Suppliers' PACE contributions: Cleaner, safer, more efficient cars
DETROIT -- The internal combustion engine just keeps getting better, a trend embraced by the 2012 Automotive News PACE Award judges last week.
Three of the nine PACE product awards, announced at a black-tie event here, recognized new ways to squeeze performance and efficiency out of the venerable auto engine, now deep into its second century.
PACE honors the game-changing innovations of automotive suppliers. And the 32 finalists and 14 winners promised a future of cleaner, more efficient and safer cars, manufactured more sustainably.
Coaxing improvements out of the industry's mainstay powerplant requires patience, various PACE winners said. To reach the production line, an innovation typically takes relentless engineering teamwork, testing and an efficient production method.
"With innovation, it takes time," said Kurt Kirsten, vice president of r&d at the engine systems division of Schaeffler Technologies, at the ceremony. Schaeffler and Fiat Powertrain started working on a new method for hydraulic variable valve lifting about 10 years ago. The first production application was in the Alfa Romeo MiTo in 2009.
Another winning innovation, Lear Corp.'s solid-state junction box, replaces fuse and relay boxes. Gerard Grabowski, Lear's director of junction box development in North America, said the project started in 2004 and reached production in 2011.
Besides the supplier awards, the PACE judges honored automakers for especially effective collaboration with a supplier on a PACE finalist.
The two Innovation Partnership awards involved improvements to the internal combustion engine. Fiat Powertrain, Chrysler Group and Schaeffler Technologies worked on bringing the variable valve lift system to Chrysler vehicles.
And Ford Motor Co. was honored for working with Dana on a device that warms up engine oil to reduce friction and improve fuel economy.
The 18th annual Automotive News PACE Awards were sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Transportation Research Center Inc.
Turbochargers are prime tools for improving an engine's power and efficiency, and both BorgWarner Turbo Systems and competitor Honeywell Turbo Technologies earned awards.
In the manufacturing process category, Delphi Automotive and Federal-Mogul each won for devising new ways to manufacture components of the internal combustion engine.
Federal-Mogul's award was for ultrasonic testing of diesel pistons. Delphi won for a method to fold aluminum to create fluid channels for a condenser, replacing heavier extruded channels.
Delphi was the night's only double winner. Delphi also won for a method, called an L-Shape crimp, to attach connecting terminals to extremely thin 0.13 mm² wire. This allows wire harnesses to use the ultrathin wire to shed weight.
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