DETROIT -- Custom color light-emitting diodes, a sensor that keeps the windshield free of fog and a lightweight steel muffler are three of the 11 supplier innovations that were honored with the 2006 Automotive News PACE Awards on Monday.
The winners are:
- Federal-Mogul Corp.
- ITW Shakeproof
- Magneti Marelli Controle Motor
- Osram Opto Semiconductors Inc.
- SKF Automotive Division
- Preh Automotive
- Tenneco Inc.
- Valeo Electrical Systems
- Dow Automotive
- AeroVironment Inc.
- CogniTens Inc.
Ford Motor Co. and General Motors also were honored with PACE Innovative OEM Collaborator awards for putting PACE Award innovations into use. PACE stands for Premier Automotive suppliers' Contribution to Excellence.
The supplier winners, from a field of 22 finalists, were announced at a black-tie ceremony at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges based on written nominations from the suppliers and visits to each supplier's site.
"Every winner that emerges from the rigorous Automotive News PACE Award review process is truly exceptional in the industry," said Keith Crain, publisher and editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
Ford won a PACE award for its work with AeroVironment Inc. on PosiCharge, a rapid-charging system for batteries used in electric-powered forklifts in factories. PosiCharge also was given a PACE Award. The charging system enables Ford to reduce the number of spare batteries needed, freeing up floor space for other operations.
GM earned a PACE award for working with PPG Industries Inc. on Color-Specific Powder Primer. The primer, a PACE Award finalist, has a high-gloss finish and is tinted to match a vehicle's paint color. It provides a finished look to hard-to-paint areas such as inner surfaces of trunk and engine compartments. The process was first used on the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt at GM's Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant.
Innovations in products, process and technology
PACE Awards were given for innovation in four categories -- product, product introduced in Europe, manufacturing process and capital equipment, and information technology and services.
The product winners are:
Federal-Mogul Corp. High pressures and heat can damage pistons in diesel engines. Federal-Mogul's engineers found a way to friction-weld lightweight steel components together to create a tough single-assembly piston, known as Monosteel. Manufacturing methods allow Federal-Mogul to build in generous oil galleries for better cooling and to achieve better internal support shapes for high strength. The pistons went into production on three Caterpillar diesel engines in 2003 and have since been used by John Deere and Volvo Trucks.
ITW Shakeproof, Illinois Tool Works Inc. Plastic materials "creep" over time, changing shape. That means fasteners holding plastic parts in place can loosen if they aren't backed with metal inserts or clips. Such systems are expensive to design and cumbersome to assemble. ITW has turned plastics creep into an advantage. Its BosScrew has a special feature on the thread surface that prevents the screw from loosening as the plastic creeps. The screw was first used on the Chevrolet Equinox in 2002. Lear Corp. is using the BosScrew for interior door panels on GM's GMT900 full-sized truck platform.
Magneti Marelli Controle Motor. A flex-fuel vehicle burns a mixture of gasoline and ethanol, but special and costly sensors have been needed to determine the proportion of each fuel and adjust the engine management system accordingly. Magneti Marelli has replaced the physical sensor with a powerful mathematical software model that runs in the vehicle's electronic control unit. The software uses input from existing engine and emissions sensors to gauge the proper ratio of ethanol to gasoline and adjust engine conditions continuously. The technology is now on about 70 percent of Brazil's new vehicles, including Ford, Fiat, GM, Renault, Peugeot and Volkswagen brands.
Osram Opto Semiconductors Inc. Until recently, light-emitting diode lighting was limited to just a few colors based on semiconductor materials. Osram discovered how to expand the color palate by using LED light to activate phosphor materials. GM was first to take advantage of Osram's Color on Demand technology with a special brand-image color for the instrument cluster, radio buttons and some switches in the 2006 Chevrolet HHR, Monte Carlo and Impala.
SKF Automotive Division. SKF has created a wheel bearing that puts more load-carrying capacity and an up to 70 percent increase in stiffness into the same space used for a conventional bearing. The X-Tracker unit is asymmetric, with a smaller inboard row of bearings to fit existing vehicle geometry and a larger outboard row that adds more rolling elements within a larger channel in which the bearings roll. First used on the 2004 Dodge Durango, the hub is used on all four wheels of the 2006 Cadillac STS-V.
The winners for product introduced in Europe are:
Preh Automotive. Preh has created a defogging sensor that measures relative humidity directly at the inner windshield surface and initiates defogging before the driver notices a haze forming. The sensor uses electric technology to detect moisture and temperature near the windshield. The sensor is used in all new BMW series vehicles with the automatic climate control option.
Tenneco Inc. Tenneco created a thin-wall, lightweight steel muffler that can hush the harshest engines, including diesels. Tenneco used computer-aided engineering to determine stamped irregular patterns of circles, rectangles and beads in the single-wall shell that reduce noise by up to 5 decibels and a welding assembly process that uses fewer production steps. The design has reduced muffler weight by 20 percent and saved 15 percent in steel costs compared with conventional mufflers. The muffler's first use was in 2004 in Europe on the Peugeot-Citroen D2X6 platform. It will be used by GM on a new global vehicle platform.
Valeo Electrical Systems, Valeo SA Engine start-stop function is a key fuel-saving feature of hybrid vehicles. Valeo has created StARS, a belt-driven reversible starter/alternator that allows ordinary automotive voltages to start and stop a gasoline or diesel engine by using the serpentine belt. The reversible machine replaces the normal alternator. Fuel savings range from 6 to 15 percent, depending on the type of driving. The system was launched in 2004 by PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA on the Citroen C3 Sensodrive.
The manufacturing process and capital equipment winners are:
Dow Automotive. Polyolefin plastics are strong, lightweight and recyclable, all good things for automotive applications. But the plastic doesn't want to stick together, or to glues or paints, making assembly difficult. Dow has developed Betamate LESA, a structural adhesive that can bond polyolefin materials without pretreatment or priming. Betamate LESA is being used in high volume to bond a steel upper reinforcement to an injection-molded polypropylene front carrier that was used in the 2005 VW Polo diesel sedan. Pending applications include instrument panels and bumper systems.
AeroVironment Inc. For the PosiCharge electric battery recharging system.
Also, CogniTens Inc. was the sole winner in the information technology and services category for its OptiCell 3D Noncontact Measuring System. Check fixtures are normally used to ensure that dies and machinery are making accurate parts, but the fixtures are expensive and time-consuming to make and use. OptiCell automates what used to be a manual process of using noncontact systems. Robotically operated, the cell's optical head uses three cameras to capture images of parts and assemblies. The system's software quickly produces dimensional measurement outputs, including comparisons with other parts and a part's design file. The cell can be reconfigured for many different production models.
This is the 12th year the PACE Awards have been presented. The award is sponsored by Automotive News, Microsoft, SAP and the Transportation Research Center Inc. Additional sponsors are the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, the City of Sunderland and WCSX 94.7FM.
You may e-mail Dale Jewett at [email protected]
You may e-mail Greg Migliore at [email protected]