this
product, and work began as soon as I arrived at Warn. This was the perfect project for me to gain
experience in the total design and product implementation process. Beginning with concept
brainstorming and competitive benchmarking, a design concept was selected. During this
process, I worked with the product manager to determine a set of specific product requirements.
Additionally, a design failure modes and effects analysis (DFMEA) was performed with quality.
From the DFMEA, a design validation plan and report (DVP&R) was created, which determines
what testing needs to be performed. With these documents in place, I had much more direction
and was able to select the best concept that fit all requirements.
Before modeling was done, I visited a number of dealerships to take measurements and get a
better idea of how exactly the mounting device would work. With a range of dimensions and a
design concept in place, models were created with computer aided design (CAD) software, while
stress analysis was performed on paper. Finally, drawings were made to match each component
of the mounting system. After drawing reviews were conducted with fabrication engineers, a
prototype was ready to be made and requests for testing (RFT) were submitted.
The design process went through the following cycle: Concept, analysis, prototype, testing,
repeat. With each prototype came a new problem or issue which had to be corrected. The cycle
iterated multiple times and many changes were made before a final design was selected.
Throughout the process I worked on cost reduction, finite element analysis (FEA), vehicle fit-
ups, drawings, quote requests, and testing.
Aside from successfully fitting the first prototype on its first vehicle, the most rewarding
experience from this project was after testing completed. There were various considerations that
went into designing the mount for strength and durability. After reluctantly choosing a thinner
material (10 GA steel, 29% thinner than Warn’s other mounts), I was much less confident that
the mount would withstand the required testing. First, to simulate a winch powered plow
assembly accidently lifting against the frame of the vehicle, a 500 lb down-pull test was
implemented. Next, the mount had to withstand a 3000 lb horizontal load centered on the plow
blade, and a 1000 lb load on the edge of the plow blade. Finally, the mount had to withstand 6
impacts at 5-8 mph (maximum plow operating speed). After successfully completing all strength
testing, I was much more confident in the product I had designed.
Even after the design and testing process, there was still a lot I had to do. This included
completing a make vs. buy decision, creating/approving/translating instructions, box selection
and artwork creation, customer reviews, bill of material (BOM) creation, and tolerance stack-up
analysis. All of this proved to be valuable experience. For example, the installation instructions
process showed me which parts of the product were confusing or difficult to work with, they also
helped me perfect the installation process. Similarly, tolerance stack-up analysis showed that
literally all of the parts could have been made so that they do not fit together, even if original
drawing tolerances were followed. Fortunately, these issues were caught and tolerances were
adjusted accordingly. There are many steps and actions that must be taken in order to ensure the
smooth release of a product, and it is very important that companies take all actions possible in
order to prevent any issues.
If everything goes well, the Universal Plow Mount will be released by the time I leave Warn.
Even in the last weeks of my internship I have learned a lot about how different divisions of the
company work together to ensure smooth operation. Throughout the process of an engineering
change notice (ECN), I worked with people from almost every department in the company. This
includes finance, corporate purchasing, fabrication, manufacturing, quality, marketing, and
Albright contactor changeover
Due to dwindling part availability, great efforts have been taken to smoothly transition several
winch kits to new contactors. This included both original equipment (OE) and aftermarket kits,
and required the approval of several large ATV manufacturers. My role in this change included
new contactor drawing updates and release, RFT submission and supervision, and ECN
implementation. With this, dozens of top level winch kits and contactor kits had to be updated
with current parts, including drawing updates and reviews.
Yaneng contactor update
After seeing improvements in small winch Albright contactors, Yaneng was asked to make
sealing improvements to their contactors. I was in charge of communicating with sales reps from
Yaneng while supervising Warn testing. After initial testing showed contactors failing several
tests, I researched and compared previous contactors with the newly supplied ones. Finally, I
communicated failures with Yaneng directly, who worked to improve the product and send Warn
new samples to test.
Vantage carrier test fixture
Until now, small winch engineers have had no way to tell whether or not Vantage line planetary
gear carriers have been manufactured correctly. While engineering drawings specify a test
procedure to verify the correct manufacturing of these parts, the test procedure was never
created. I was handed this project and told to design tooling and fixtures to accurately access the
manufacturing process of these carriers. Specifically, the staking process – high pressure
squishing of planetary pins so that the carrier set is held together – was verified. I was also given
the opportunity to refine outlines of a testing procedure to ensure that the current staking
pressure is adequate.
I started the process by looking at similar previous designs and improving them. The fixture was
designed to emulate the gear housing of a winch, the difference being that two outputs are fixed
and one is driven. This differs from an ordinary planetary gear assembly in that usually only one
output is fixed out of a sun gear, ring gear, and carrier combination. In this case, fixing all
outputs was necessary so that the strength of the carrier set can be assessed. With this system, a
technician can insert the carrier set into the fixture and apply torque to the input (a sun gear),
after the specified torque has been reached, overall deflection of the carrier set is measured and
One cool aspect of the design is that all of the parts are easily interchangeable. This means that
all carrier sets (7 total) from each Vantage winch can be tested. Once the correct staking pressure
is verified, this fixture will be used about once a month to ensure that the strength and
manufacturing process of each carrier set is adequate, and matches performance of previous sets.
This will help prevent large variation in the manufacturing of each gear set, and ultimately in
each Vantage winch.
Just like the Universal Plow Mount project, I was able to interact with various groups outside of
my team while working on this fixture. First, it was important that quality and manufacturing
engineers were on board with the design and process. For this, meetings were held for drawing
and process reviews. After the design was finished, it had to be built. For this, I submitted a
request to Warn’s tool and die makers (TDM). I communicated frequently with them to convey
the design intent and perfect the fixture. I found TDM workers to be extremely helpful as well,
as they suggested improvements and better material call-outs. Finally, I learned a valuable lesson
while ordering wave springs through one of Warn’s corporate purchasers. Somehow the springs
got lost after being delivered because I forgot to pick them up. Fortunately, several employees
joined in a manhunt and the parts were found.
Vantage 4000 Brake spring investigation
I helped brainstorm and explore various solutions to a reoccurring problem of Vantage 4000
brake spring failure. After determining that excess drive shaft vibration was a likely cause of the
spring failure, several ideas were considered. Ultimately, my idea of using a bushing to constrain
axial vibration was realized and tested.
Vantage motor/gear train performance
After multiple Vantage winches have had problems being over powered, I worked with my team
to determine exactly how our motors and gear trains were performing. Previously, data from
motor suppliers was inconsistent with test results, and no current process was in place to measure
gear train efficiency and variation. Our team worked together to design a test that would
accurately assess both motor and gear train efficiency, while I worked with past data to design
models that would convert standard catalog data to motor torque and speed.
Vantage 2000 cost down
I worked with my team to explore various cost down opportunities that would not sacrifice
performance of the Vantage 2000 winch. This project included testing a ring gear material
change, designing a less costly integrated fairlead, and ultimately implementing a steel hawse
fairlead that already was being used on utility winches. Additionally, I worked on a design and
communicated with suppliers to allow the drum to be molded from plastic.
Vantage 2000 housing failure
After several Vantage 2000 winches had reports of cracked housings, several solutions were
explored. It turned out that the plastic gear housings were cracking after the winch had stalled.
While finding a solution, I personally conducted several tests to determine the best solution.
Ultimately, the solution involved calling out small radii in the housing drawing and reducing
efficiency of the winch by removing bushings from planet gears. I also implemented all changes
through the ECN process and created the necessary parts to make the change.
Vantage 3/4000 housing failure
Similar to the Vantage 2000 failures, the 3000 and 4000 winches were failing because of too
much power. Once again, several solutions were explored. These included 3rd
stage sun gear
material changes and stress analysis, where I was able to learn more FEA techniques. I also
supported multiple tests with different solutions, and implemented changes that ultimately
prevented failure from occurring.
Vantage drum support update
I worked to update all vantage winches with a new drum support that more effectively
transferred torque from the gear train to the gear housing and bolt pattern.
After reports of over powered Pro Vantage winches from OEM customers, I supported testing
and investigation of powering down the Pro Vantage 3500 winch.
Series 18 refresh
In order to accurately assess the cost of a Series 18 winch for industrial use, a costed BOM had
to be made. I worked with my team to build multiple BOM’s from various already existing
winches. I also helped my mentor with a thermal analysis problem involving the roller clutch
brake to determine heat build-up during braking.
I continued to apply knowledge from school while creating a house of quality for a new winch
product. This involved determining and relating customer and engineering requirements. Next,
more in-depth requirements were set for each module of the winch. I also helped brainstorm
design concepts and worked to model various ideas.
My experience at Warn has given me much more than I could have ever imagined. I improved
my skills and knowledge in every way possible. While successfully applying my knowledge
from class, I was able to positively contribute to my team and the company. At the same time, I
acquired first-hand experience and knowledge of the manufacturing process, Industry standards,
company interactions, culture and processes, and much more. I was able to drastically improve
my drafting abilities, as well as gain valuable CAD modeling experience. Not only did I embrace
creativity in designing an entirely new product from scratch, I also learned communication skills
and how companies interact externally and internally. I am extremely grateful to have had this
experience, as I know that I would never be able to gain this knowledge from classes alone. I
truly believe that I am a better engineer and more knowledgeable person because of my time at
Aside from this experience benefitting me, I have made a positive contribution to Warn. The
Universal Plow Mount that I designed is expected to generate approximately $500,000 in gross
revenue in a typical 3-5 year product cycle. This provides Warn with a bottom line profit of close
to $175,000 over the same time period. Additionally, post-release Vantage line issues caused
losses of over $300,000 per month to Warn. Fortunately, these were resolved as quickly as
possible with my help. V2000 cost down efforts that I assisted lead to a $10 decrease in cost per
winch, this saves Warn over $100,000 per year while maintaining the same profit.
ATV – all terrain vehicle
BOM – bill of materials
CAD – computer aided design
CAR – corrective action report
DFMEA – design failure mode and effects analysis
DVP&R – design verification & validation plan & report
ECN – engineering change notice
FEA – finite element analysis
NPI – new product introduction
OEM – original equipment manufacturer
RDW – request for deviation/waiver
RFEA – request for engineering analysis