Supplier innovations survive 'meat grinder'
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
After acknowledging her engineering team, she thanked partner and customer Toyota Motor Corp., saying PPG's PACE Award-winning Super High Power Electrocoat was "their idea," which PPG developed. The innovation offers a more uniform vehicle electrocoat; previous systems applied excess electrocoat to exterior surfaces in order to ensure that interior surfaces received enough.
"We can't do anything on our own," Niekamp said, because "what works in the labs doesn't necessarily work in the plant."
Those themes were repeated frequently during the evening: gratitude for recognition of innovation, especially during recent hard times, and appreciation for collaboration with automakers.
More than 30 winners, finalists and honorable-mention recipients were honored at the 16th annual event, held here at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Sixteen innovations were honored with Automotive News PACE Awards. Four Innovation Partnership Awards were given to suppliers and vehicle makers that collaborated to develop an innovation in ways neither could have done alone.
PACE stands for Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contributions to Excellence. The 2010 Automotive News PACE Awards was co-sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Transportation Research Center Inc. SAE International and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association joined as sponsors this year.
Andrew Brown Jr., 2010 president of SAE International, saluted the finalists and honorable-mention companies, saying, "You are why the auto industry, and especially the automotive supply industry, continues to set the bar high."
Several top supplier executives attended the event, including Tatsuhiko Izumi, president of Clarion Co.; Tim Leuliette, executive chairman of Dura Automotive Systems Inc.; Jose Maria Alapont, CEO of Federal-Mogul Corp.; Eric Showalter, CEO of Meridian Lightweight Technologies Inc.; Bill Kozyra, CEO of TI Automotive Ltd.; and Richard Derr, CEO of Rieter Automotive North America Inc.
In contrast, Jim Pakkala, an engineering manager, accepted the award for Durr Systems Inc."I'm a member of the research team," not part of Durr's executive management, he said. "We're very lucky to be working for a company that's dedicated to engineering and innovation."
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