Automotive

Fuel Pump

Practice / Industry: Automotive

Challenge

A fuel pump manufacturer needed to develop a new fuel delivery system to satisfy hot fuel handling requirement. In order to reduce pollution, the company needed to develop a new system which delivered precise fuel flow for combustion so that they could eliminate unused hot fuel returning back to the fuel tank. A team of engineers was assigned to accomplish this in three years. Two years into the assignment, they could not meet the requirement.

ASI Solution

To attack this fuel pump problem, ASI Consulting Group was asked to help with robust optimization strategies. After two months, the developer had a design that met all requirements.

Achieved Benefit

The team finished development in two months, meeting all requirements, and reduced time to market, which translated to saving of approximately $250k of engineering time and development cost. Cost avoidance in future warranty costs, as fuel pumps are a high warranty item was expected to be in the millions.

 

Window Closing Effort

Challenge:

A high volume automobile had a problem with window closing effort. While the ideal value for window closing is 12.5 in-lbs, both right and left side windows were averaging around 20.0 in-lbs, which caused multi-million dollar warranty costs.

ASI Solution:

The window closing effort problem presented many interesting and serial problems. ASI Consulting Group recommended optimized tolerances of components around the door assembly and window regulator.

Achieved Benefit:

The team finished tolerance design in two weeks. As a result, tolerance of two components was adjusted and window efforts were reduced to approximately 13 in-lbs. There was a multi-million dollar reduction in warranty costs.

 

Power MOSFET

Challenge:

A power MOSFET is used in automotive electronics as a reliable switching device. An increase of electronics creates resistance to reduce power dissipation within. In general, on-resistance of the power MOSFET is reduced by miniaturization of unit cells. This team was task however, with reducing on-resistance by improving the drain electrode process.

ASI Solution:

ASI Consulting Group optimized the design of the MOSFET drain electrode.

Achieved Benefit:

The improved robustness of the electrode drain allowed for an annealing process to be eliminated. Because the annealing is eliminated, all defects from annealing were eliminated. Because there is no annealing, the substrate can be thinned further, which leads to a reduction of resistance that is due to the substrate. A total reduction of the on-resistance of 25% was achieved. Since a 25% reduction in on-resistance over the life of the product was achieved, the chip size can be reduced by 25% with the same power dissipation. The improvement provides a remarkable 25% cost reduction in unit manufacturing cost of the power MOSFET.

Intercooler

Challenge:

The audible noise problem caused by airflow through the intercooler used for a supercharger had become a critical issue. The normal approach to reduce the level of audible noise had typically been ineffective and inefficient and resulted in a cost increase.

ASI Solution:

The robust design approach using the ideal function was applied to reduce the variability of airflow through the intercooler while making the design robust to failure modes.

Achieved Benefit:

The optimized function not only cut audible noise by 6 dB (very significant) but also improved the cooling efficiency and reduced the cost by more than $3.50 per unit.

Engine System Supplier

Challenge:

A major engine system supplier was attempting to expand out of the automotive market but was having difficulty translating their engine system experience from automotive applications to other engine applications. The target market was expecting complete systems exceeding the current market performance and reliability. The current engineering process was not allowing the company to be competitive in this new market.

ASI Solution:

ASI Consulting Group was called and began utilizing Robust Design for the engine system supplier for new engineering processes. Management support for this new method was skeptical at first. The group utilized the methodology on the target market products. The result for the group was that they were able to transition from 30 % below the competition in performance to 10 % above the competition. This was completed using a fraction of the resources and less than half the time of previous projects. This success allowed them to enter a new market and generate revenue that was not available previously.

Achieved Benefit:

Management recognized the power of this new process and began to expand it to other engineering groups. These groups were able to document resource and time savings of over 50 % on other engineering programs while delivering products that were far superior in performance and durability of previous released products.

 

Corporate Deployment Robust Engineering

Challenge:

A multi-billion dollar Tier 1 automotive supplier was struggling with poor product quality and reliability. Automotive OEM customers were not confident the company could meet their stringent quality requirements. The company recognized that poor quality – redesign, returns, warranty and cancellation of contracts – were costing them several million dollars. The company leadership, decided to focus on Engineering. They realized that quality designed into a product or a process, creates lower costs.

ASI Solution:

Seeking robust engineering experts, the company selected ASI Consulting Group as its partner to achieve the new mission. ASI Consulting and others within the company collaborated on an extensive review of the company’s engineering practices and closely examining areas that have short and long-term impact on the company. Robust Engineering was applied. Although initial projects were focused on fixing urgent problems (firefighting), projects gradually shifted from “problem-solving” to “advanced development”, focusing more and more on problem prevention as opposed to fire fighting. The application of Robust Engineering precluded firefighting and helped engineers to focus more on strategic aspects.

Challenge:

Several hundred projects have been completed. The average result of the projects was 50% reduction in variation and the total financial benefits have already been over $100 million.

 

Component Spacing

Challenge:

Engineers were tasked with creating electronic circuits that have more functionality and take-up less space. Component spacing became an issue because the closer components are located to each other the harder it is to manufacture them. It is necessary to find a manufacturing process where the components will stay centered.

ASI Solution:

ASI Consulting Group used Robust Optimization techniques to test the manufacturing process and ensure that component spacing would not be an issue for failure. The optimized design reduced position variable by over 32%.

Achieved Benefit:

The new process design for component spacing allowed for smaller circuit boards. Smaller circuit boards are cheaper and lighter.

Changing Product Development Culture

Challenge:

An Asian automotive OEM is Number 8 in sales worldwide. The CEO of the company announced it is targeting its position to become No. 5 worldwide by 2010. In order to accomplish this objective, the company’s executive VP of Engineering recognized a need to change its product development culture to produce higher quality and more reliable automobiles.

ASI Solution:

Tackling the challenge of changing the product development culture at the company, ASI Consulting Group conducted full 4-week project oriented Design for Six Sigma Black Belt training, with all sixty technical directors of the company. DFSS projects were carefully selected, and assigned to each of the Black Belt candidates.

Achieved Benefit:

We successfully implemented programs that began changing product development culture, but we also sustained the change with additional efforts. After the first wave of projects was completed, the average cost saving per project was approximated as $1.0 million. Besides substantial cost reductions, the company rapidly developed a DFSS culture within its engineering community.