Replacing a blown fuse at home is no fun. Replacing fuses in a car or truck with an ever-increasing array of electronics would be a major headache. But owners no longer worried about that if their vehicles had Lear's solid-state smart junction box.
Lear replaced fuses with a solid-state junction box
To commemorate 25 years of PACE Awards for supplier innovation, Automotive News each week looks back at one of the many winners.
2012: Lear Corp.
Trade name: Solid-state smart junction box
Innovation: Lear replaced fuses, relays and more with a simplified unit that could be programmed to meet different vehicles' needs.
Why it resonated: Eliminating the need for consumers to access the fuse box benefited owners, while a smaller, lighter alternative appealed to automakers.
Lear's innovation, which won a PACE Award in 2012, was a hub for a lighter and more efficient vehicle electrical system. The solid-state junction box combined fuses, relays, a microcontroller and multiple layers of interconnection in an integrated assembly. It controlled and powered electrical features such as windows and door locks, interior and exterior lighting, instrumentation and the audio system.
It also offered double failure-mode protection with self-resetting fuse technology. No more need to keep replacement fuses handy. And for that matter, no need for consumers to access the fuse box anymore.
While vehicle owners benefited from improved reliability, automakers were impressed by the box's compact size, as much as 80 percent smaller than the tangle of parts it replaced. Manufacturers also appreciated that it weighed about 70 percent less, and that the software could be configured to meet different vehicles' needs. That eliminated the need to rearrange fuses, relays and such in each nameplate, making under-the-hood design and manufacturing easier.
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