Time to apply for PACE supplier awards

Apply for PACE Awards
What: 2015 Automotive News PACE Awards, which honor supplier innovation
Application deadline: Aug. 29
To apply: autonews.com/pace
Sponsors: Automotive News, EY, Transportation Research Center Inc.
Awards presentation: April 20 in Detroit

The Automotive News PACE Awards, which honor game-changing innovation by suppliers, is accepting applications for the 2015 competition.

The application deadline is Aug. 29. Go to autonews.com/pace.

Innovation helps suppliers develop high-margin products. And without fresh ideas from suppliers, automakers would be hard-pressed to meet the myriad challenges ahead, such as rising fuel economy and safety standards.

Also hot are innovations to reduce weight, connect cars to the Internet and advance automated driving. In fact, major suppliers and automakers have opened about 15 offices in California's Silicon Valley.

"The competition for suppliers' best ideas is keen. There is a real race between all OEMs to get innovations to market faster, and that needs more trust with suppliers to become suppliers' customer of choice," says J Ferron, director of judging for PACE.

Awards are given in three categories: products, manufacturing processes and information technology. In addition, the judges give separate partnership citations to automakers for outstanding collaboration with suppliers.

"Commercializing innovation is never easy, so the PACE program celebrates engineering team efforts required within a company and with its collaborating partners," Ferron says.

An independent panel of judges reviews the applications and chooses winners. The reviews include site visits to applicants' offices, tech centers or plants.

This year, two new judges were added:

• Makoto Makino, who worked 37 years for Honda Engineering Co. From 2009-13, he served as president of Honda Engineering North America Inc. He worked on a vast array of projects for Honda, including spot-welding robots, riding simulators, laser welding, the Asimo robot, hybrid systems, jet aircraft and solar cells. He lives in Japan.

• Beth Fitzsimmons, founder of Information Strategists, which develops technical information centers, corporate information audits and online information resources. She has a doctorate in information policy from George Mason University.

Susan Helper is on sabbatical as a PACE judge this year because she was named chief economist for the U.S. Department of Commerce.