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2003 Finalists


  1. Decome

    Composite Running Board

    This molded running board not only costs less than conventional running boards, it is half as light. The one-piece board, which consists of 60 percent polypropylene and 40 percent long-glass fiber composite material, reduced the need for secondary assembly operations and gauges. Decoma teamed with Ford Motor Co. on the 2002 Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Cab pickups to realize weight savings of about 30 pounds per vehicle.
  2. Delphi Delco Electronics Systems

    Forewarn® Back-up Aid

    The Forewarn Back-up Aid is a radar-based system that assists drivers in detecting objects when backing up. It also aids in tight parking situations. The system relies upon a radar system patented by Delphi.
  3. Dupont Automotive Coatings

    SuperSolids Ultra-Low Emissions Technology

    SuperSolids represents a technological breakthrough in ultra-low emissions coatings. DuPont’s innovation increases the solids content of paint from an industry-best standard of 50 percent to 65 percent while reducing solvent emissions by more than 25 percent. SuperSolids is used in the clearcoat finishes on Dodge Durango SUVs at DaimlerChrysler’s Newark, Del., assembly plant, where paint odor has been cut in half.
  4. Brembo S.p.A.

    CCM Disc

    CCM – short for composite ceramic material – is an innovation designed for Ferrari Formula One cars. But it found its way on the Italian automaker’s Enzo supercar and is migrating downward. These carbon fiber brake discs weigh 30 percent less than cast-iron units and can last the life of a vehicle, showing nearly no fading or deforming under stress. The result: A maximum level of safety and comfort with improved product performance.
  5. Siemens VDO Automotive

    Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

    Siemens VDO’s innovation, called TireGuard, is an electronic system that constantly updates the driver on the vehicle’s tire pressure at each wheel and warns of potentially unsafe situations due to low pressure. The technology can detect small changes in air pressure through a continuously transmitted signal that provides real-time updates whether the vehicle is parked or moving.
  6. TRW Automotive

    Electric Parking Brake (EPB)

    The Electric Parking Brake doesn’t rely on levers or cables. The innovation is an integrated system that works with the vehicle’s computer system. The benefit: Space is freed for other vehicle features and options, and the parking brake is automatically applied and released at the proper time.
  7. Intermet Corporation

    Aluminum Pressure-Counter-Pressure Casting for Automotive Structural Applications

    Intermet has developed a process that allows aluminum to be cast quicker and in higher volume than in the past, making it a good choice to replace traditional iron castings. Its Pressure-Counter-Pressure Casting innovation uses a combination of pressure and counter-pressure to control mold filling.
  8. Southwest Research Institute Division of Engine & Vehicle Research

    Virtual Vehicle Transmission Test Cell (VVTTC)

    Southwest Research Institute has developed a test apparatus that can simulate real-life vehicle powertrain operations in the laboratory. Engineers built a system that simulates the operation of a transmission; other systems are planned to test engines, components and hybrid vehicle battery packs.
  9. Delphi Corporation

    Lean Automated Plastic Injection Molding

    Delphi’s Lean Automated Plastic Injection Molding System combines leading-edge component software tools and networking capabilities to automate and control manufacturing processes closely. Every manufacturing stage is monitored and verified, resulting in a decrease from an industry average of several hundred parts per million defects to four.
  10. Delphi Product & Service Solutions


    DS800 is a wireless information device that connects to a vehicle’s on-board computer to pinpoint engine or electrical faults. The innovation gives technicians instant access to updated service information, electronic parts catalogs and online technical support, which improved services bay efficiency while reducing repair times.
  11. Manugistics, Inc.

    Supplier iHub

    When automakers and their suppliers work from delayed or obsolete data, the result is poor materials planning and excess or unbalanced inventory throughout the supply chain. Manugistics’ iHub connects all tiers of the supply chain, giving each party the visibility and monitoring capability to minimize delays. The result: dramatic reductions in parts shortages, lead times, and inventory and shipping costs.
  12. 3M Automotive< Winner!

    Solar Reflecting Film

    3M’s SRF (solar reflecting film) is a member of a family of multi-layer optical films developed and manufactured by 3M for a wide variety of applications, including, significantly, automotive ones.

    Solar reflecting glass surfaces are becoming an increasingly important factor in improving vehicle passenger comfort, as well as in adding to fuel economy in air conditioner-equipped vehicles. 3M has introduced solar reflecting film (SRF) as a component of the glass laminate to replace metal-based material that has been in use for several years for this purpose. Reflective systems significantly reduce solar (infrared) load from entering and building up in a vehicle through glass surfaces, and can reduce passenger compartment cool-down time by up to a fifth, and interior temperatures by 5-10° centigrade.

    Glass laminate reflective systems are becoming more prevalent in Europe, where fuel costs are high, as air-conditioning becomes more popular while emphasis on fuel efficiency become more important. This pressure is felt equally strongly both from an economic and from an environmental point of view. Prior to the development and marketing of 3M’s SRF, the reflective shields or barriers used in glass have been metal-based, with the inherent disadvantages of coloring and corrosion issues, limited glass design capabilities, as well as likely interference with in-vehicle communications systems, e.g. radios, phones, etc. The metal-based materials that have been standard are being replaced by SRF at no price premium, nor is any capital investment required by glass manufacturers’ facilities.

    The 3M solar reflecting film is being utilized on BMW 7-series backlights, and is contracted for several other European vehicle programs already. Because existing European market demand for this product’s technology is greatest, Europe will be 3M’s lead market for this feature. The Japanese market is being pursued as well, to be followed by the United States. Further automotive applications, such as side glass, represent significant continuing growth opportunities for this innovative product, as well as many proprietary, commercial, non-automotive ones.

  13. Delphi Corporation, Delphi Energy & Chassis Winner!

    MagneRide variable suspension damping

    MagneRide suspension damping represents a new approach to high performance, semi-active suspension control systems. As in predecessor systems, it is superior to conventional dampers, in that it responds in real time to variations in road and driving conditions, and reduces the need for designers to make the traditional trade-off between ride comfort on the one hand and handling performance on the other or go to an active system. MagneRide provides a new standard of performance that exceeds earlier valve-based semi-active systems across all dimensions: bounce, rebound, stability, rolling smoothness, impact feel, impact noise, coarse road isolation, wheel control, and “wow factor.”

    MagneRide’s extreme damping bandwidth and high-speed reaction time are due to its innovative use of magneto-rheological fluid and computer-controlled electro-magnets to alter damping rates instantaneously. MagneRide adjusts damping rates in as little as 5 milliseconds, based on input from sensors that monitor body and wheel motions, and other inputs, such as steering wheel position. Supported by sensors and improved software algorithms, this suspension can respond in real time to a variety of road conditions to provide an unprecedented combination of comfort and performance, at a price. MagneRide is superior to mechanical, valve-based semi-active dampers, providing the fastest-reacting suspension system with the widest range of damping control adjustment, and at low rates of suspension movement and deflections.

    Aside from its performance benefits, the single-tube MagneRide unit is much simpler and more easily manufactured than the valve-based semi-active units that it replaces, leading to better consistency, less scrap, and ultimately lower cost compared to other advanced suspensions. The magneto-rheological fluid that is key to this innovative technology was developed by Delphi Research in conjunction with Lord Corporation. The hardware and algorithm development was done by Delphi. MagneRide is installed in the 2002 Cadillac STS and 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Anniversary Edition, as well as scheduled to appear in a number of other forthcoming models.

  14. Federal-Mogul Corporation Winner!


    With ThermoQuiet, Federal Mogul brings innovation to the automotive aftermarket, with a brake pad that eliminates the usual need for a “shim” used to dampen noise, resulting in a quieter, more durable part, with high customer satisfaction and actual brand preference. Their “integrally molded insulator,” placed between the backing plate and the friction material, is a neat design concept supported by sophisticated acoustic engineering and testing capabilities. To bring it to the aftermarket required adapting the initial design and developing new manufacturing techniques to allow it to be utilized for the hundreds of SKUs that comprise an aftermarket product line.

    Product is only part of their innovation. They also applied clever marketing, from the sharp packaging of visually distinctive, silver-painted pads, to sales made directly to service providers, using unexpected free samples. This helped them create a distinctive, branded, premium brake pad segment, in an industry where ready entry by overseas suppliers had been pushing down prices and margins of existing products. Furthermore, ThermoQuiet really “works as advertised,” eliminating the noise that leads to repair shop “comebacks” and customer complaints in what is the single most common vehicle repair. As a result, service technicians are asking for ThermoQuiet by name. Distributors are adding new customers, helping Federal Mogul to increase penetration of its non-brake aftermarket lines.

    Finally, innovation proved central to organizational change. As an unintended by-product of two acquisitions in 1998, Federal Mogul found itself the largest global supplier of friction products. But these were spread across five companies, each with its own strategies, product specifications, and manufacturing and marketing operations. The development of ThermoQuiet helped Federal Mogul build a single team out of formerly rival organizations, across the full range of functions. Instead of a backwater business destined for divestiture, Wagner Braking is now a corporate exemplar, and its innovation process is now being carried to the rest of Federal Mogul’s aftermarket operations.

  15. Material Sciences Corporation Winner!

    Quiet Steel®

    Independent market research indicates a nearly perfect correlation between overall customer satisfaction with a car, and perceived noise level of the car (inside the car), indicating the importance of noise abatement to OEM’s in their quest for higher customer satisfaction. To this end, Material Sciences Corporation (MSC) has developed “Quiet Steel”® as the first acoustically engineered steel laminate able to be used in unibody structural panels. The product consists of a .001”viscoelastic layer bonded between two layers of cold rolled steel, all of which are laminated together.

    The manufacturing process has required numerous innovations to galvanize and laminate steel this way, economically, in coil form, in one continuous, high speed process. The viscoelastic layer is custom compounded by MSC from five families of materials. This has in practice meant the ability to dampen steel in the target sound frequencies for a specific vehicle platform. It has also allowed Quiet Steel to withstand paint ovens, deep draw stamping, and various kinds of welding operations.

    The product was adopted by an automaker, without modification to stamping, welding, or paint equipment. It allows a noise reduction system to be incorporated into the vehicle build in the body-in-white phase, which has advantages for vehicle design flexibility. The elimination of add-on noise treatments also reduces manufacturing complexity and a variety of complex fitting issues in vehicle assembly. By reducing or eliminating other noise abatement treatments, Quiet Steel significantly reduces costs and mass in the vehicle, while providing superior results, built in.

    The Cadillac CTS vehicle is the first production platform for Quiet Steel, and was launched this year utilizing Quiet Steel in the dash panel. The effectiveness of the product is a very significant 5db reduction in cabin noise, important for a luxury vehicle, with potential of greater reduction for lower cost vehicles that have fewer traditional noise abatement treatments. Several other vehicle applications and platforms are now in development for future production.

  16. PPG Industries Inc. Winner!

    Ceramic Clearcoat

    Preserving a scratch-free, high gloss finish over a longer vehicle life has challenged the auto industry for decades. One problem is acid etch, degradation of the surface by acid rain in the environment, a major factor in the phenomenon more generally known as weathering; another is scratch resistance to abrasion from many sources, not least of which is the car wash. Unfortunately, any solution comes with trade-offs in paint chemistry. A scratch resistant coating was not as environmentally resistant, and vice-versa. And chemistries which offered the best combination were not water based, so applying them released solvent volatiles from paint departments.

    All auto companies wanted a solution to this problem. Working with DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes-Benz unit, PPG’s Development Group in Allison, PA, developed Ceramic Clearcoat technology. Ceramic Clearcoat uses nanotechnology to migrate silicon particles to the outer surface of the coating, creating a very thin, hard, glass-like surface. It sets a new standard for scratch resistance, at least three times better than that of any prior coatings, while maintaining excellent acid etch resistance, and with little capital expense or time required for conversion in production. The coating is sufficiently hard that new methods for testing it and for repairing it had to be developed. Ceramic Clearcoat should contribute to the preservation of a desirable high gloss for years under conditions of daily wear, even including washing of fleet vehicles.

    PPG’s ceramic clearcoat now comes in two commercial versions: Ceramiclear, a two-component clearcoat, and Certech, a single component clearcoat. Both can be applied in current water-based paint departments without new paint lines or equipment. Ceramic Clearcoat is now being applied to Mercedes-Benz automobiles.

  17. Siemens VDO Automotive Winner!

    Piezo Common Rail Diesel Direct Injection System

    With Siemens’ Piezo Common Rail Diesel Direct Injection System, the company brings an innovative first to the automotive industry. The advent of common rail direct injection had already put the industry on the path to vastly improved diesel performance. This innovation has enabled the further development of cleaner, quieter, smoother, more fuel-efficient, more powerful diesel engines, better able to meet increasingly stringent exhaust emission regulations, both in Europe and in the United States. Indeed, these are some of the issues that have kept diesel engines from being popular choices in passenger cars and most light trucks in North America today.

    Siemens’ successful development of piezoelectric actuators to control injection events in fuel injector valves has enabled diesel engine manufacturers to achieve further improvements in diesel engine exhaust emissions, increased fuel economy, and significantly reduced noise levels that Americans (now wrongly) assume are unavoidable in diesel technology.

    “Electronic Ceramics versus Diesel Mechanics.” These innovative actuators are small switching elements that utilize ceramic crystals that expand and contract very rapidly in response to changes in electric current. Competitive common rail systems all use electro-mechanical solenoid driven injector actuators, which are as much as four times slower acting. Additionally, it is easier to profile or shape multiple fuel charges or injection events with piezo technology. Injector control is the most important parameter in a diesel engine combustion process, and is what distinguishes the Siemens’ common rail fuel system from all other common rail fuel systems in production today. In an industry where PACE award winners are constantly changing the rules of the game, all of Siemens’ competitors have announced plans to begin to develop “comparable systems” quickly.

    Diesel engines inherently offer drivers improved torque, fuel economy, and other desirable performance characteristics, while requiring less maintenance and offering greater longevity over gasoline engines. As global automotive markets are increasingly demanding “greener” vehicles with improved fuel economy and performance, Siemens’ achievement in piezoelectric injection makes a significant contribution to meeting future regulatory and consumer demands.

  18. Bishop Steering Technology Winner!

    Warm Forging Die and Integrated Automatic Precision Forging Cell.

    Variable ratio steering racks are part of higher quality rack and pinion steering sets, and are desirable because they give superior steering and handling characteristics, including a positive “on center” feel, as well as improved driver safety and comfort. However, the VR rack has a complex geometry which makes it expensive to manufacture using conventional machining processes and methods.

    Bishop’s innovation was to design and develop a forging process that could produce VR steering racks, at a price and in volume, ones that surpassed the performance of conventionally machined racks. The innovation involved the refinement of the warm forging process to the point where Bishop’s forged part could successfully compete with a machined part in a critical precision application like a steering rack.

    The result is that Bishop’s VR steering racks are stronger, safer, and more durable than traditional broached racks. Due to decreased material content, minimal lubricant usage, and no finish machining, Bishop’s VR racks are also cheaper to produce. Hence, Bishop Steering Technology can enable more economical enjoyment of precision steering and driving, as a consequence of a superior way to manufacture a key component. This is a classic PACE Award case of a “better, faster, cheaper” story executed well.

    The realization of this innovation is via a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Lenkungen GmbH in Schönebeck, Germany. It allowed Bishop’s transformation out of the realm of intellectual property and invention, and into the world of manufactured reality. Bishop produces racks for, among others, Mercedes, Lincoln, and Jaguar. The process is also in use in Japan and Mexico.

  19. Dürr Industries Inc. Winner!

    RoDip 3

    E-coating has until now been accomplished by lowering a car’s body-in-white into a long tank of e-coat fluid, running it through the tank for some distance, and then raising it out again, as it progresses along a conveyor line. RoDip 3 is a clever new way of subjecting a body-in-white to an e-coat bath, and it is a good example of “simplicity for its own sake.” This improved e-coating process provides a number of significantly improved critical coating and process factors, and the innovation might be said to be simplicity itself, which results in these improvements. Once you see RoDip 3 in action, the response is, yes, of course, haven’t we always done it that way?

    “RoDip” is meant to convey roll and dip or rotation and dip, and this mechanical process does just that — the car body dives into the tank head-first, and goes through a full 360° of rotation in the tank’s fluid, then exits by rolling back up to level, and onward. This is possible whether or not the car body is on a carrier, and is very simply activated by cams, levers, and guides, the conveyor itself remaining always on a level.

    From an operating standpoint, RoDip 3 reduces the length of the e-coat tank, reduces its volume (the tank is deeper but much shorter), cuts electrical usage and heating, reduces the costs of chemicals and coatings, and maintenance (including personnel required). The line proceeds continuously without interruption or pause.

    From a process and quality standpoint, rolling a car body through a 360° rotation in the tank means improved flooding with no trapped air bubbles or pockets, much shorter drain time (the body is on a steep angle upward as it exits the tank on its way back to level), and all of the e-coat fluid rapidly drains back into the tank. Additionally, there is no conveyor interference between the car body and the fluid coating process. For the future, it will be easy to modify the process as desired, so that a tank may be bypassed altogether, adjust quickly for body type, or use for dip or spray (aluminum vs. steel).

    The RoDip 3 system was reviewed at early adopter BMW’s Munich facility.

  20. The POM Group Winner!

    RapiDIES Process

    POM’s RapiDIES process develops new molds for forming foam products in one week instead of the 6 to 8 weeks required by existing industry processes. The molds can be changed rapidly without starting over and scrapping prototypes. RapiDIES molds yield better temperature control of the foam because the cooling tubes are formed inside the mold instead of applied to the exterior mold after the fact. While the old system, using wood models and exterior cooling tubes, was cheaper if you got it right the first time, the designers were stuck with their “first best shot,” because they didn’t have time to develop second or third versions. The internal cooling channels provide better control of the stiffness properties in different parts of the seat and backs. In many cases, this also reduces cycle times in manufacture.

    RapiDIES is an innovative metal tooling fabrication process which creates unique competitive advantages for auto seating companies. It builds foam form tools directly from CAD, eliminating intermediary casting operations. As a result, foam tools are created in 1/8 the time, reducing time-to-market for new seating systems. The process improves foam performance by integrating the tooling heating system inside the tool, and it allows last minute seating design changes using a unique “adaptable” tooling concept. And finally, tooling can be hardfaced using POM’s direct metal deposition process (2002 PACE Award-winner) for improved tool strength.

    A direct-from-CAD process had never been successful before because of variation in the thickness of the sheets. POM was able to overcome this problem by using technology from FAST4M, POM’s associates. When the stack is complete, it is bolted together, machined, and the seals and coolant connections are added, at which point it’s ready for tryout. Should changes be necessary, only the sheets that are affected have to be changed. After the process is validated, the laminated tooling is hardened by the application to its surface of POM’s direct metal deposition process (itself a 2002 PACE Award Winner).

    One major seat-foam supplier is using this process under an exclusive arrangement with POM. A number of other suppliers of injection molded parts and non-automotive foam and plastic parts have also adopted the process.

  21. Robert Bosch Corporation Winner!

    Cassette Chrome Plating Process

    When Bosch was evaluating design alternatives for its new EV14 fuel injector, they wanted to improve the precision of fuel injection over a 100,000 mile lifetime. The critical component in reaching such an objective was the inlet tube, which opens and closes to admit fuel, and which would need to sustain uncompromised performance for 5×108 closures. A thin coating of chrome was the only material of reasonable cost having the durability to sustain a precision inlet tube impact surface. But besides all the other environmental hazards of plating, chrome baths emit hexachrome, toxic to workers. As a result, chrome plating is usually avoided because of these environmental and health dangers or problems. Bosch looked for a supplier that could develop a high precision, high volume, environmentally safe chrome plating process. None could be found – anywhere – so they began to develop what became their Cassette Chrome Plating internally. Their team came up with a dramatic success, an innovative process achievement in itself.

    After startup in April 2002, the first Cassette Chrome Plating unit ramped up very rapidly to a volume of 100,000 per day. This fully automated system has high uptime, and sets several new benchmarks in volume plating production. First, no other high volume system achieves the same precision in both depth and uniformity of coating. Second, this “process in a box” sets new benchmarks for emission of hexachrome; so safe and reliable that people can work in its proximity safely. Third, because of this, Cassette Chrome Plating is the only system known to be installed in the flow layout of component fabrication directly feeding assembly in a plant where cleanliness is vital to quality. Fourth, Cassette Chrome Plating was a necessary and critical element for the design of Bosch’s new EV 14 fuel injector. Additional Cassette Chrome Plating systems are being installed at other Bosch factories for similar applications.

  22. Perceptron Inc. Winner!

    AutoGauge FMS In-Process Measuring System

    At the core of Perceptron’s AutoGauge FMS is an integrated set of software that enables a flexible, robot-based, non-contact, dimension-measuring system for in-process use on any assembly line, especially where rapid inspections at numerous, difficult to access points are required. FMS stands for “Flexible Measurement System,” and indicates an intrinsic capability to configure measurement quickly for different part geometries and dynamic situations. The system has automatic alarming features, including notification via pagers, and employs web-based reporting. Workers may be alerted to dimensional variations, allowing them to determine root causes of problems and implement corrective actions rapidly where they occur.

    AutoGauge FMS has been designed to accommodate the range of automotive product inspection needs, including self-location of the robot itself. During the product launch phase, many variables affect the quality of assemblies and sub-assemblies, e.g. the dimensional integrity of the individual components, the alignment of tooling fixtures, and welding processes. During this phase, production volumes are low but the demand for measurement data is great. As production increases to full volume, the manufacturing process stabilizes and measurement focuses on key process control points. In this situation, a steady-state strategy is employed that concentrates on detection of short and long-term variations. Finally, during the course of full production in complex manufacturing, unexpected problems invariably arise. When this occurs, measurements are needed of part features that are not usually measured during every cycle. In this situation measurement routines for suspect areas must be activated to focus on the source of the problem.

    The core of the AutoGauge FMS innovation is the approach to the design and utilization of its information processing system; it is able to assimilate, analyze and act on measurement data from multiple parts with different geometries in a high production environment. Further, a single user may access all the primary system functions with a common, easy-to-use software interface. The ultimate user, ordinarily a quality control engineer, may perform all of the system functions, e.g. system calibration, measurement routine setup, temperature compensation of parts under measurement, algorithm teaching, assembly line communications, limits and alarms settings, and data analysis and reporting.

    Perceptron has integrated the many complex components of a robot-based measurement system into an effective software solution. AutoGauge FMS is not only a flexible measurement system, it provides a common user interface for control, configuration, and analysis. It is currently being utilized by BMW in both Germany and the U.S., Mercedes in the U.S., Ford in Chicago, CAMI in Ontario, and Dana Corporation in Texas.

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