GM Modifies Global Manufacturing System

You’ve undoubtedly heard managers say “Our people make the difference.” While undoubtedly true, there aren’t often metrics to deal with the people side of manufacturing.

Acura Accentuates Design Focus

“We’re going to take the brand to the next level and have a much better focus on the brand in general and a good starting point for that is to build a studio and design products that are truly Acura,” says Jon Ikeda, who heads Acura design in the U.S.

Manufacturing Simulation 2.0

Implementing change can be a difficult task for any organization, big or small.

GM’s Diesels for the Globe

According to Dan Hancock, vice president of GM Powertrain’s Global Engineering, the vehicle manufacturer is adding to its extensive diesel engine capabilities (e.g., it offers, or will soon (as of ’09) four I-4 diesels, 1.3-liter (90 hp); 1.7-liter (125 hp); 1.9-liter (150 hp); 2.0-liter (150 hp); two V6s, 2.9-liter (250 hp, coming in ’09); 3.0-liter (180 hp); and two V8s, 4.5-liter (310 hp, coming in ’09); 6.6-liter (365 hp)). That’s because it is buying 50% of VM Motori S.p.A., a diesel engine designer and manufacturer based in Cento, Italy, founded in 1947.

Built To Take It

Although this may appear to be nothing more than a Panasonic briefcase, it’s actually the Toughbook 52, which Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic Computer Solutions ( describes as a “semi-rugged desktop replacement.” While described as “semi-rugged,” it is worth noting that the case is a magnesium alloy, and that the screen (15.4-in.) and the hard drives are shock mounted.

How Smart is smart?

The automotive equivalent of an e.e. cummings poem (that is, everything is written in lower case) will officially launch in the U.S. market in January 2008.

Lighting Sets the Mood

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) use little energy, have an extended lifecycle, and have outstanding color clarity.

Measuring Pressure

Although Tony Stewart had been under some pressure in the 2007 NASCAR season until he broke loose at the Chicagoland Speedway in July with his first victory, the guys in the garage of Joe Gibbs Racing have been getting some important information about the pressure between mating of surfaces through the use of a film called “Pressurex” from Sensor Products ( According to Todd Bowland, an engineer with the team, “It is providing me with a solution that is easy to use, quick, and cost effective.

Sensata Focuses on Transmission Pressure Technology

Pressure-based transmission control systems have gained in popularity, as witnessed by GM’s six-speed automatic transmission, which utilizes pressure-sensing systems to improve clutch feel and shifting performance.

Improving Quality at Ford Notch by Notch

Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, says “Successful products come from details.” So because he says that at Ford PD “We’re really focused on delivering continuously better products,” they are paying attention to the details.

Magna Shows Its Waves

After being beaten out in the bidding war for Chrysler, Magna International ( is intent on showing the world it’s ready to move forward growing its core automotive supply businesses through the development of new products and technologies.

Mercedes’ Composite Crash Structure

Bolted to the front of the 2008 Mercedes SLR McLaren Roadster chassis is a carbon fiber structure highlighted by conical side elements designed to progressively absorb accident energy.

It’s the Customer, Stupid

Think it is tough being in the auto industry?

A Safer Mobile Email

Although the Ford Sync allows text messages received by a Bluetooth-enabled phone to be “read” over a car’s audio system, USTelematics ( is taking it a step further with a new technology, Voice Interactive Voice Enhanced Email (Vivee), that reads emails or text messages through either the device’s internal speaker or through the vehicle’s audio system, complete with its own avatar animated character.

Fast Check

Looking for a way to quickly and accurately calibrate a fast-performing machine tool, robot or coordinate measuring machine?


What the Latest PLM Acquisitions May Mean to You

Three major PLM vendors were acquired in the past 15 months. Shakeout? Bigger industrial automation powerhouses? It’s all potentially good news for automotive.

Sensitive Safety From The Top Down

At least that’s the way the folks at Bosch see it. By adding sensors and interlinking active and passive safety systems, survivability increases. Just don’t expect this trend to start anywhere other than the premium sector.

Interplanetary Chassis Technology

The vehicles currently driving across the surface of Mars couldn’t accomplish their mission without the chassis that holds them together.

Supporting the Infotainment Superhighway

According to Toshiba, the market leader in automotive hard drives, on-board data storage will move from novelty item to necessary hardware within two product cycles.

Testing Means No Bum Steer

Supplying leather to the auto industry isn’t always easy or profitable, says GST Auto Leather, but by concentrating on research, development, and testing it’s possible to stay a step ahead.

Body Beautiful

Audi’s Space Frame concept isn’t all about aluminum anymore. Now there’s a new version that combines steel with aluminum to create an intriguing hybrid structure.

How Apple Has Transformed Automotive Electronics

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, he knew it would change the way people interacted with their music, what he did not know was how much the device would change the way automakers and suppliers look at in-vehicle entertainment.

On the Mercedes C-Class

Although this vehicle fits into the “entry-luxury” category, there is little evidence of the entry part of that term in the fourth-generation C-Class from Mercedes.

The Importance of MES-PLM Integration

Three major PLM vendors were acquired in the past 15 months. Shakeout? Bigger industrial automation powerhouses? It’s all potentially good news for automotive.

VW Research: Vehicle Technology for Today & Tomorrow

Issues ranging from fuels to traffic congestion are among those that are being addressed by Volkswagen researchers as the company works toward a more sustainable industry. Here is a look.


Insight: Design Wins

While some manufacturers are concentrating on cutting costs, those who are—and will be—successful in the market focus on the needs of the market, and especially on design.

Insider: Promises, Promises

What ever happened to the 18-month product cycle and 10-day vehicle delivery schedules some industry insiders had been predicting for years?

EuroAuto: Mahle’s Approach to the Global Market

This comparatively quiet company has been making various acquisitions of late, all apparently aimed at bolstering its considerable strength in powertrain.

Profiles:Bridging the Gap Between Concept and Production

Chrysler’s Dan Zimmerman has a reputation for producing texturally complex concept car interiors. Now he’s taking that experience to the production side.

Competitive Challenges: Achieving Success In China

Having a methodology for going to market in a competitive market isn’t optional, it is essential.

Marginal: Seamless

Why car companies need to make friends with consumer electronics firms.

Objects of Interest - August 2007

Conveyor Systems QC Industries’ ( Flextrac plastic chain belt conveyor system features load capacities of up to 550 lb. and speeds of up to 375 fpm, boosting overall efficiency when compared to standard flat belt conveyors, with an overall profile of just 2.4 in.

Dudder: iCarumba!

Apologies to Bart Simpson—and BMW—for thinking the iPod was the interface king, and iDrive the dud.