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CAutomotive Industry Workshop N MARCH 12-13, 1998, the Committee on Materials Science and Engi- neering: Forging Stronger Links to Users of the National Materials Ad- visory Board hosted a workshop on the linkages and exchange of infor- mation within the automotive industry. This was the third of three workshops intended to identify (1) user needs and business practices that promote or restrict the incorporation of materials and processes innovation, (2) how priorities in materials selection are determined, (3) mechanisms to improve links between the materials community and the engineering disciplines, and (4) programs (e.g., education, procedures, information technology) to improve these linkages. As shown in the agenda in Box C-1, the workshop was divided into four sessions: material selection processes, supplier perspective on alternate materials, and two sessions on alternate materials case studies. NEW MATERIALS DEVELOPMENT: INCENTIVES AND BARRIERS Automotive products are mature but will require innovative alternative mate- rials to continue to compete in the global marketplace, and equally important, to meet future societal and regulatory demands. The industry established a record of responding to these driving forces during the past two decades. For example, from 1975 to 1983 the average vehicle weight was reduced across the entire fleet by 1,200 lbs. The mix of materials used in automobiles has changed substantially in the past two decades: high-strength steels have increased from 0 percent to 11 per- cent; cast aluminum from 2 percent to 6 percent; engineering plastics from 0 percent to 10 percent; and mild steel/cast iron has decreased from 75 percent to 97
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98 MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING BOX C-1 Agenda for the Automotive Industry Workshop March 1 2,1 998 8:20 a.m. Convene and Introductions, Dale F. Stein, Committee Chair OVERVIEW: MATERIAL SELECTION PROCESSES (Ronald Shriver, Session Chair) 8:30 a.m. Ford System, C. L. Magee, Ford 9:15 a.m. GM System, R. Heimbuch, General Motors 10:00 a.m. Introduction of New Materials into Manufacturing Operations, S. Harpest, Honda 10:45 a.m. PNGV Materials Road Map, A. Sherman, Ford 11:30 a.m. Discussion SUPPLIERS PERSPECTIVE ON ALTERNATIVE MATERIALS (N. Gjostein, Session Chair) 1:00 p.m. Optimized Steel Vehicles, D. Martin, AISI International 1:45 p.m. Aluminum Intensive Vehicles, P. Bridenbaugh, ALCOA 2:30 p.m. Composite Intensive Vehicles, K. Rusch, Budd Plastics 3:15 p.m. Panel Discussion: Engineering Plastic Components, K. Browall, GE 4:15 p.m. Discussion 5:00 p.m. Adjourn March 1 3,1 998 ALTERNATE MATERIAL R&D CASE STUDIES I (R. Wagoner, Session Chair) 8:15 a.m. Tailored Blanks, J. McCracken, TWB, Inc. 9:00 a.m. Alternate Materials for Con-Rods, J. Allison, Ford 9:45 a.m. Aluminum-MMC Disk Brake Rotors, F. Buch, DURALCAN 10:30 a.m. III-V Compound Position Sensors, J. Heremans, GM 1 1:15 a.m. Titanium Applications, S. Froes, University of Idaho ALTERNATE MATERIAL R&D CASE STUDIES II (J. Busch, Session Chair) 12:45 p.m. Applications of Structural Ceramics, B. McEntire, Norton 1:30 p.m. Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Polymers in Auto Body Applications, J. Dieffenbach, IBIS Associates 2:15 p.m. Discussion: Strengths and Weaknesses of Linkages in the Automotive Industry 3:15 p.m. Discussion: Strategies for Improving Linkages in the Automotive Industry 57 percent. The use of stainless steel, magnesium, powder-metal parts, zinc- coated body sheet, ceramic honeycombs and sensors, Pt-Rh three-way catalysts, micromachined silicon capacitive pressure sensors, and cathodic electrocoating has also increased. Workshop participants identified the following strengths of the automotive industry that facilitate the introduction of new materials/processes:
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AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY WORKSHOP 99 · highly sophisticated, computer-based design techniques (e.g., computer- aided design, computer-aided engineering, and computer-integrated manu- facturing) to optimize new material concepts · rapid prototyping techniques (current and developmental) that can greatly accelerate the introduction of new material concepts · a huge capital investment in testing facilities · a large supplier base that works jointly with original equipment manufac- turers (OEMs) to develop new material concepts · a talented engineering workforce with strong materials capabilities · established links and joint programs with national laboratories and uni . . versltles industry consortia (e.g., the U.S. Automotive Materials Partnership) to establish a materials research and development (R&D) agenda a federal program, Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), which is developing a materials R&D road map Workshop participants identified the following characteristics of the auto- motive industry as barriers to the introduction of new materials/processes: a short (three to four year) product development cycle that provides regu- lar, but still somewhat limited, opportunities for the insertion of new technologies a large, established capital equipment base that is renewed only periodi- cally, which tends to inhibit the adoption of new technologies · a large existing base of knowledge in conventional materials that tends to promote the status quo · difficulty in predicting the perceived value of a new technology through cost/benefit analyses · a risk-averse design community that is leery of introducing new concepts · a rigid purchasing system that is skeptical of suppliers who do not have a track record of supplying high-quality parts in high volume IMPROVING LINKAGES The workshop participants considered many sources of new materials technol- ogy, including universities, government laboratories, joint projects with govern- ment support (e.g., cooperative research and development agreements [CRADAsi, Advanced Technology Program [ATP] initiatives), small entrepreneurial firms, primary material suppliers, parts fabricators, subsystem suppliers/full service sup- pliers, and OEM R&D laboratories. Many linkages are possible and the paths from the source of a new technology to implementation and commercial success are intimately involved with the product development and manufacturing process, which takes, on average, about three years. Efforts are under way to reduce the
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100 MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING cycle time to closer to two years. Even with the present development cycle technology must be virtually fixed at the design phase. Thus, the validation of a new technology must be completed before the decision is made to start a vehicle program because opportunities to develop concepts during the program are few. Assuming that (1) materials development takes three to five years, (2) component testing takes one to two years, (3) manufacturing scale-up takes one to two years, and (4) product cycle time is two to three years, the total cycle takes between 7 and 12 years. Universities and Government Laboratories Over the past decade, both universities and government laboratories have been more willing to work on concepts that are more relevant to industry. The major barrier in this linkage is the lack of a supplier infrastructure to supply highly reliable parts in high volume. OEMs generally do not consider themselves as developers of supplier infrastructures for new materials technology but prefer to wait until the technology and supplier infrastructure has been developed for other products. For example, the increase in components on passenger cars and trucks built from engineering plastic components (e.g., interior/exterior trim and assorted small parts) happened in this manner. The stakeholders involved in new materials developments must also try to develop a supplier infrastructure as the technology develops. Parts Suppliers Many workshop participants felt that the linkages between auto manufactur- ers and parts suppliers are very strong and, probably, the most important links. OEMs urge their lower tier suppliers to conduct R&D, either on incremental improvements to existing products or on riskier new concepts. The strongest linkages are between design and engineering activities by OEMs and corresponding activities in supplier organizations. Linkages be- tween OEM R&D activities and suppliers' R&D have been weak. Suppliers are often reluctant to conduct joint R&D projects with OEMs for a number reasons, mostly related to proprietary restrictions on research results. This situation is changing, however, as PNGV, CRADAs, and ATP initiatives are encouraging precompetitive joint R&D. Primary Materials Suppliers Primary materials suppliers of materials, such as steel, aluminum, and plastic resins, serve both parts fabricators (at all tiers) and OEMs. In the past, primary materials suppliers were not active participants in the design process. As the competition for the predominant automobile body material intensifies (e.g., steel,
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AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY WORKSHOP 101 aluminum, or plastic composites), suppliers of these materials have developed their own design activities and have indicated that they want to be involved in the OEMs' product development and design process. FINAL DISCUSSION The workshop participants agreed that materials and processing research should focus on areas that will lead to lower emissions, lower cost, greater effi- ciency, and better fuel-cell options. The PNGV program was cited as a unique industry/government partnership working toward dramatic reductions in vehicle weight and increases in performance. Many participants agreed that extensive use of lightweight materials and other advanced materials and process technologies throughout the industry will be necessary to achieve aggressive goals like those set for PNGV. Through programs like PNGV, lightweight materials could be made more attractive for high-volume automotive applications. Workshop participants identified the following factors as controlling the decision to implement a new materials technology in the automotive industry: . cost compared to the existing part or subassembly, including materials, processing, tooling and facilities, and offsets for benefits realized in other subsystems · high-volume manufacturing process capability · assurance that the quality, reliability, and durability will be greater than or equal to the existing system · availability of a supplier infrastructure that can meet the standards of automotive purchasing organizations Workshop participants agreed that only cost-effective and well proven con- cepts will be integrated into vehicle programs. Several workshop participants suggested that, even if the cost comparisons are unfavorable, new technology might still be implemented under the following conditions: · The new technology is a saleable customer feature that can be priced to maintain or increase profits (this is rare for materials concepts). · The new technology has a favorable effect on warranty that can be calcu- lated from current warranty costs. · The new technology is required to meet regulations (in this case, the innovation may or may not be recovered in the vehicle price). · The new technology is required to compete with other producers, and the variable cost increase can be offset either in the same subsystem or by reducing costs in other parts of the vehicle. The new technology helps to overcome the "guzzler tax" and considers variable cost, publicity, and effect on market share. .
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