1999 PACE Finalists and Winners
GERODISC™ is ASHA Corporation’s limited slip, hydro-mechanical coupling device. Its purpose is to send torque to the wheel or wheels of a vehicle that have the most traction, thereby eliminating wheel slip. The coupling functions between the left and right wheels of a RWD or FWD vehicle and, via a GERODISC™ in the transfer case, between the front axle and the rear axle of a four-wheel and/or AWD vehicle.
The technology is a very simple solution to a very complex automotive problem: distribution of tractive capacity. The device utilizes speed differential of the wheels to generate hydraulic pressure that activates mechanical wear plates, which transfer torque instantaneously, without driver input, in a continuously variable manner, as needed. It functions invisibly to the driver and provides major improvements in traction and handling characteristics.
The device replaces more expensive, complex, heavier systems and provides breakthrough performance in virtually all drive systems. It is estimated that the device can save OEM’s 55 pounds and $75 per vehicle over alternate systems, with even larger potential savings due to elimination of current FWD architecture. The device can function as a stand-alone traction control and stability device or be integrated with current and future electronic systems.
The technology has been licensed to several Tier One suppliers and is commercially available on the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee under the Chrysler name “Vari-Lok”™ in their “Quadra Drive II” ™ system. The vehicle won “4 x 4 Vehicle of the Year” and the system is Automobile Magazine’s Technology of the Year, now regarded as the benchmark in the four-wheel drive segment. GERODISC™ will be introduced on several vehicles under various names in the next few years, and is clearly “changing the rules of the game” in drivetrain technology.
The 1999 PACE award is given to ASHA for their strategic vision in applying technology in an innovative way, against the trend to increased electronic controls, to produce a device that significantly improves vehicle safety and handling.
WIN88 Rear Twist Beam Axle
Benteler, a 1998 PACE winner, knew it had to innovate to capture the Ford Windstar 98 rear axle order from another long-standing supplier. Benteler creatively drew on its history of tubular products processes and manufacturing to apply them to what was for them a new and different automotive product. By replacing the long-standard stamped U-shape crossbeam and torsion bar with a single crushed tube, Benteler significantly lowered cost to the customer, reduced weight by 9%, and improved the resulting product with increased stiffness and increased intrinsic quality by eliminating parts and welds. Key enabling innovations came from throughout the organization, ranging from engineers to a toolmaker on the shop floor, reflecting Benteler’s continuing success in fostering innovation throughout their organization.
In the process, Benteler actually improved upon a different design on the basis of which they initially won the Windstar contract. In addition, Benteler faced a last-minute engineering challenge to eliminate a warranty problem in the existing design due to excessive bending of the trailing arm. To solve this, they again were forced to innovate, working with a key outside supplier to develop a unique zone heat-treating process for flat stampings. This required finding and learning to stamp a suitable heat-treatable alloy. As befits a PACE winner, they have already been applying this innovation to a new design for bumpers, allowing Benteler to develop and market a product line in which they had no prior experience. In the course of developing this product they have thus tapped resources both external and internal, and designed proprietary equipment and processes to build a patented product.
In addition, their success with the original Windstar program has helped Benteler to win the contracts for the rear axle assembly for the Ford Escort replacement in both Europe and North America, and the front chassis/engine mount for the Chrysler Neon replacement.
CEC Consultants, Inc.
Optical Sensor Ventilation Management Systems
CEC’s Optical haze-sensor technology and ventilation management process are clearing the air and cutting costs at Ford Motor Company plants. The new optical technology complements CEC’s ventilation management process by measuring very small but visible contaminants in breathing air. This information is then used to optimize quantities of outside ventilation air and exhausts. Five Ford Motor Company plants have used CEC’s ventilation management process to cut costs by 10% to 15% while improving air quality and reducing comfort complaints. The Ford Sharonville, Ohio, plant makes use of CEC’s new optical sensor to track improvements. CEC’s ventilation management process has boosted its sales by about 25%, and CEC foresees hundreds of applications outsides of the automotive industry, as well.
Collins & Aikman Automotive Fabrics Group
Velflex™ stretchable woven velour fabric
Velflex is a flexible, stretchable, woven velour fabric, suitable for use on today’s high-contour automotive seats. Controlled shrinkage of specially heat-treated filaments provides the finished fabric with stretch characteristics similar to those of a kint fabric. A back coating with required elasticity was developed at the same time. Velflex is in use in one 1998 line, with 15 more programs in the pipeline for model year 2001. Especially impressive to PACE judges was Collins & Aikman’s recognition of the four employees who developed Velflex, indicating a corporate culture that supports and rewards innovation.
Dana Corporation Modules & Systems Group
Dana describes its Rolling Chassis as the most complex module ever supplied to an OEM for light-duty application. It incorporates more than 200 components from 66 suppliers, including the frame, front and rear axles, driveshaft, suspension, steering system, brakes, fuel tank, electrical circuits, wheels, and tires. The aptly named module is currently used by Chrysler in Campo Largo, Brazil, for the Dodge Dakota, providing reduced plant investment, inventory investment, number of suppliers to manage, and time-to-market. The contribution made by Dana to this relationship goes beyond the value contained in the components. It also includes many aspects of overall program management, including worldwide logistics, engineering change management, warranty administration, and Tier 2 scheduling and development.
Delphi Automotive Systems – Delphi Chassis Systems
Galileo™ brake system
Delphi’s Galileo advanced brake system was first used on the EV1 vehicle. It is a brake-by-wire system that provides all the advanced functions (ABS, traction control, and dynamic proportioning and regenerative braking) through a closed-loop, electrically activated system. The innovation includes a rear electric brake, an automatically applied and released parking brake, metal matrix composite drums, a brake-by –wire controller, and a pedal-feel emulator. It eliminates some traditional brake parts such as the vacuum booster, rear hydraulic lines, and parking brake cables. The combination of a pedal-feel emulator and brake-controller logic allows the system to be tuned electronically to provide the desired feel of a conventional brake system.
Delphi Automotive Systems, Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems
E-STEER™ electronic steering
Delphi’s Saginaw Steering unit is successfully commercializing a breakthrough system, E-STEER™, a full-performance, total steering system that is driven electronically, using brushless motors to provide the power assist.
By eliminating all hydraulics and using an electric motor for the power assist, E-STEER™ provides a number of innovative benefits: relatively easy tuning of all steering characteristics, even at the consumer level; variability in the design of power steering packages and their configuration and performance; “engine off” steering assist capability, since the system uses the vehicle’s battery as its power source; fuel consumption savings; and the elimination of hydraulic fluids, seals, pumps, and hoses, meaning simplified manufacturing, weight-savings, and environmental benefits.
E-STEER™ has now gone beyond prototype concepts and steering-assist systems. It is being commercialized in Europe on the Opel Gamma S 4300, the VW 119, and the Fiat 188. In North America it has been selected for the new GM delta platform, on which Sunfire and Cavalier cars will be built. These applications will mean about two million units.
This innovation has been enabled by unrestricted engineering vision and by continuing creative uses of brushless motors and microchip and software capabilities and designs.
The initial E-STEER™ system is positioned to lead to new opportunities in the future for Delphi-S, including potential eventual use with collision-avoidance and drive by wire systems of the future.
PremAir® Catalyst System
Vehicles equipped with the PremAir catalyst system, such as the new Volvo S80, become part of the fight against environmental pollutants. When used on the surface of a car’s radiator, the PremAir catalyst promotes a chemical reaction to destroy ozone in the air that passes over it, converting about 75% of it into oxygen. This effect will continue beyond 100,000 miles, and does not otherwise affect vehicle operation. PremAir is the first technology that enables vehicles to destroy pollutants already present in the air. The first commercial order was for 33 natural-gas-powered buses in Palm Springs, Calif. Engelhard also pioneered the three-way catalytic converter.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
“Run Flat” Eagle F1 GS EMT tire technology
Goodyear has developed passenger car run-flat tire technology to the point that it is now commercially viable to eliminate the spare tire, jack,and extra wheel in a new car, providing numerous safety, security and weight and space-saving advantages to consumers, without special wheels. New Chevrolet Corvette and Plymouth Prowler models are so equipped.
The Goodyear Eagle F1 GS EMT is uniquely capable of being fitted on standard, conventional wheels, and is rated to run up to 200 miles at 55 mph, with zero inflation pressure. Vehicle handling and maneuvering characteristics are virtually unchanged in the run-flat condition. Run Flat equipped vehicles are also equipped with low-pressure warning systems visible to the driver.
The technology, in principle, is simple. After many years of attempts by various tiremakers, the supporting technology at Goodyear is the development by Goodyear of specially formulated and controlled rubber reinforced sidewalls strengthened to permit an unchanged tire profile without air inflation. Depending on applications and desired run characteristics, the sidewall content can be varied allowing a range of performance levels.
The safety, security, and convenience of not being immobilized along the roadway is a significant consumer advantage that is consistent with the innovation implicit in the PACE award. This technology revitalizes Goodyear’s image as an innovation leader, one that develops new products in anticipation of the manufacturer’s and consumer’s needs and desires.
With the increased interest in safety, convenience, cargo space, weight-saving, and energy conservation, Goodyear is committed to extend applications to a number of other models for after-market fitting and further uses of the technology.
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Comfort Engineering Laboratory
The goal of Johnson Controls’ Comfort Engineering Laboratory is to engineer comfort in seating and the arrangement of interior modules. The facility is equipped with scientific tools to optimize interior comfort, including an elaborate driving simulator- the only one of its kind in the auto industry today capable of measurements up to 50hz. Drivers can test (with precise measurement) a variety of interior features, from seating to switches, sound, even the use of cup holders. Developed by Johnson Controls and cross-industry consultants for use by customers, the lab became fully operational in 1998.
In-Process monitoring in assembly tools
LMI (Laser Measurement International) SAMI developed in-process, laser-triangulation vision sensors for close-in use in a welding environment to determine dimensional process and stability or to detect any unintended variations. This innovation – workable in a very hostile environment on sheet metal while in process- has reduced scrap and needed floor space, improved tooling maintenance, and provided data for continuous improvement. An alternative to checking at the end of a line or coordinate measuring machines, this system can also monitor a variety of different parts of shapes. It has essentially been designed for the automotive industry from applications for automotive sheet-metal assembly processes, which are historically very congested.
RHP Highway Parallelogram Trailer Air Suspension System
Meritor’s RHP Highway Parallelogram Air Suspension system has changed the basis of competition in this rapidly growing segment of the trailer suspension industry, and merits a PACE Award.
Meritor’s innovation is a compact and light-weight suspension system that utilizes a revolutionary design, eliminating the traditional trailing arm suspension, replacing it with a tandem suspension system, producing a parallel movement of the trailer’s air springs. This in turn has allowed for the integration of a more efficient slider and single unified frame bracket, which, with Meritor’s other existing undercarriage components, such as axles and brakes, can now be configured and delivered to the customer as a complete “bolt-on suspension system,” as opposed to the current industry practice which generally requires final assembly of each air suspension system ordered.
Meritor’s innovative system also results in dramatic safety and handling improvements. These include the elimination of “dock-walk” while the trailer is being loaded or unloaded by forklift, under improved safety conditions, as well as the elimination of back slap, axle roll torque, and diving and hopping while braking when the trailer is being operated on the road. The improved handling and control characteristics result in significantly improved driver safety and comfort, as well as reduced wear and stress on the equipment. The new design is also easier to service, reducing operating, maintenance, and repair costs. The new design’s reduction in overall weight also lowers daily operating fuel costs and increases equipment flexibility, permitting greater loads and lowering back haul costs.
Working closely with major truck OEMs, Meritor has gained rapid market acceptance for its new suspension system and created a unique and commercially beneficial product for their customers.
Motorola Semiconductor Products
MPC555 PowerPC microcontroller
Motorola’s Transportation Systems Group has designed a new, powerful, highly-integrated, controller chip, the MPC555, for powertrain control in automobiles, addressing future needs in performance, fuel-efficiency, and emissions. It is indeed innovative, commercial, and it changes the rules of the game. Expectations of functionality in engine controllers will change as a result of this innovation.
Because of its flash memory, a single engine controller, the MPC555, can support engine types from 4 to 12 cylinders, in gasoline, diesel, or hybrid vehicles. Software unique to engine type can be “installed” after the controller is mounted in the vehicle. Additionally, the flash memory means reduction in number of controllers needed for multiple vehicle types, reduced time to market, flexibility in recalling or upgrading engine control characteristics, and reprogramming at the dealer level. Previously, software that runs engine control systems resided in read-only memory (ROM); this device permits subsequent installation of new options, and is still cost-competitive.
In addition, the MPC555 is unique in that even with its flash memory, it will still operate at temperatures up to 125˚ C, so it may be used in harsh, automotive applications and environments, inside an engine compartment or housed inside a transmission, for example, where it need not take up real-estate in a dedicated housing.
The MPC555 means for Motorola and its customers the production of one standard product usable in a wide variety of vehicles and circumstances, thus avoiding the complexity of manufacturing, inventory, and delivery problems that come with production of a large number of custom devices for many different customers. The new controller has met all the demands of its early commercial adopters, while setting new price-performance standards, and indeed merits a PACE Award.
NRI Industries, Inc.
Symar T elastomer
Responding to the growing demand for recycled content in automotive materials, NRI Industries developed Symar T, a hybrid polyolefin-based thermoplastic elastomer, containing up to 60% post-consumer, tire-derived rubber. Symar T combines the processing characteristics and product applications of plastic with the performance advantages associated with rubber: part flexibility, thus allowing ease of installation; sound absorption vs. a sound barrier; and higher cold-weather impact. Its processing traits allow Symar T to be injection molded, thermoformed, vacuum formed, blow molded, or extruded. Symar T can also be painted or accept inline film application; its rubber content does not impair normal adhesion properties. Symar T has proved itself to be a versatile and cost-effective alternative that contributes positively to environmental and recycling considerations for the benefit of both society and industry.
Petoskey Plastics, Inc.
The three-layer Slip-N-Grip® protective seat coves – originally developed in 1983 for Ford for use during manufacturing – now incorporate the use of post-consumer recycled/recyclable (PCR) resin processed by Petoskey Plastics. The PCR resin – recycled from plastic film waste otherwise destined for landfills – is extruded and sandwiched between the inner and outer layers of Slip-N-Grip protective seat covers, which are, in turn, recyclable. As designed and shipped, the seat covers eliminate the need for floor space and warranty cleaning costs caused by grease transferred from seating tracks to seat surfaces. Although Ford remains the NO. 1 user of the PCR-content seat covers, Petoskey Plastics is in the launch phase of a closed-loop recycling program with Chrysler, which will recycle 620,000 pounds of plastic film waste annually.
Extending the Capabilities of Powdered Metal Parts
Stackpole has created high load-bearing powdered metal parts, with a more complex geometry than can be economically machined from conventional forgings, at a cost savings of 30-40%. This innovation enlarges the envelope for complex mechanical component design at costs comparable to those of simple geometry parts.
An example of such a part is the Gemini sprocket now used on GM 4T65 and 4T40 front wheel drive transmissions. The phased-tooth design is pressed in a unique split die, and the load-bearing surfaces are hardened with Stackpole’s SelectDens™ process. The phased-tooth design reduces transmission noise, while eliminating the use of an extra sleeve bearing. Without the new Stackpole powdered metallurgy processes, such a design would be feasible only at a high premium cost.
This innovation included several process stages, beginning with customized powder formulation. The Stackpole SelectDens™ process promises not only to make powdered metal parts cost-competitive with existing heat treated, low alloy steel components, but to improve cost and performance of the subassemblies in which they are used through more imaginative overall design.
SelectDens™ and other process innovations have resulted from an ongoing fifteen year program in powdered metal R&D, a competence in which Stackpole intends to remain a leader. They are enthusiastically developing further innovations in powdered metallurgy, and their award-winning technology should enable their customers to create award-winning designs for some time to come.
Teleflex Automotive Group
Adjustable Pedal System
Teleflex stands out as a place where creativity is permanently on the executive agenda and where that emphasis has transformed the company from an old-line cable maker to a cutting-edge developer of automotive technology.
Teleflex wins a PACE Award for one such innovation — its patented adjustable pedal system. The system allows drivers of shorter stature to move the accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals closer to the driver, while permitting the driver to maintain normal or desired seating position and optimum body positioning, and without altering pedal deployment action or angle. This allows or insures safer air bag deployment, safety restraint system effectiveness, and steering wheel and instrument panel control access, while enhancing comfort, especially on long drives. The pedal adjustment is accomplished as a motor drives the pedal mechanism along a rod toward the driver, all the while maintaining the pedals’ relative positioning to one another.
While the basic pedal system was acquired in the strategic purchase of Comcorp in 1997 by Teleflex, the principal inventors subsequently developed the device further, creating significant refinements that streamlined the system, leading to a number of patents, and its adoption as standard equipment on the 1999 Lincoln Navigator and as optional equipment on other models. With demand surpassing 260,000 units by the end of 1999, the adjustable pedal mechanism has been well received for its innovative safety, comfort, and convenience benefits.
Importantly, the adjustable pedal mechanism also serves as a cornerstone in Teleflex’s own transformation as a company. With 70-80 patents won annually in recent years, Teleflex is positioned to build on its adjustable pedal technology with more new products in the near future. Its strategic alliances with organizations such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA help keep Teleflex in a good innovative posture, a model for automotive industry innovation.
Textron Automotive Company, Inc. – Textron Automotive Trim
ATPU instrument panel cover material
Textron has developed a new instrument panel cover material that can replace the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) commonly used for soft instrument panels. Aliphatic thermoplastic urethane (ATPU), is more durable than PVC and can accept laser scoring on the backside. This score line allows for an invisible passenger-side inflatable restraint “escape” tear line, rather than a separate unsightly escape door on the instrument panel surface. ATPU can be cast molded using existing PVC cast molding equipment. Textron Automotive Company uses its patented MinibeadTM process to manufacture ATPU, which reduces costs and optimizes the cast molding process. This innovation appears on the 1998 Chrysler LH programs, which consists of the Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, LHS, and 300 series vehicles.
Textron Automotive Company Inc. – McCord Winn Textron
ASCTec (Active Surface Control Technology) is a microprocessor-controlled surface of segmented air cells that can be configured into an automobile seat back and bottom. ASCTec senses, compares, and makes adjustments automatically to reduce pressure points and improve position of the occupant and the comfort of the seat. Responding to industry requests for memory functions in lumbar support, McCord Winn Textron believes that seats designed for the health and comfort of each occupant must be customized and therefore dynamic to each individual. ASCTec can be found on the 1998 Cadillac Seville STS, and is now being developed with other OEMS.
Transmission Technologies Corporation
AMT-7 truck Transmission
For many years, a cost-effective, reliable alternative to an automatic transmission has been needed for use in medium-duty trucks. Based on Transmission Technologies’ mechanical, synchronized seven-speed transmission, the AMT-7 is a new automated mechanical transmission that has no clutch pedal, and only a PRNDL shifter. The unit smoothly performs both shifting and clutch operations for the driver, enabling even those who are not professionally trained truck drivers to operate them. Product launch was scheduled to be completed by January 1999 for use by several manufacturers in a number of fleets.