1998 Finalists

1998 Finalists

  1. Benteler Automotive Corp. Winner!

    Thermally Efficient, Air-Gap Manifold and Exhaust Tube Applications, Parts and Systems

    Recognizing the need for improved thermal management to reduce emissions and under hood temperatures, Benteler pioneered the design and manufacture of airgap, or dual-wall, exhaust manifolds. The innovation for this year’s PACE Award is a dual-wall manifold design that provides a thin, de-coupled liner with low thermal mass and rapid energy transfer to the catalytic converter. This enables reduced cold-start emissions due to improved “light-off” times, thereby avoiding more costly emission reduction technologies, decreased catalyst size and precious metal content, and reduced overall system size and costs. The first application is in the Cadillac Northstar engine.

    Development of this innovation required extraordinary “synchronous engineering” between the customer and Benteler’s experts in tool and die, stamping, engineering, hydroforming, and manufacturing areas. This coordinated effort provided immediate assurance that tight-tolerance designs were process-capable, on time, and within all cost and performance targets. Improved durability and NVH levels were achieved simultaneously.

    Reflecting their customers’ overwhelming acceptance of this technology and associated end-products, Benteler is fully and strategically committed to air-gap systems, moving to nearly 100% production of those manifold products in the near future. Benteler’s culture of innovation and engineering excellence are very well reflected in this air-gap system and its well-deserved PACE Award.

  2. Cooper Automotive/Wagner Lighting Winner!

    Chrysler Dakota and Durango Front Lamp Assembly and Related Manufacturing and Assembly Process

    Headlamp assemblies would appear to constitute a “mature” product and assembly opportunity. Yet the Wagner Lighting division of Cooper Industries has made innovations across virtually every facet of designing and manufacturing a front lamp assembly. Their new headlamp for Chrysler’s Dakota and Durango models will be a new industry benchmark.

    Wagner used proprietary software and rapid prototyping to provide customers with speedy feedback on feasibility and performance, shrinking the time from design to production to 18 months. In addition, the resulting assembly has fewer parts, is lighter, has higher intrinsic quality, is easier to assemble and adjust, and achieves a more accurate fit-and-finish. It does not require horizontal aiming at the assembly stage, and due to other small but clever innovations, it simply does not leak, reducing a major source of warranty claims.

    Wagner’s lamp assembly doesn’t feature whiz-bang technical breakthroughs. Rather, their collection of multiple innovations resulted in a superior product that brought significant commercial benefit to them, while exceeding customer performance expectations. The judges hold them up as a demonstration that there is still plenty of room to be innovative even in supposedly “mature” product areas.

  3. Dürr Industries Winner!

    RFC or Radiant Floor Construction Paint Oven

    Dürr has demonstrated why it is an automotive business leader. Already the global leader in paint systems for automotive assembly plants with approximately 80% of the business, Dürr has come up with a revolutionary oven design that brings new competitive and customer benefits.

    The fundamental change in the oven design is the use of the floor of the oven as the main heat source. The direct-fired air is forced through the Dürr-designed chamber in the floor to provide controlled radiant heat. Thus the products of combustion are excluded from the oven atmosphere without the need for a heat-exchanger. Air movement is kept to a minimum due to the use of radiant heat. Dürr has found that these factors have had a significant impact on reducing a big problem in paint shops, dirt and contamination associated with circulating air.

    Dürr and their customers claim significant savings in the purchase and installation of this new oven, of up to 10%, due in part to its modular design and the elimination of heat exchangers. In addition, it is estimated that operating savings will be significant in terms of costs of gas, electricity, and filters saved over conventional designs.

    Finally, and perhaps most important within Dürr’s framework of innovation, this oven design yields more uniform curing rates on a variety of different substrates, thus allowing heavy metal, light metal, aluminum, and various plastics to be cured together, in a single, simultaneous operation, solving previous problems and bringing new customer benefits. This innovative way of curing dissimilar painted materials together merits a PACE Award.

  4. Eaton Corporation, Spicer Clutch Division Winner!

    Eaton Spicer Solo

    Market surveys and customer inquiry showed that one of the most urgently needed developments in medium and heavy duty truck fleet operation was low maintenance and adjustment-free clutches. The Eaton Corporation’s Clutch Division capitalized on the opportunity, and has put into production the Eaton Spicer Solo, the first adjustment-free clutch for medium and heavy duty truck fleets. With each push of the clutch pedal, a cam system and wear sensors check the clutch for wear and make any necessary adjustments.

    The Eaton Spicer Solo system’s wear-adjusting technology is based on two sliding cams. The clutch senses when wear calls for adjustment, and the cams rotate automatically to maintain proper adjustment throughout the life of the clutch. A wear indicator tab shows progressive cam movement, allowing easy monitoring of clutch wear without disassembly of the clutch.

    This automatic adjustment innovation eliminates the need for manual clutch adjustment, increases useful life of the clutch, since it is always in correct adjustment, and substantially reduces maintenance downtime and labor. All of these factors reduce operating expense and improve truck fleet efficiency.

    Because Eaton’s Clutch Division is organized and motivated to identify opportunities and seek competitive advantage, they were able to create a product that was unique and commercially beneficial for them and their customers. Market acceptance has been excellent in both OEM and aftermarket applications. Eaton Spicer’s Clutch Division’s ability to pay off what its customers want and need earns them a PACE Award.

  5. Gentex Corporation Winner!

    The First “Aspheric” Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror

    Gentex stands out for their sharp strategic vision combined with high-tech innovative capabilities. A PACE Award winner in 1995 and 1997, the judges recognize them this year for their aspheric auto-dimming external mirrors developed for use on Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe.

    While manufacturing auto-dimming aspheric mirrors drew upon existing electrochromic gel technologies, it also required a series of innovations to let Gentex mate two pieces of asymmetric glass at tolerances under 1/100″. Gentex faced unacceptably low yields in January 1997, but their customer, Mercedes-Benz, wanted production of 20,000 units a month by September. Gentex met these and other challenges, working with their suppliers to devise new molding techniques, developing sophisticated new in-house optical capabilities, and improving process yields.

    Also impressive is the clarity of Gentex’s strategic vision, which reflects their substantial, focused R&D commitments. Gentex can now supply auto-dimming units for all passenger car rear view mirror applications, interior and exterior, flat, convex, and aspheric. They have increased product complexity while steadily reducing prices, deterring entry while expanding their overall market. They have stuck to a mission of being the best at making mirrors, turning the 30-odd manufacturers of mirror modules from potential rivals into potential customers. They are even working to speed the regulatory acceptance of aspheric mirrors in the US. The judges are proud to present Gentex with its third PACE Award.

  6. Johnson Controls, Inc./Prince Winner!

    CorteX®, a unique, formable, energy-absorbing material for use in a car’s overhead zone

    CorteX® is a unique, formable, energy-absorbing material for use in a car’s overhead zone

    The Prince Division of JCI has actually benefited from impending government regulation. They recognized early on that a new safety standard would legislate increased energy absorption capabilities by interior trim, beginning with head impact to upper portions of a car’s interior.

    A Prince team proactively began developing an innovative solution to this legislation, which turned the problem into a success. The resulting innovation was CorteX®, an energy absorbing process and material that outperforms existing competitive impact-absorbing materials on relevant benchmarks at competitive costs, and exceeds federally mandated energy absorption standards. In addition, CorteX® is a composite blend of recycled roll fibers and thermoplastic material (PET), derived from used carpet and pop bottles, and is itself completely recyclable. Once created, CorteX® is readily formed over epoxy dies into unique, functional shapes, to become dimensionally stable parts. These can easily be shaped to incorporate wire harnesses, structural clips, lights, or other options, including hidden air passageways.

    CorteX® means both a lower-cost material and process that is applicable to other trim and energy absorbing applications, such as door panels. The thickness of CorteX® required for the energy absorption required is less than that required by conventional competitive materials, providing an interior space and visibility bonus, with no additional mass.

    The culture, environment, and product development processes at Prince have made this kind of creativity the norm, in this case resulting in the possibility of a wide variety of high quality, low cost, recyclable energy absorbing products. In changing the rules of product development and the competition, Prince has once again earned a PACE Award.

  7. Continental Design Co. and Delphi Interior and Lighting Systems’ Exterior Automotive Lighting Group.

    Interior &Lighting Systems

    The same software system behind movies such as “Jurassic Park.” “Star Wars,” “Lost Worlds,” and “Terminator II” was used by Continental Design Co., working with Delphi-I Anderson, to develop an early visualization application for automotive headlamp product development. Two software systems, Alias/Wavefront and the Delphi-I Optical Design System (ODS) were used to create a video of a typical night scene on a country road. It allows an operator to “drive” in this virtual world and “see” how the ODS-designed headlamps actually perform. Headlamp engineers also can “see” whether and how a headlamp design needs to be changed early in the product development process, saving time and tooling costs, and ultimately improving driver safety.
  8. Control Devices Inc.,

    Auto-ClearTM Rain Sensor

    Control Devices’ patented Auto-ClearTM Rain Sensor enhances existing intermittent wiper systems to improve vehicle occupant comfort and safety. Auto-Clear imitates the human eye while analyzing moisture and rate of accumulation on the windshield. The sensor immediately determines a wiper speed and automatically activates the wiper system. Auto-Clear accommodates varying rain conditions by adjusting wiper speed; its noncontact design senses fog or moisture on the interior glass and controls the vehicle’s defogger system. This unit’s attachment to the rear-view mirror allows for easy installation on the production line and easy remount if the windshield is replaced.
  9. Dana Corp.’s Plumley Division.

    Innovative manufacturing technique

    Dana’s innovative manufacturing technique eliminates three steps in the production of extruded rubber hose requiring a prescribed shape. Using this method, more than 30 hoses can now be produced in the time it formerly took to cut one hose. The technique also produces a consistent hose from run to run, eliminating the need to produce and replace the pins that were previously used to create the hose’s shape, and dramatically reducing scrap.

  10. Delphi Automotive Systems

    Delphi Chassis Systems

    Delphi Chassis Systems, in partnership with Delco Electronics, General Motors Research, GM’s Chassis Systems Center, and Cadillac, led the development team for TraxxarTM, the first North American intelligent chassis control system that enhances vehicle control and handling. This innovation can selectively release or apply braking pressure at any of an automobile’s wheels. For example, if a driver is accelerating into a left turn, Traxxar may apply the left front brake to maintain directional stability, and use the engine management system to reduce total torque at the wheels. Traxxar improves stability and directional control on snowy, icy, or rough roads and during turns and emergency stops.
  11. Delphi Automotive Systems

    Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems

    Delphi’s E-SteerTM electronic power steering is energy efficient and environmentally compatible, while offering extras such as simplified tuning, packaging flexibility, and engine-off steering assist. Unlike traditional hydraulic power-steering systems, Delphi’s E-Steer uses an electronically controlled gear-driven mechanism to provide steering assist. The design eliminates the need for power steering pumps, hoses, hydraulic fluids, and a belt-and-drive pulley on the engine, resulting in improved fuel efficiency, enhanced performance characteristics, improved safety, reduced environmental impact, and improved reliability.
  12. 6. MPW Industrial Services, Inc. – Container Cleaning Division

    High-pressure cleaning technology

    MPW developed a high-pressure cleaning technology for reusable portable paint tanks. This innovation replaces manual tank entry and scrubbing with a remotely operated, high-pressure system. The technology also reduced the number of contaminants going into the tank, resulting in a faster final rinse process. Overall lower operating costs result from less time required to clean each tank, less labor, and cleaner tanks.
  13. Siemens Automotive

    Cryptographic electronic immobilization system

    : Siemens’ theft-deterrent technology – the cryptographic electronic immobilization system – could virtually eliminate car theft. Installed during production, the system uses inductive energy to transmit a code from the immobilizer antenna to the key, which features another computer chip in the grip. If the correct code from the key is received, the antenna communicates the code to the engine-management electronic control unit (ECU) and allows the engine to be started. Each time the engine is turned off, a new random code is transmitted between the key and immobilizer ECU. The number of rolling codes is infinite, thwarting even the most sophisticated scanning devices used by car thieves.
  14. TRW – Steering, Suspension & Engine Group

    Electrically assisted steering (EAS) systems

    TRW combined its aerospace expertise with its automotive experience to develop electrically assisted steering (EAS) systems. These modular systems are ready to install, fully tested, bolt-on units, which provide performance and economic advantages not found in conventional steering systems. The product line includes: electronically powered hydraulic steering (EPHS) and electrically powered steering (EPS). Some of EAS’s benefits include cost reduction, improved assembly time/labor, decreased development time, improved vehicle steering performance/control, enhanced safety and environmental friendliness, and increased fuel economy/energy savings.

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